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Can we get practical for a minute?

Everybody Loves A Gift!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Well, we are continuing our series on the Gifts of the Spirit, because we all know, / / Everybody Loves A Gift!
We’ve talked through / / Prophecy, Faith, and last week we looked at Healing & Miracles. I hope that your expectation is growing, that your desire is increasing, both for the gifts themselves, but also the expression of the gifts, the purpose of the gifts.
It’s so obvious why Paul orders things the way he does in 1 Corinthians 12 talking about the gifts, then shifts in chapter 13 to purely being about love, and actually finishes with vs 13, / / Three things will last forever - Faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.
Meaning, our belief, or faith which is impossible to please God without, our hope, which is a confident expectation of a positive outcome - we call salvation the blessed hope, because we have a confident expectation of our salvation, our eternity with God, and love…but love, somehow more important than faith, and more important than hope, why? Because Faith and Hope are about us. Our Faith is what gets us saved. By God’s grace, through faith we believe in Jesus Christ. And Hope, that’s our expectation for salvation itself. Our hope is that we will forever be connected and together with God. But Love, love is NOT just about us. The Old, or greatest commandment, and New Commandment that Jesus gave made love so much more important.
/ / Faith is between us and God.
Hope is between us and God.
Love isn’t just between us and God, / / Love involves all humanity! Because the greatest commandment was to love God, but also, another which is JUST LIKE it, or equal to it, to love our neighbor as ourself. And then Jesus shifted it in John 13:34 and said, / / A new commandment I give you: Love each other, JUST AS I have loved you.
So by the time Paul starts writing chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, which of course he didn’t put the chapter and verses, they were added later, so this is all one connected conversation, but of course he’s writing, / / Let love be your highest goal! BUT you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives...
See, our primary purpose in life is to accept that God loves us and to RECEIVE the love of God, and then to learn how to love both God and people - and by the way, if that’s not your primary purpose, I would suggest to you to start saying, “God, would you awaken my heart to your love. Would you pour out your love on me in such a way that I can not deny it, that I can only accept it and receive it and be changed by it. And teach me how to love…LIKE YOU love!”
When we do that....THEN our desire for spiritual gifts begins to shift.
Because the more we receive love, and the more we learn to love and the more we actually love, remember Romans 12:9, / / Don’t just pretend to love others. REALLY LOVE THEM! The more that happens, the more we want to serve each other, because as we’re learning through this series in 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says, / / A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
It’s about helping each other. And if we don’t love people, we’re probably not going to want to help them.
/ / More Love = More Compassion & More Compassion = More Helping.
And our level of love and our ability TO love is something that can change, and it changes by receiving more love. 1 John 4:19, / / We love each other BECAUSE he loved us first.
Receive love so we can give love.
So, today we’re going to talk about some of the more physical, or you could call them more practical gifts that the Spirit of God gifts to the Church to help us serve each other. And we’ll cover quite a few today. And I want you to think about these things, because one of the great things about these gifts is that they are FROM God himself, and when we recognize, “Ya know what, I think I might just have the gift of....” we can then say, “Thank you God, for this gift, would you show me how to use it, where to use it and increase my ability and my capacity to use it.”
Why don’t we pray that this morning. God, thank you for the Gifts of the Spirit. Would you increase my recognition of the gifts you’ve given me, and my ability and my capacity to use them.
When it’s all on us, when we have to try and do something or feel like we need to be something that just doesn’t feel natural, how awkward is that? How uncomfortable can that become? So, when we recognize these gifts, OR, as Paul encourages us, to PURSUE the gifts of the Spirit, we can ask, “God I want to serve you and I want to serve those around me, would you increase my ability and capacity to do so.”
We said this last week, / / Any gift worth giving and receiving is a gift worth learning how to use and use well.
Today we’ll talk through:
Administration, Leadership , Mercy & Kindness, Service & Helping, Giving. We’re covering a lot of ground today. And if you want a bit of further information or direction, there’s a great website, where I’ve done a bit of my reading along with other sources.
/ / 1. Administration // Where are we going?
The gift of Administration is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 which says, / / And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
The New Living Translation says it this way, / / those who have the gift of leadership.
Although similar in function, and closely connected, Administration and Leadership gifts are distinct and different, and often times overlap each other. So, the gift of administration and the gift of leadership are worth looking at separately.
First of all the gift of Administration, or the word leadership used in some translations here is the greek word / / kubernesis which means to steer or pilot a ship. It is a word of directorship of government.
It can be a bit confusing because administration these days can often cause you to think of, “Ya, let me get you in touch with my administrator, they will take down your information...” But the word is really a word of leadership, or of directorship. To truly know how to look at a situation and navigate the course needed to succeed.
