Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Ephesians 4:7-12 begins with Paul telling his readers that Jesus has given gifts to each and every believer, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (4:7) Every single believer has received the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has brought a housewarming gift. Every one of us has been given a “grace gift.” Jesus Christ himself dealt out the gifts and they were given through the Holy Spirit. In Romans 12 Paul lists some of these gifts: prophesying, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy. He mentions others in 1 Corinthians 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, miraculous power, discernment, languages, interpretation of languages. There may well be many other gifts given through the Holy Spirit. The point here is that every believer has at least one.

Not only has Jesus given gifts to individuals, he has also given gifts to the church as a whole. These gifts are in the form of gifted leaders. Paul writes in 4:11, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” These people have been given gifts of leadership. In turn, these people have been given as gifts to the church to help the church accomplish the goal God has set for them. These people have been given to the universal church for its benefit as well as to individual congregations.

Why has Jesus given these gifted leaders to the church? The answer is found in verse 12, “…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” These leaders are preachers and evangelists, pastors and teachers. They are given to the body of Christ to help prepare the people to do works of Christian service. They are supposed to help individuals learn how to use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. They are supposed to help congregations use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the universal body of Christ. People and congregations learn how to serve as the preacher preaches God’s word. They learn how to serve as the teacher teaches the Bible. They learn how to do evangelism as they watch the evangelist do his work. The pastors shepherd people along the road and help them see how they can serve the body of Christ. People need encouragement. They need relationship. They need someone to help them learn how to use their spiritual gifts.

As Paul said in verse 12, as Christians begin to exercise their gifts in ministry and service the body of Christ is “built up.” Think of how a human body grows. The best picture for me is that of a boy who goes out for the high school football team. He has coaches who teach him about proper nourishment, exercise, and conditioning. He has a coach who takes him through the proper workouts in the weight room. You watch that boy start to change. He’s growing up into a man. He’s bigger and stronger. He’s able to do more on the football field. He is more likely to have a greater impact on the game and less likely to be injured.

This is just how it works with the body of Christ! The coaches prepare the people for works of service which in turn act as nourishment for the church. As people learn to serve one another they increase the skill and conditioning of the church. As they serve each other the church grows stronger and stronger. It is able to do far more ministry in the world and it is able to have a greater impact in the community.

So do you see the connection between serving one another and the building up of the body of Christ? Doing the work of serving is the thing that advances the church on the way to reaching the goal God has for it. This whole thing is so much bigger than we thought! The church is not just about us and our individual relationship with Jesus. It is not just a place for us to go on Sunday mornings. It is not just a bunch of programs designed to meet our needs. It is about building up the body of Christ! And the way we do that is by using our spiritual gifts to serve one another! If this is true, then it is important that we make serving our priority! We need to focus attention on one another and on finding ways to serve each other!


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