This week, Pastor Steve looks at our Spiritual Gifts - What are they? Why do we have Spiritual Gifts? What can we do with them? And perhaps, most importantly, How can we identify them?
This message is based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-28. To read now, click here.
What would you say characterizes a Christian? What is the primary quality or primary thing that a person of faith would have, that others might not? … God calls us to be holy – is it holiness? God calls us to be pure – is it our purity? He calls us to avoid sin, to live sinless lives, to run from sin – is it our sinless lifestyles?
I was thinking about these things, and quite frankly, I don’t think that it could be any of those. I have seen good people, faithful people, who at times didn’t seem too holy. They meant well, but we all fall a little short at times. I have seen Christians struggle with purity issues, how many high-profile pastors do we have to watch fall before we realize that being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you pure. How many of our own friend’s marriages do we have to see fall apart to realize that we don’t have this pure and sinless lifestyle. How many struggles do we have to go through to realize that we aren’t perfect just because we’re forgiven?
So if it’s not holiness, purity, or sinlessness – what is it. The book The Purpose Driven Life, has some answers. Here is a quote by Mike Yaconelli that’s found in that book, “I am convinced that what characterizes people who know Jesus is not their lack of sin, but the presence of a radical, wild, mysterious calling from God.”
The Bible says that when we became Christians, God placed a calling on us. He has a plan for us. We weren’t saved from a life of sin to sit in a church pew for our remaining Sunday mornings. We were saved from a life of sin to save others from a life of sin, and to serve them in any way we can. Each of has been called for this task. Each of us is prepared differently, but each of us is called to serve in some way.
It’s the fact that we are called that characterizes us as Christians. I saw another quote that said, “The mission of the church in America is not only to save souls; it is also to save people from a life without calling. The Church, through Jesus, must save its people from a life of meaningless, unfulfilling, empty work.”
Does that sound a little strange? Rick Warren in the book calls this eternal work, work that has eternal consequences. We are all called to a work that has eternal consequences. And I think that part of our calling is to help others fill their days with work that has eternal consequences.
Too often, we think of a calling in a very confined way. We think it only refers to being called to ministry. That is a calling for some, but that’s not the calling for everyone, yet everyone is called to something.
In our reading this morning, Paul wrote to the believers, all the believers, not to the clergy – and he said “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
These certainly aren’t all the positions that God calls people to, these are support positions to prepare God’s people for works of service. But what we need to see is that all of God’s people are called to some kind of work.
So many people complain that they can’t do this, they can’t do that. They think they have so little to offer, what difference could they possibly make. If that’s you this morning, understand that God has called you to be of service, and He’s gifted you in such a way so that you can do what He has called you to do. Rabbi Zusya, shortly before he died, said, “In the world to come, I will not be asked, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I shall be asked, ‘Why were you not Zusya.’”
God doesn’t ask us to do anything you can’t do; he never calls us to live out someone else’s’ calling. We are to respond to the calling that he issued to us. The calling he has already prepared us to do with the spiritual gifts, the heart, the abilities, the passion, and the experiences we have – that’s our SHAPE – God made us just the way we are so that we will be able to do what he has called us to do.
So what do you have to do? Live up to your calling. Do it. Paul often asked people, “Don’t you know who you are?” You are children of God. He said of himself, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He presses on to do what he is called to do. We each need to do that in our lives. Press on to do what God has called you to do.
Paul also assures us that if God has gifted us and called us, and if we use those gifts and respond to that calling, we can be assured that nothing we do will ever be lost, or wasted, or forgotten. A hundred years from now, only the eternal work will make a difference. We will be forgotten on earth, but the works of service that we do for others, the work with eternal consequences, will be remembered, and rewarded, in our heavenly home.
Find your calling, be true to your calling. Don’t let anything lead you away from doing what God has called you to do. And your work will have eternal consequences.