It’s a unique term that refers to the captain of the ship and it literally means to “steer”, or to “rule or govern”.
So, this is not someone that is sitting in the back taking notes, this is someone who is guides and directs a group of people toward a goal or destination.
And we’ll look at the connection to the gift of leadership, but the ability here with / / Administration gifted by the Holy Spirit enables the person to organize, direct, and implement plans to lead others. One of the differences here between Administration and Leadership is that / / administration is more goal and task oriented, concerned with the details and the organization, or event.
In the book of Titus, a letter written by Paul, he says in chapter 1:4-5,/ / I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. may God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace. I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.
What was the work that needed completing? Finding the right person for the job and appointing them to that position. In the following verses he goes on to explain what to look for in the person, to guide Titus in that decision making process. But most likely Paul here is showing us, Hey, Titus had a gift of administration and I could trust him to stay behind and choose the right people for the job. He’s going to get that done so I can move on to MY next task.
Leaders and Organizations NEED Administrators because without them tasks fall through the cracks. Things get missed.
I love seeing these play out in peoples lives. This past week at food distribution Charlotte and I were both in the truck, and we’re both working at counting things out and organizing things, and she says at one point, “OK, I got this figured out in my head.” Jumps off the truck and starts putting people into action to make it happen as she’s already seen it work out in her head.
/ / Gift of Administration - Seeing what needs to get done and appointing the right people to do it!
/ / 2. Leadership // Are You Ok?
Like I said, Leadership is closely connected to Administration, but Administration is task oriented, and in the same way leadership is about getting things done, but leadership is also closely connected to the pastoral gift because it’s different type of leadership.
It’s found in Romans 12:6-8, / / In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. And he goes through a list of some of the gifts and an encouragement on how to use them, and in vs 8 says, / / If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.
The greek word for leadership there is / / prostemi and it means to stand before, or preside over, which could sound like Administration, someone at front telling others what needs to get done, but here’s where it’s different. The definition continues, / / to be a protector or guardian, to give aid, to care for, give attention to.
In fact, in Romans 12 when it is mentioned, it’s directly between the gifts of giving and mercy, implying, this is a gift associated with caring for others, making sure their needs are met. And that’s what connects it to the pastoral gift as well, and what differentiates it from administration.
/ / Where Administration is task oriented, Leadership is people oriented.
That is not to say that those with the gift of administration don’t care about people, of course they do, but I have seen this played out countless times in leadership situations where a leader who has a stronger gift of leadership, caring for the person, will get less done because the focus is less about the task and more about the person being ok. And I’ve seen the other happen as well, where someone with a strong administration gift can miss some cues in how the person is doing because they are so focused on the task, and in a drive to get tasks done, people walk away because they don’t feel cared for.
This is a prime example as to why we need all of these gifts in operation. Because some will focus on the tasks, some will focus on the people, and as we learn to honor and uplift each other in the gifts, both can happen in a very healthy manner. Again, we see why Paul puts such an emphasis on LOVE. One is not greater than the other, they are meant to work together for the goal of the KINGDOM!
I have seen in my own life where this has actually gotten me in trouble when I was working for someone who was looking for an administrator and got a leader. And I mean that to say that I was put in a position where results were the primary focus, but my primary focus kept going towards the people rather than the task, but MY leader was looking for the opposite, what mattered to them was results in task.
I mean, talk about learning each others gifts and abilities so we don’t let anything slip through the cracks. And no one person will carry all these gifts, no matter how talented, wonderful or gifted they are, no matter how much of the Spirit of God they have, or how much of a super christian they think they are, they will never carry all of these gifts. I know this because of the way Paul writes about them, to ONE he gives this, to ANOTHER he gives this, and YET ANOTHER he gives this… / / We aren’t meant to master it all, we’re meant to work together!
Someone with the gift of leadership will really base their success on how well they help others succeed and grow in their spiritual walk with Jesus, rather than the tasks of the organization. It’s a gift of caring for God’s people, for leading them into a deeper relationship with Christ AND each other.
/ / The gift of Leadership is a relational leadership with a deep concern for the well-being of those they lead.
But don’t be confused, and think that the focus on people doesn’t mean there isn’t a focus on where those people are going. See, the gift of leadership often means the person is entrepreneurial in nature, willing to take risks to see the Kingdom of God advanced through the church, because to see people grow in their relationship with God and each other things have to happen, don’t they?
People with the gift of Leadership are often sought out to help lead people through crisis situations, because they have an ability to see the problem and solution, and provide a way out that tends to the persons true needs, not just solving the problem.
