“Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
A first look:
- “Each one” seems to clearly imply that “each one” does indeed have a gift to use to serve others.
- This gift is a “grace,” not just to each individual who has a gift but for the “us” who will need other people and through others that God provides the fulfillment of that need. God wisely makes us so that it is impossible for us to be independent. We could lie to ourselves and think that we are, but we cannot. No one can. Therefore he graces others with gifts for our hour of need, and gives us gifts to serve others in their hour of need.
- God provides strength so that those gifted to serve can serve and that He will get the praise. I believe this also happens for the ones who speak, that God provides the words to those who speak so that He gets the praise. Those who serve need to rely on God’s strength, and those who speak to rely on God’s words.
- End result is that God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To the heart:
Clearly God gives gifts to his people. That’s not something I’ve doubted. I see it even in those who do not follow Jesus. But at times in my own life I have felt frustrated and hindered in being able to use those gifts. Yet the reality is that if I’m frustrated that I can’t use those gifts, it’s probably because I’m being more conscious and concerned about me using them than I am about using them to meet the needs of others.
Then there is the reality of the gifts I don’t have. I am not a children’s worker, but everyone tends to assume this if you are a woman. Add to that is that I see that those who work with the poor and the orphaned children of the world seem to have this communion with God that goes above and beyond. Think Mother Theresa. Think George Mueller. Think of the young 21 year old woman from the blog below (her blog is extraordinary). And it’s no wonder. James says that this is what pure religion is all about. And yet I find myself having a Godly jealousy for that kind of communion.
Now I know there are other great people of God who didn’t primarily work with children–Billy Graham for instance. Where would the world be if we didn’t have his evangelistic work and the standard of holy living that we know him to have? And I’ve met other people, one young man I’m thinking of who is only around 30 and yet carries in him the very presence of God. Neither work with children.
And yes, I can name a bunch of others, but there is just something special among those who work among the poor and the children. Maybe it’s because as James has said, “God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith.” Perhaps we need to move our seminaries among them. They are the ones who teach.
As an aside, when I was in Bible college we had to write out our statement of faith. It consisted of things like “I believe the Bible is God’s Word, Jesus died for our sins, the Holy Spirit indwells us, etc… These are all good, but I think if I were ever asked to do it again, I would want to write something like, ‘I feed the poor in Jesus’ name, I give the very best clothes I have to the homeless because Jesus gave his very best for us, I adopt the orphan (through sponsorship or adoption) as I have been adopted by God, etc…’ Wouldn’t this be a much better statement of ‘faith?’
Ok, so now that I’m off on as many tangents as Peter (try reading 1:3-5 in one breath), perhaps I’ll get back to a semblance of the trail that I was on. EACH ONE receives a gift from the Lord, and these gifts are different. But they all have a similar purpose–TO SERVE. My gift is different from your gift. One serves through the strength of God. One speaks as if it is the very words of God. One helps the poor through the power of God. And in the end it is all for the same goal–FOR PRAISE. To God. For his glory for what he has done through Jesus. And really, if our heart cares only about using our gift for His praise, what does it really matter about anything else?