Congrats! You’re Gifted
There are a number of ways to view the three list of gifts Paul gives us in his epistles (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and Ephesians 4:11). While I find myself drawn to the viewpoint that sees them as three distinct sets linked to the Father, Spirit and Son respectively—often called motivation, manifestation and ministry gifts in turn—I appreciate that there are other valid ways to view them. More important than how we view them, however, I think Paul’s purpose in addressing them is often overlooked.
In all three cases, the context is not the gifts themselves, but the “body” we’re a part of. The over-riding message is we’re one body, His people: “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5 c. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 18 and Ephesians 4:3, 4, 16).
Yes, we all have unique contributions to make based on the gifts God has given us. For sure, it’s important for us to discover and deploy these gifts faithfully and fruitfully. However, in our day of rampant individualism and proud independence, have we not perhaps turned Paul’s intended message on its head? Do we not have a generation of believers wrapped up in the pursuit of their own giftedness, often with scant regard for community?
I’m grateful that I have an idea of what my gift mix is at this point in my journey—affirmed by those I walk in community with—and believe it’s important to help others unpack their gifts in advancing the Kingdom (even as we purpose not to box ourselves, or others by doing so). However, Paul’s message through these three passages must be foremost in our thinking, and as I hear him, the message is two-fold.
- I am to fully appreciate the gifts that others have, and the many gifts they have that I don’t—learning to reason from the whole to the part. (I’m not the centre of the universe!)
- I am to humbly accept what gifts I have, and the ones I don’t—serving others with the grace I’ve been given while I realise my interdependence on others. As I recognise my own limitations, it allows me to offer my gifts in humility.
We are “one body in Christ” and “members of one another”—not primarily members of some organisation, but of “one another.” It’s a truly wonderful thought that I am gifted, but I had nothing to do with it. The giving of these gifts is God’s responsibility; my responsibility lies in how I steward my gift in the context of God’s people.