Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4:15-16
Last Sunday, our passage was Romans 12:1-8, which talks about the vital role of each part of the body playing its part, of everyone in the church exercising whatever gifts they have to the extent to which they’re gifted in that area. The focus of the Romans passage is on humility – not seeing ourselves as the solution to all needs, but valuing others’ gifts. The Ephesians passage quoted above (and the longer passage preceding it) focuses on the value of gifts in developing unity and maturity in the church. Meanwhile, the aim of the passage on gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 seems to be to encourage believers to seek and desire spiritual gifts, but to exercise them in cooperation with each other.
Any of those passages on their own would be enough to warrant our attention, but the theme of complementary gifting emerges in three separate letters of Paul with very different audiences and objectives – this is something worth spending significant time on!
However, it’s not always easy to know what your gifts are, how to use them to bless the church, and how to develop them further. This set of blogs will explore some of those topics, in the hope of helping us to live this out at WCC. The current plan is write on the following topics, but I may tweak it, depending on feedback!
- Which gifts are “spiritual”?
- Discovering our gifts
- The beauty of diversity
- Finding ways to serve
- Growing in effectiveness and confidence
- Serving in love
In the process of writing these, I’ve come across some really good articles for further reading. I’ll link to some of the most helpful here:
5 thoughts on “Gifts in the Body of Christ”
Thought for your feedback and comment : If God calls us to a role He also equips us to do it , sometimes using our ‘natural ‘ gifting ( which He endowed us with ) and sometimes with supplementary gifts specifically for that role . Is this true? What Scriptural teaching and examples would support this ?
Interesting question, Chris! I don’t know how easy it is to split apart what you’re calling “natural” gifting from “supplementary” gifts, but I’d definitely agree with the comment about God giving us what we need to undertake a given role. However, from the examples I see in Scripture, I see less of “God giving us the gifts in order to do a role” because that implies that when the role’s over, the gifts go too. What I see more of is each role building on previous ones, such that the gifts He’s given and developed in people are used in a new way, sometimes alongside fresh ones.
Take Joseph for example: he clearly had a gift of prophetic dreaming; whether he had the gift of interpreting dreams from the outset we don’t know – his first ones were so obvious that his whole family understood them! In slavery in Potiphar’s household, God gave him administrative wisdom and outright blessing so that everything he did prospered – a gift he needed for that role. However, he maintained that gift when he was thrust from Potiphar’s house into jail, and he continued to administer the prisons with great wisdom. God gave him understanding of the cupbearer’s and the baker’s dreams, and then he brought both those gifts into the role God gave him in Pharoah’s household.
Joseph is indeed a great example of what I meant – he had natural gifts then God added gifts to meet the different roles he was called on to play . Thanks for pointing him out !
Thinking about what you’re calling “supplementary gifts”, though – Jesus does make it clear that the Holy Spirit will give people the abilities they need for the situations they find themselves in. I think particularly of His words to the disciples in Matthew 10: “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
For the apostles, and in particular for Peter and John, this seemed to be a regular feature of their lives – they were hauled in front of authorities, and answered them with boldness. However, Stephen was chosen to sort out a dispute between Jewish and non-Jewish widows because he had a gift of wisdom, but he ended up hauled in front of the Sanhedrin – at which point the Holy Spirit gave him the words to say.
So yes, I’d definitely say that God gives us the gifts we need for the roles He sends our way – but I also believe He normally gives them permanently, and winds them into His plan for the next stages of our lives.
Yes I did not mean to imply they are later withdrawn as standard practice . In fact that would seem a bit contrary to God’s generous character towards His children . I’m not sure there’s scriptural precedent wither way so gifts ‘ for the long term may well be the norm !