Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
The idea of gifting and that each person has a unique gifting is certainly a familiar one; however, there is a good chance that we need to widen our perspective. Take all of Ephesians 3 and the first section of chapter 4 as your context. Paul describes the radical love of Christ in chapter 3, and then goes on to make several radical statements about how the church is supposed to represent that love. Our lives ought to be worthy of this calling, and it is with that foundation that Christ gifted each of us.
In 4:12, we see the purpose clearly – we have our gifts so that we can be equipped for service, and so that the Body might be built up for Christ’s glory. Verse 13 tells us what each man must do. In present day language, it might go something like this:
“Look, each one of you has a skill set. But those skills and gifts are not an end in themselves. We have been called by Christ and given our lives to Him, and our purpose now is to create, in our interactions and daily lives, a picture for the world to see that represents the Love that has been showered on us. Every man must apply himself to growing in Christ. Just as children grow physically, we need to grow spiritually so that each part of the Body is mature and functioning. The people in Ephesus that don’t know Jesus, they should be drawn in by their interactions with you, and that will happen when each of us pursues Christ above all else.”
Don’t be passive. You have certain strengths that will bless other people. Those strengths must be put into action, and they must be under the headship of Christ and used with this over-arching perspective.
———- In what area of ministry are you currently using your God-given gifts and abilities?
1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we’re all called to serve. We serve God by doing the things He’s planned for us, and we serve others as well. If we strive to keep the two greatest commands (Matthew 22:37-40), we’ll be doing a lot of serving.
To an outsider, it may seem like all Christians do is work their tails off. If we follow the Bible’s guidance to put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3), do all of the “unto one another” things listed, and work “as though working for God and not for man” (Colossians 3:23), it could sure seem that way. The thing is, though, when you’re working for the Lord, it doesn’t feel like work at all.
The Apostle Paul knew this better than anyone. He poured out his life as an offering (2 Timothy 4:6) without complaint because he knew every sacrifice he could make for the Lord was worth it. It wasn’t just him either. Paul acknowledged the hard work and service of the people in the churches to whom he wrote. He reminded them that they were working out their faith and that they labored in love, as well as that they were showing their hope in Jesus Christ by doing what they did.
You’ll never know who’s being blessed by your service for the Lord. Your labor of love could be what brings someone to know Him. Keep up the hard work!
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Have you ever been part of a church that just didn’t feel like it was really living out the purposes of God? When that happens it often starts with a lack in the love department. If Christians can’t love each other, the fellow members of the body of Christ, then there will be no effective ministry.
Paul’s marks of a true Christian reflect not just how a Christian should act, but how Christians should treat each other. These were not instructions on how to treat people “out there”, but how to treat people “in here” first. Practicing the love of God and doing good works starts among family and then it spills out into the rest of our relationships. We must first love and serve our fellow believers.
This is one of the key reasons to belong to a local church fellowship. A church provides the opportunity to love and serve those who share a faith in Christ before going out and doing it among the people of the world. A church is a place to be equipped for ministry, and that starts with love and service from and toward your fellow Christians. Besides that, Christian unity is best perfected within the context of a gathering of believers who make up a family.
Love what is good, hate what is evil, love and serve your Christian brothers and sisters.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
To serve, or to be served? It’s a choice we all have to make at some point. Naturally, we’re inclined to lean toward being served. Look all around at the culture of this era. Everything is about how much we deserve and how we should get it now. We don’t have to wait for anything and we can be served…even through a little window on the side of the restaurant.
But Jesus came to serve others and He calls us to do the same. Does this sound familiar? You’ve heard it before, but does it resonate? How can you serve someone today? Can you put aside something you want in order to make someone else’s day just a little bit better for the glory of God? When should we serve? How much is enough?
Paul’s letter to the Galatians instructs them never to grow weary in doing good and suggests that at every opportunity to serve one should do so. At every opportunity? This can only be done by someone who isn’t thinking of themselves. This can only be accomplished by someone who puts the needs of others first. By someone who truly loves God and serves Him by serving His people. By a disciple.
Mark 25:44-45 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
It sounds like it should go without saying, but a disciple serves God. Why does this even need to be mentioned? Shouldn’t all Christians by default be servants of God? Well, yes, but the reality is that many who are saved are not servants. Many are more interested in being served than in serving. But that’s not the example Jesus gave us.
Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). If anyone ever deserved to be treated like royalty, never having to lift a finger, it was Jesus. The God Man could have had a throne and a kingdom right here on earth. But instead He spent His time here serving others, even to the point of giving His own life. This is our example, not one of entitlement and expectation, but of humility and hard work.
We may get so caught up in living life that we think we have no time to serve God, but the truth is we can be honoring Him in all that we do, even at work or at school. We can serve any and all people around us, even in simple ways, and this is indirectly serving our Lord. But loving others, we show love to the One who made them. And we point them to Him in the process.