Welcome back to our “Three Colors in Ministry” series. This past week, many of us who are going through the Bible study identified several spiritual gifts that God has given us. Some of us were surprised by what we discovered; others were affirmed in what they expected their gifts were.
Everyone likes to receive gifts. However, imagine how a parent would feel if on Christmas day when the gifts for their children were handed out, the children just took them, said “Thank you,” and laid them aside with no attempt to open the gifts or even to find out what they were!
God wants us to use our spiritual gifts in the church. Sadly, some people never think in terms of identifying and using their spiritual gifts for Christ and the Gospel. On the other hand, some people might not volunteer because it may seem that the church is only asking people to serve in certain positions. However, when we aren’t using our gifts with others at church, the success of the church’s mission is at risk. I think that is one of the reasons that St. Paul’s has been hurting so much in recent history. Not everyone has found a way to serve in the church. Also, some people don’t know what their spiritual gifts are and where to use them.
It is refreshing for us to be going through the spiritual gifts study at this time. We are learning that God gave each of us spiritual gifts. People are excited to discover and talk about their spiritual gifts. We are all looking forward to using our gifts in situations that are natural for us and to advance the Gospel.
Paul writes that there are a variety of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
You might not be able to read the detail on this slide where you are sitting, but on it is a list of 30 spiritual gifts that the Bible mentions. Some of the ones listed are artistic creativity, music, organization, evangelism, teaching, service, discernment, and prayers. You might already realize you have a gift for organization. If you do, how could you, or are you using it in the church? Maybe your gift is artistic creativity. Have you ever had the opportunity to use your gift to bless Christ and the church?
What all these gifts have in common is that the Holy Spirit chooses who will receive which gift. Each person receives different gifts. Some people might have the same gift, but not everyone has that gift. God uses all the different gifts in us to bring the Gospel to our community and the world.
The next slide shows that spiritual gifts can be divided into different categories.
Some of the gifts fall into the green area, and they look like the skills and tendencies we already see every day in people who are busy at work in the world, such as organization, craftsmanship, and hospitality.
Other gifts fall in the red area which focuses on the use of gifts that help people see Christ, such as in missionary work, teaching, and service.
Still other gifts fall in the blue area where the power of God is at work through spiritual gifts such as prayer, healing, and prophecy.
Even though we can divide the spiritual gifts into three categories, God intends for them to work together naturally in unity.
Paul writes in verse 7:
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Some people have naturally learned that they can use their spiritual gifts in the world outside the church, such as in exercising leadership, teaching, or hands on craftsmanship. Actually, God has given these spiritual gifts to each one of us so that we can use them together for the Gospel. In the slide, we see that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in complete unity with each other as one God. Similarly, when we use our gifts in unity together to build up the church, then we are fulfilling God’s purpose. It can be very exciting and fulfilling for Christians to discover this and seek new ways to serve.
When we are baptized and come to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us one or more gifts. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament believers, too, such as we see in Moses. Moses writes in Deuteronomy 18:
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.”
Moses was about to die, and he would not be leading the people into the Promised Land. Joshua would do that. During his life, Moses exercised spiritual gifts such as leadership, faith, and prayer. When he realized that he would not be a good spokesperson, Moses asked God to send someone else to lead the people out of Egypt and slavery. God said he had chosen Moses and would not change his mind, but he did give him his brother, Aaron, who would be the spokesperson for Moses. Together, Moses and Aaron worked in unity to do God’s work of leading the people to the Promised Land.
Jesus came as the greater prophet in fulfillment of Moses’ words. Of course, Jesus was human and divine, but before his resurrection from the dead, he did not always make use of his divine powers. I believe that Jesus possessed all the spiritual gifts. He accepted singleness and voluntary poverty. He personified “wisdom” in Solomon’s Proverbs. He exercised leadership over the apostles, organized his teaching, and even impressed people by his teaching with authority. He prayed mightily with the result of answered prayers. He drove out demons, and he overcame death and the devil when he suffered and died for our sins at the cross. He raised Lazarus from the dead as one of his last miracles before his own resurrection from the dead. Jesus exercised all the spiritual gifts perfectly, but he now divides them up among us in the Body of Christ, the Christian Church.
If you are going through the “3 Colors of Ministry” right now, raise your hand if you hear me read off your gift. Maybe you have some of the green gifts: giving, hospitality, mercy, voluntary poverty.
Or maybe you are good at developing ideas and systems because of your knowledge, wisdom, or organization ability.
Or perhaps you are a hands-on type of person and have the gift of craftsmanship, artistic creativity, or music.
You can use your gifts here to serve Christ and the church.
You might have gifts from the red group, such as in sharing the good news of Jesus through evangelism or in mission work.
Some people have gifts in which they can help others through counseling, in leadership, or teaching others.
Still others excel at using their hands in service or helping others.
You might also have one or more spiritual gifts from the blue group.
While we all have faith in Jesus Christ, there are some people that seem to have extraordinary faith in all circumstances. Other people have the gift for suffering better than others, while still others are prayer warriors.
Prophecy, discernment, interpretation, tongues, deliverance, healing, and miracles all fall into this area.
Now everyone raise your hand, and keep it up, if you heard me read off at least one of your gifts. Now I want you to raise your hand if you aren’t going through the “3 Colors of Ministry” right now but you are serving in some way in the church. As you look around the room, consider that all these people are going to be using their unique gifts together in unity with each other to build up the church at St. Paul’s and fulfill Christ’s mission to make disciples.
God is responsible for all that we accomplish together in the name of Jesus. Paul writes in verse 11:
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
In review, God gives one or more spiritual gifts to everyone. Instead of keeping them for our own private use, we are to use our gifts to build up the Body of Christ. Using our spiritual gifts in the church is an act of worship and praise of God.
A song we used to sing in our school chapels emphasizes how we are together the church:
“I am the church; you are the church; we are the church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we’re the church together.”
We are all gifted people, and God wants us all to use our unique spiritual gifts together at St. Paul’s. No gift is greater than another. All gifts are important and needed in the church. We are a united church when we use our gifts together as one. Then we are fulfilling Christ’s purpose for our spiritual gifts and the church.
God does not exclude anyone from having at least one spiritual gift when coming to faith in Christ. God gives gifts to everyone and wants all of us to use these gifts in the church. When we are using our gifts together at St. Paul’s, the church thrives and grows, the church becomes stronger, and many more people are reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.