/ / Gift of Leadership - Seeing the people involved and making sure they are growing and advancing in their relationships with God & people.
/ / 3. Mercy & Kindness // I Am Here For You!
Most places you’ll see this called the gift of Mercy, although sometimes called Kindness. Now, this one is kind of like the gift of faith. In the same way that we all need faith, we are all called to be merciful, to show kindness. There’s no way around that. If you’re not working at being a kinder, more merciful person, then let me just fill you in, that is one of the high callings of God for your life.
We are seeing clearly that we are all called to love, right? 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter, says, / / Love is patient and kind… starts right there. Love is kind and we are called to love. We are called to be kind. To be nice. To be gentle and humble people. All of us. And I do truly believe that the more love we learn to RECEIVE from God, the more kind we become, the more merciful we become toward others, because as we receive love from God we learn to love others like He does.
But the Gift of Mercy is a really precious gift. / / People with the gift of mercy, like those who have a leadership gift, care for the spiritual and emotional well being of the person, but mercy really has a great empathy for the trials and suffering that people go through. There is a real concern for the physical well being of the person.
A person with the gift of Mercy will come along side people over extended periods of time and see them through the healing process God is bringing them through. They really are truly and literally the hands and feet of God to the afflicted. Someone like Mother Theresa had a very high gift of mercy.
She had an experience on September 10th, 1946, and later she called it her “call within the call”. She was already a nun, had been for many years, had already given herself to serving God, but on that day she says this, / / “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.”
God gave her such a compassion for people, she HAD to meet them where they were. In 1950 she would start Missionaries of Charity, and in her words, it would care for / / “The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”
Although that is the extreme of the extreme, and we are not all called to go live in the poorest of situations with those we serve, the heart is the same. / / The Gift of Mercy is the desire to see those who are hurting, broken, wounded, sick, marginalized find peace and comfort, and help in their time of need.
The gift of mercy is expressed in Romans 12:15, / / Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. and in Galatians 6:2 it says, / / Share each other’s burdens.
Someone who has the gift of mercy has that, the ability to weep with those who weep, to sit with them and comfort them in their pain, to share the burden. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone needs to do this. Some people aren’t like this at all. They get frustrated when people are going through stuff.
The Administration gift would say, “OK, get up, here’s the path, get going, you can do this...” The Leader would say, “Let’s ask God, what does He say, let’s pray about it. Let’s dig into the word, see what God says...” Mercy says, “I’m here…it’s ok… here’s my shoulder, let’s cry together...”
And that’s not just OK, this is God’s design! The more we know about each other, the more we know who to go to when we have a specific need! The gift of mercy are typically very good listeners and get that whole idea of just simply needing to “be there” for someone.
Romans 12:8 says, / / And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
/ / Gift of Mercy - Seeing the burden and trial a person is carrying and being willing to carry it with them.
/ / 4. Serving & Helping // How Can I Help?
The Spiritual gift of serving, or sometimes called ministering or helps, helping, really covers a wide range of activities. In Scripture there are two greek words used for this gift. The first is diakonia, and it’s found in Romans 12:7, / / If your gift is serving others, serve them well.
And the word means / / to serve, or minister, especially those who execute the commands of others. It also means the service of those who prepare and present food. So, literally, to wait tables. But interestingly enough it’s often times translated in the bible as the word “ministry”.
The real heart behind / / the Gift of Service is that it refers to any act of service done in genuine love for the improvement of those in the community.
People with the Gift of Service make the community grow and be looked after by DOING things for people.
And the other word is found in 1 Corinthians 12:28, that says, / / ...those who can help others.
The word help is the greek word / / antilepsis, and is similar in meaning, to help or aid in love within the community.
We have a saying, “I’m just a cog in a machine.” But really, that is a great way to think of all of these various gifts because without one cog, the entire machine stops functioning the way it should. Maybe it will keep working for a while, but eventually the absence of the cog will cause the whole thing to break down.
Paul is clear in his writings, no one person is greater than another. We are all necessary. And some parts are seen and some are not. The gift of service, of helping, is often times a gift that is not seen. It’s the person behind the scenes doing what needs to get done so that the person in front of everyone can actually do what they are meant to do.
It’s the person getting the last minute details ironed out, the pickup across town, the bathrooms being cleaned, the sanctuary being vacuumed, the signs put out, etc… etc… etc… From big tasks to small tasks the gift of service is probably the most important gift there is, because by it’s very nature, without it, there IS no service. And I don’t mean church service, I mean serving of those who need to be served, and that is spiritually, emotionally, physically etc...
