Summary: Temptations to watch out for in using our spiritual gifts. How to avoid falling into these traps of Satan.

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

August 31, 2003

“Using Your Gifts Properly”

John 15:1-17

INTRODUCTION: During the month of August we have been talking about spiritual gifts--reminding us that each of us has been given at least one and usually more than one gift when we become a Christian. We have to identify those gifts, begin to unwrap them, and develop them. Today we will talk about how to use our gifts properly.

The Corinthian church was a very gifted church, but they used their gifts improperly causing a lot of conflict and divisions in the church. Paul was trying to teach the Christians at Corinth to use the gifts in a mature way by not going from one extreme to another. He was telling them, “use your gifts in a spirit of love one toward another.” He said, “don’t be puffed up but don’t bury your gifts either under a false sense of humility.” Some people will say, “I am nothing therefore I will just sit still and do nothing and others will go to the other extreme to show off in their gifts.” Either way is improper use. Some people will get up to sing a solo and say, “It is not me who is singing. It is the Lord.” No, it’s you but you are using the gift the Lord has given you. He is enabling you to do it.

Let’s see what we can learn today about the use of our spiritual gifts and how we can use them productively and in a way that pleases the gift Giver.

A. Improper Use of Our gifts:. When we begin to develop and use our gifts, there is a temptation to take off on our own rather than to be led by the Holy Spirit. This is what happened at the Corinthian church. There are three major temptations we must be on the lookout for and resist in order to avoid improper use of our gifts. Sometimes we are not aware of our actions and we are often blind to our motives and offensive ways.

Story: A little boy was shopping for a birthday gift for his mother and he was looking at cookie jars. He went from one cookie jar to the next carefully lifting the lid and replacing it. When he came to the last one he said, “Aren’t there any covers that don’t make any noise?”

Actually I think the gift was to be for his benefit rather than his Mothers. Our true motives are difficult to discern. We may lose sight of the purpose for spiritual gifts and our own selfish motives may take over.

1. Pridefulness in the use of our gifts: When spiritual gifts are used and wonderful results are experienced, Christians may be tempted to be PRIDEFUL in their use. Look how great I AM. Look how successful I AM. Sometimes you will notice this more in the more visible gifts or the ones that are more demonstrative. We must remember that as gifted believers we are merely the “CONDUIT” through which God’s power flows into the life of others. Paul told the Corinthians in I Cor. 3:5-7 that each person works to bring about the results--one planted the seed, one watered it, but it was God who made it grow. Verse 7 says, “But he who plants nor he who waters is anything but only God who makes things grow.”

We are the “CONDUIT” through whom the Spirit flows.

If we go off into prideful use of our gifts, we are headed for a fall. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:16). Another scripture that gives us an idea about how the Lord feels about pridefulness is Proverbs 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

This kind of pride is different from telling someone, “I’m proud of you. You did a great job.” or of feeling a sense of pride in an accomplishment such as “I’m proud of achieving good grades or I’m proud of how my flower garden turned out.”

The kind of pride that God hates is similar to the prideful Pharisee in Luke 18:12 who stood up and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get...”

Story: Two well-bred female AKC registered dogs were proudly strolling down the street with their noses held high in the air. Along came a big alley dog, a mutt. Embarrassed at being in the company of such a no-account dog, one of the dogs said, “We must go. My name is Miji, spelled M-I-J-I.” The other one said, “My name is Miki spelled M-I-K-I.” The alley dog put his nose up in their air also and said, “My name is Fido, spelled P-H-Y-D-E-A-U-X.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations, p. 278).

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