There are people in our churches who believe they are no good to the Body. There are older brothers and sisters, Christians in poor health, disciples who can’t get around, people who don’t have outgoing personalities or character traits who feel inadequate because they’re not leading visible, out front, out loud, center stage ministries. They feel unimportant. Un-needed. They feel small in the Kingdom. They compare themselves to big-money givers or big-time leaders or big-mouthed preachers and they feel they come up short.
1 Corinthians 12. Paul says he doesn’t want the Christians in Corinth to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. He doesn’t want them to be led astray. He doesn’t want there to be any misunderstandings about gifts given by the Holy Spirit of God to individual disciples to be used in God’s service and to God’s eternal glory.
I think we’re ignorant.
Every single Christian is blessed with spiritual gifts. Every single person who makes the Christian confession — “Jesus is Lord!” — does so by the Holy Spirit. It’s impossible to be a confessing Christian and not possess these gifts. And Paul tells us very plainly that all these gifts are equal in importance to him and to the Kingdom. They’re all exactly the same.
There are different kinds of gifts but they all come from the same God. There are different kinds of service, different kinds of works, but they all come from the same Spirit of the Father. And, remember, they’re all gifts. They’re gifts! You don’t deserve them. You didn’t do anything to earn them. Neither did the Bible class teacher or the youth deacon or the guy who built the shelves in the church pantry. They’re given to each individual by the Spirit of God “just as he determines.”
I promise you that the discouraged person you warmly greet at the church door on Sunday morning is more touched by your smile and your hug and your sincerity than he is by the songs that Howard picks out and leads. I guarantee that the casserole you deliver to the grieving widow means as much — or much more — than the words said by the preacher at the funeral. I know that changing the oil in that single mother’s car blesses her much more than an eloquent prayer from the pulpit or an efficiently-run children’s program.
The lady who picks up and sorts all the attendance cards on Sunday afternoons. The guy who changes the lightbulbs in the worship center. The man who fixes the computers in the church office. The woman who helps in the nursery.
And a lot of these people say, “Well, that’s just what I do.” It’s a talent. It’s an ability. It’s something I enjoy doing. But…
…it’s not really a “spiritual” gift.
That’s where we’re ignorant.
Your talent becomes a gift from the Spirit when you submit it wholly to the Spirit to be used by the Spirit for his Kingdom purposes. “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them (including you!), just as he wanted them to be.” That thing you do, no matter what it is, is a spiritual gift! God can move mountains when you install a ceiling fan. God can mend broken hearts when you write a letter. God can heal wounded souls when you buy a lunch. God will reveal his glory when you do what you do in his name.
We’re guilty of exalting the more visible and high-profile gifts. We talk more about the bigger and louder gifts. They get more space in the church bulletin. But in God’s economy, all spiritual gifts are exactly the same. Holding the songbook for the older lady next to you is an exercise of a spiritual gift. It’s just as important as what the preacher’s doing up there. And, probably, a whole lot more meaningful to her.