Think of it in a restaurant setting. I saw a post my sister-in-law shared a couple weeks ago from a local restaurant in my home town, and it said, “We apologize that we may not be able to open this weekend because no one wants to show up for work.”
You can have the best chef in the world. You can have the best maitre’d, the best book keeping staff, the best advertisements and marketing department, put all the money behind it, have the best of everything, but if you don’t have someone to actually wait the table, serve the customer, bring the person what they don’t open. Not because someone else can’t but because they’re busy doing what THEY do. The chef is busy cooking, the maitre’d is busy managing the front and getting people seated… to pull them from their jobs makes the whole thing slow down.
In moments like that you recognize the importance of that position is so critical.
And in the church, those with the gift of service are absolutely committed to the kingdom of God and the spread of the gospel. They get things done that enable people to have a place to come to so that they can hear the good news of Jesus Christ. / / Their devotion to Jesus and a desire to follow his commands are at their core of what they do.
And you’ll often see that they don’t seek out recognition, or position, or the “spotlight”. They just love to help. They are content to be in the background, not up front, they know their contribution will bless someone, is in the service of God and their love for Jesus, and it brings glory to God.
With someone who sees the little things, picks up the little things that get dropped because others are focused on bigger things, it allows things to happen the way it should in a way it should.
One of the frustrations of someone with a gift of helps or service is that they can often see what others can’t. The things that need to get done. And that can sometimes feel like, “Why aren’t you seeing this? Why aren’t you doing this? It’s so obvious!” Here’s the thing, that is actually true of any of these gifts, so don’t ever let the enemy try to convince you that everyone needs to be like you, or that you need to be like everyone else. No, not true. You were built with a powerful gift. And Paul says it write in Romans 12, / / If your gift is serving others, SERVE THEM WELL...
/ / Gift of Service - Faithfully and happily doing what needs to get done, regardless of the task or exposure for doing it.
/ / 5. Giving // What Do You Need?
Alright, the last gift of the Spirit we’re looking at today is the gift of Giving. This gift is found in Romans 12:8 where Paul is talking through some of the gifts and he says, / / If it [the gift you have received from the Holy Spirit] is giving, give generously.
So, we want to look at three things particularly about the gift of Giving.
First, there IS a gift of giving. Some have been given / / the desire and the heart to give, to provide for someone else, to make a way for someone where they are not able to make away for themselves. This is an incredibly important gift because sometimes those who meant to do the most important work, don’t have the capacity, knowhow or interest to make the money to get that work done. And making the money so they can do what they are meant to do takes away from them actually doing what they are meant to do.
And you might think, “That sounds like a personal problem.” And you’d be right, sometimes. But when we talk about the Kingdom of God, when we talk about the body of Christ, we’re talking about each having an important role to play and the understanding that you may have a gift I don’t have, and that’s not a rejection of me because I don’t have a gift, it’s a celebration of you because you DO have a gift, and I do to, it’s just a different gift. And so it’s a continued opportunity to work together to see something happen.
The greek word for give, or giving, in Romans 12 is / / metadidomi, and it simply means, “to impart”, “to give”. Some of the translations into English say, “to the one who contributes”…
So let’s ask the question,/ / is this talking about money?
I absolutely believe this is talking about material giving. Yes. Here’s the reason why.
First of all, you could say, maybe he’s talking about giving of time, or talents or energy or work....but that’s already covered in all of the other gifts. Those are all found in the gifts of helping, serving, pastoral care, and others. But this one is specifically talking about contributing, and by definition, to give or impart, which means to bestow upon someone, this is about something transferring from one person to another.
The next reason I think this is talking specifically about material things is because just after this in verse 13 of Romans 12, Paul says, / / When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
Need can mean many different things, spiritual, physical, emotional, relational… but it does definitely include material, physical needs, and he’s talking about how the gifts of the spirit are meant to help in times of need.
And the Third thing I want to note about the Gift of Giving is how it is meant to be used. Romans 12:8, / / if it is giving, give generously. Or other translations say, The one who contributes, in generosity.
That word is / / haplotes and it means, “sincerely, generously and without pretense or hypocrisy”.
And you can tell the difference in the motives of a gift, can’t you?
Whether someone is giving to be recognized. Or giving out of obligation. Or giving because they are told they have to. You can tell when a gift is given with strings, and when one is given with zero strings attached. And those are more rare, aren’t they?
You’ll also notice the difference between the credit someone gives when they have the ability to give. Some look at all of their success and material wealth as a direct result of how awesome they are, and others look at their success and the ability to give out of an abundance as a direct result of God blessing them. Regardless of how you got the money, there’s a good chance, even if you used your skill and your own hands to do it, that the creator of the universe, who made those hands, who gifted you in that way, who gave you the mind and body to hone that skill, had a little something to do with it!
