(1 Corinthians 12:4-6) “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”
Every born again child of God has one or more spiritual gifts that are not natural endowments or abilities but have been supernaturally imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. These gifts cannot really operate independently from the body of Christ. Peter tells us that we are to use the gifts that God has given us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). In this study we will now look at the Gifts of Service that the Holy Spirit releases through the local body of Christ.
The Gifts of Service to the Body of Christ.
These gifts are listed in Romans chapter 12 and in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. These are believers who have the grace to minister in practical ways to their fellow believers in the local church. Often these gifts are overlooked in the clamour to exercise the more up front gifts such as prophecy or tongues. However, from God’s perspective all of the gifts are important to the balance needed to make a local congregation spiritually well rounded and mature. Again it needs to be said that all gifts flow from the Head the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever gift a believer has the grace to exercise is not his own personal possession to use, as he wants to use it. The Lord Jesus works through that man or woman according to His will and not theirs. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11) Those who minister in these service gifts are not inferior to those who exercise the public ministry gifts.
There was a time when King David went to destroy the Amalekites and left some men behind to guard the supply animals because they were exhausted from the previous battle and needed respite. When David came back with his men he gave all of them an equal share in the spoils. Some of those men that had been on the front line who were evil and troublemakers complained about those who had stayed behind but David considered those who had guarded the supplies just as important to the overall success of the mission, after all someone had to stay behind to guard the provisions. This became an ordinance for Israel. (1 Samuel 30:9, 24-25)
We must never despise the supporting ministries in the local church. We will all be rewarded according to how we have used the gifts we have and not according to the gift itself. In fact to complain because someone has the grace to use a gift that we do not have the grace to use is to be evil and a troublemaker. This account of David giving his men an equal share teaches us about how the Lord Jesus distributes His gifts and uses them. Every gift is important to the Lord Jesus and He distributes them according to His will. The Lord Jesus is always fair in these matters. Now we will briefly look at these gifts of service.
1. Helps: (1 Corinthians 12:28)
These are believers who have the grace to do tasks well. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will enhance a natural talent and ability but there are those who are able to help others in the power of the Holy Spirit that doesn’t come naturally to them. Whether it is doing maintenance on the building, visiting the sick or arranging flowers in the church their ministry is still vital to the ongoing harmony and operation of the local congregation. These gifts may include encouraging others and practicing hospitality. Those who exercise these gifts find great happiness and fulfilment in this ministry of helps to others. They not only do these tasks well but in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you have the grace to be a helper then work at it with all of your heart!
2. Administration: (1 Corinthians 12:28)
These are believers who have the grace to organize and plan the meetings and other administrative affairs of the local church. They can organize outreach programmers, Co-ordinate Bible study groups; organize hospital visitation programmes and social service activities. Those with this ability can work alongside with those who are gifted helpers. Some may have these abilities naturally however that does not mean that they necessarily have to be used in these ways. All of these abilities mentioned in scripture are gifts of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ. The churches at Antioch and Jerusalem both had social service departments. If you have the grace to be an administrator then be of help to your elders and deacons.
3. Serving: (Romans 12:7)
Every believer is a servant to his or her brother and sister in Christ. Those who have a servant’s attitude greatly please the Lord. Today this gift is virtually lost and is often left un-recognized and affirmed in those who are exercising it in their local church. When we have a servant’s attitude we reflect the nature of Jesus very powerfully to others. Whether we preach, lead, wash toilets, clean the church or help those who are old and cannot get around we are all servants. In fact the higher we go up the ladder of spiritual responsibility in the local church the more of a servant we must become. The way up is down.
The Lord Jesus went down to the lowest place before He was exulted. There is no resurrection without crucifixion. The more we allow the Lord to break and mould our lives the more He can use us. Remember that we are clay in the hands of the Divine potter and He will mould us into what he wants us to be. We can be a beautiful vessel for noble use or a common pot depending on how we allow the potter to mould our lives and our attitudes. Stephen was a mighty preacher and prophet and worker of miracles but he was a deacon who distributed bread to widows not a theological graduate. He may not have known theology but he certainly knew the Word of God and how to use it in the Spirit’s power.
Remember Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26b -27). Servant hood is required in the exercising of all the gifts. If your gift is serving then serve with all of your heart and you will not loose your reward.
4. Encouraging: (Romans 12:8)
Barnabas had this gift. His name means Son of Encouragement. (Acts 4:36) Paul had persecuted the church before he was saved and even after his conversion was still treated with suspicion by the disciples in Jerusalem, however, Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles and they saw for themselves the change that the Lord Jesus had brought about in him. (Acts 9:26-27) On another occasion Paul himself refused to take Mark on a ministry journey because he had let Paul down but Barnabas stayed with Mark to encourage him. (Acts 15:37-39)
Many years later Paul came to value Mark as a faithful companion in the Gospel. (2 Timothy 4:11) We must never underestimate the gift of grace to encourage others. Many fine servants of the Lord on the verge of giving up have been encouraged by someone with this gift and as a result continued in their ministry and have been used mightily by God. So if you have the grace to encourage then work at encouraging others!
5. Giving: (Romans 12:8)
This is the grace to be generous with money. While all of us need to be generous with our money where the work of the Lord is concerned there are those who have the grace to give generously and without restraint. These kinds of givers expect nothing in return. They love the Lord, His work and His people and will give to see the work of the Lord established. All of us should decide in our hearts what to give for the Lord’s work remembering that he who sews sparingly will reap sparingly but he who gives generously reaps generously because God loves a cheerful giver! God responds to this kind of attitude and imparts grace to those who give generously and meets all of their needs. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
If we give our money willingly and cheerfully then God will reward us and bless our lives in every way. We will not become millionaires or even have much money at all but the blessings of God will flow into every area of our daily lives and every need will be abundantly met. True prosperity is the grace to succeed in doing all the will of God. True prosperity is not becoming rich according to the western concept of consumerism as taught by the faith prosperity teachers. These people are really teaching that godliness is a means to financial gain.
The Bible says that Godliness with contentment is great gain but those who chase after money never know contentment. If we have food and clothing then we must be thankful to the Lord and thankfulness is the highest form of worship we can express to Him. Christians who want to become rich in this world will fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil and many Christians today in the church who are eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10) Many preachers who started out well and had honest ministries have been corrupted by the love of money.
Watch out for the huper faith prosperity money loving preachers on TV and on the Internet. These men and their ministries have become corrupted and the devil is using them to “profiteer on the blood of the lamb” and to “fleece the saints.” These money preachers are diverting much needed finance from genuine ministries and filling their own coffers with it. This is a disgrace to the Lord Jesus Christ and makes born again Christians the laughing stock by the world and who can blame them! The Bible does says, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and He adds no trouble to it” (Proverbs 10:22. However, God’s defines wealth very differently than the world defines it. God’s blessing can bring wealth but there are not many Christians today whom God can really trust with it. Whether we have a lot of money or not is not the issue as money in itself is not wrong but our attitude towards it is very important and the Lord wants our attitude right where money is concerned. God does not promise to make every believer rich but he does promise to meet our needs abundantly if we do the right thing where our money is concerned. (Philippians 4:19) (2 Corinthians 9:8) If we sought the grace to give God could get a lot more work done in His kingdom and get it done more efficiently. If you have the grace to give then give generously!
6. Leadership: (1 Corinthians 12:8)
The text says if we have the grace to be a leader then let us exercise it with diligence. Slothfulness in leadership impairs spiritual effectiveness and sets a bad example to others in the local church. Leaders include the ministry gifts but also include other positions of leadership as well. Whether we are responsible for the youth group or for leading a Bible study or organizing discipleship classes we must be diligent and consistent in the example we set for others. in the local church if a person has the grace to be any kind of leader then others will want to follow them. Every leadership ministry is a position of serving others and also needs the gift of serving and helps accompanying it. A person who is a leader will need to move in other gifts of the Spirit to enable them to minister effectively as a leader. Leaders lead by example not by lording it over others. Watch out for heavy shepherding! Leadership is foundational and upholds the local church and leads by example it does not rule from the top!
In the legend of King Arthur of Camelot there was a round table at which all of his men sat including himself. Even though he was their leader he treated them all equally. The Table was round, not a pyramid with Arthur at the top! Unfortunately many churches today have a pyramid structure with a man at the top who “calls the shots” and is the presiding CEO and everyone has to do what he says or else! Watch out for those in positions of leadership who appoint other family members or close friends to key positions in the local church! Watch out for those autocrats who appoint “yes men” to be their fellow workers! If you have the grace to be a leader then be a “foot washer!”
7. Showing mercy: (Romans 12:8)
This grace gift is a wonderful gift because it allows a believer to be merciful to those who repent after backsliding or committing a serious sin. None of us are exempt from falling into sin. If we do not show mercy to those who have when they repent then we will not receive it ourselves. (Matthew 5:7) (Matthew 6:14-15) If we see a brother or sister that has wandered into sin and condemn them outright without extending the offer to repent then we may also be overtaken with the same sin. (Galatians 6:1-2) We must always seek to bring back those who have wandered from the truth. (James 5:19-20) (1 John 5:16-17) However, there will be those who reject the faith who cannot be restored. (2 Timothy 3:8) (Philippians 3:18-19) (Jude 11-13) If God has shown you great mercy then work at being merciful because this is a great gift in the sight of God and very close to the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to seek and to save the lost. Always seek for straying sheep. (Matthew 18:12-14) In our final study on Spiritual Gifts we will look at those gifts manifested in a public meeting where the whole local church is assembled for worship.