Listen, here are words to live by, / / You can NEVER go wrong with giving honor to God for what you have.
Plain and simple. And those with the gift of giving recognize where their gifts came from and so they freely give because they know the provider, God, has an endless supply. But some are not gifted to give like others, and that’s ok.
And I want to touch on something here for a second, because we’ve seen this in a few of the gifts already. Faith, everyone needs faith, it’s impossible to please God without it. Mercy, everyone is called to show mercy, regardless of whether or not they have been given the Spiritual Gift of Mercy or not. And giving, everyone is called to honor God with their finance, regardless of whether or not they have a gift of giving.
I believe in tithing, which is the practice of honoring God with 10% of what we make. I believe in it because the Bible says we should do it, but I also believe in it because it keeps me balanced, it reminds me continually of who my provider is and it keeps me grounded in my financial mentality. The greatest part about giving 10% is that it never changes. Whether I have a little, or have a lot, God still says, / / “if you honor me with the 10% your 90% will go further than your 100% ever could have.” And I’ve seen that to be true time and time again in my life. Giving creates space for receiving and I believe wholeheartedly that every believer should be giving regularly.
BUT, the GIFT of GIVING is something entirely different. And I’ve met people in my life and work that own this gift and it is a beautiful thing to see the joy they experience in “contributing”. And they don’t do it because they feel like they have to, they recognize they get to do this because it’s a part of who God created them to be.
/ / IMPORTANT: Having the gift of giving does not mean you give without thinking!
And this is true of all the gifts. We must recognize that just having a gift does not mean we have learned how to use it. You all heard my circular saw story last week… just because a gift has been given, does not mean the bearer of that gift knows what to do with it, or how to use it. Some people have been given the ability to generate wealth because God has called them to be a giver, but they didn’t get that part, so they squander what they make, and the gift never fully gets used. Some people have a desire to give, but because they have not learned how to make money, they don’t have to give what they want to give. I’ve seen that more often than anything else. People who see need, who want to finance projects, who want to see things get done, but they just can’t do it because they don’t have the resource, and so the gift almost becomes a burden because they can’t do what they want to do.
Whether the gift is healing & miracles like we talked about last week, or prophecy, serving, helping, leadership, administration… these gifts require learning, require development. A person with the Gift of Leadership that hasn’t learned how to be a good leader simply leads people down a bad path. A gifted giver without the ability to give ends up living in regret that they can’t do more.
The best thing you can do is recognize the gifts you have and INVEST in yourself to become the greatest version of yourself. Now, if you have the gift of giving, that doesn’t mean you just start giving away everything you have, and it doesn’t mean you need to go work your tail off trying to make more money so you can give. The bible actually says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, which is my favorite passage of scripture on biblical giving, And I’m taking a bit of extra time on this because we hold our money as important, and we should, and it should never be taken advantage of… this scripture says, / / Remember this - a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when you take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving - the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry [talking about giving generously], they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
This scripture is so good.
/ / It is GOD who provides the seed.
/ / It is GOD who gives the desire to give.
/ / It is GOD who deserves the glory for the gifts given.
And as I’ve said over the last few weeks, what is the purpose of these Spiritual Gifts? For us to experience God and come in to a greater understanding and relationship with Him. Even the gift of giving causes an expression of joyful thanks to God.
When you have the gift of giving, and you use it, be that through a direct gift to a person, or a gift to an organization that is helping people, you are opening a door for people to experience God.
You may not have a desire to hand out food, but may be equipped to fund the process.
You may not have a desire to clean the bathrooms, but have the funds to pay for a much needed renovation.
You may not have a desire to preach, or sing, or teach people the bible, but you truly do have a desire to see that work happen and have the ability to sow that seed God provides into the work of the ministry.
i also want to say:
you can’t help everyone
you can’t serve everyone
you won’t be able to or need to give to everyone, even if your gift is giving
you cant nor do you need to lead everyone…
The gifts we’ve talked about today are just as spiritual and just as important as any of the others, because without the backbone of an organization being taken care of, the body will fall. Without the bones being strong, the body can’t sustain itself.
Whatever gift you have been given, learn to use it, ask God to increase your capacity to serve with it. Pray that you increase in influence and ability. That you grow and learn and thrive in these gifts. The body needs them. The Church needs you and your gift. No one person, two people, 10 people can do this on their own. We need the whole body equipped by God to come together and work together and give of each individual gift to see the full expression of what God has called the church to be and do!
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