When we read the Scriptures, we must remember that the Bible is not primarily a story book, a history book, or a rule book. It is a manual for living life on Planet Earth. Even though the majority of the Bible is biographical, all of those stories have principles we can draw out to apply to our lives. When we read the Bible, it’s not good enough to read about what happened back then and there. We want to discover how it can make a difference in our lives today. Luke tells us the story about seven Greek men who were chosen to wait on tables – how does that story apply to our lives today?
The third verse in this Bible story is key to our application: “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” God’s looking for a few good men… and women and children… to accomplish His will on the Earth. If each member of the church will do their part, it helps the other parts grow. This results in a healthy church, growing and full of love.
“Jesus is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12, nlt).
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the job of the pastor to do all of the work of the ministry. It is the job of the pastor to equip the church to do God’s work. The pastor’s job is to train you and then release you to minister. Many people have adopted the mentality that the pastor is the man of God with all the power, and he’s the one who’s supposed to do all the praying, preaching and prophesying. But God never intended the church to be a one man show.
The pastor’s job is supposed to be more like a coach. On a team, the coach works with the players to find out the place where they fit best, and then releases them to do it. God’s plan for His church is that every member would be a minister. Every saved one is a serving one. If you’re saved, you’re saved to serve. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, nlt). Every believer has a job to do.
“Under (God’s) direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16, nlt). I’ll never forget a sermon Pastor Steve Witmer preached on this text. He handed out pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to every member of the congregation and had each one write the words “I fit” on the back of the puzzle piece. It was a visual reminder to everyone that they are an important part of the body of Christ. (I was so inspired by the sermon illustration, that I used it in a message at my church. Thanks Pastor Steve).
Every puzzle piece is different. Each is a different shape and color, but every piece fits in the puzzle, and is an essential part of the picture. If you were to finish a beautiful 5,000 piece puzzle, but found you only had 4,999 pieces, what part of the puzzle do you think your eye would be drawn to? The place where a puzzle piece is missing. What a great illustration of a church where someone isn’t contributing! If we want the church to be healthy, growing, and full of love, every member must do his part. “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, nlt). You are an important and valuable part of God’s family – we need you!
To use a sports analogy, there are no spectators in the Kingdom of God. Christianity is a contact sport – we need to get out of the stands and onto the court. “The Christian Church is a whole lot like a football game: twenty-two people on a field in desperate need of rest, and 70,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise.” (Nicky Gumbel, The Alpha Course). We need a paradigm shift in the church today.
We are His Hands:
“God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” (1 Peter 4:10, nlt).
Everyone has a gift, and we need to use those gifts to impart God’s love and grace to others. I am reminded of the story about a group of German students who volunteered to help rebuild a church in London after World War II. The building had been terribly damaged by bombing. They did pretty well, except for a marble statue of Jesus that had been broken into many pieces. The statue once stood with Christ holding his arms outstretched, and the inscription under it read, “Come unto me.” They were able to find and reconstruct the entire statue except for the hands, which had been completely demolished. When finished, they had a statue of Jesus with outstretched arms, but no hands. They couldn’t decide what to do: Should they make new hands, or leave it as it was? They decided to leave it, but they changed the inscription. Now it says, “He has no hands but ours.” We are God’s hands in the earth today.
In addition to the gifts of the Holy Spirit (which we looked at in chapter two) and the gifts Jesus gave to the church, God the Father has also given gifts to the church. Many excellent books have been written on these spiritual gifts, so we will not give an exhaustive treatment of them here. However, for the benefit of those who have never received any teaching on spiritual gifts, let this serve as a primer for you.
Spiritual Gifts from God the Father:
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:4-8, nlt).
The seven different gifts listed here are:
- Prophecy: The special ability God gives to some to proclaim the Word of God with clarity to strengthen, encourage, and comfort believers, and convince unbelievers.
- Serving: The gift that enables a believer to work joyfully behind the scenes in order that God’s work is fulfilled, to serve the church in a supporting role or to invest their talents in the life and ministry of others enabling them to increase their effectiveness.
- Teaching: The special ability to explain the truths of the Word of God clearly and to apply them effectively so people understand and learn. To instruct others in the Bible in a logical and systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for understanding and growth.
- Encouragement: The special ability to offer words of encouragement, hope, and reassurance to discouraged, weak, or troubled people so they are comforted.
- Giving: The gift that enables a believer to recognize God’s blessings and to generously, sacrificially, and cheerfully give of their resources without thought of return.
- Leadership: The special ability to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish these goals for the glory of God.
- Showing Kindness / Mercy: The special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to feel exceptional empathy and compassion for those who are suffering, speaking words of compassion, and caring for them with acts of love that help alleviate their distress.
I highly recommend the book Discover Your God-Given Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune. This book looks at how to discover the gifts God has given to every person according to this Scripture in Romans 12, complete with study guide. (See www.discoveryourgifts.org.)
Find a Need and Fill it:
Even though the Bible clearly teaches that every believer has a spiritual gift, some Christians try to get out of doing the work of the ministry by making the excuse, “I don’t know what my gift is. I would love to help, but I just don’t know what I’m good at.” If that’s you, then you’ve missed the whole point. Although it is important for every Christian to discover and develop their spiritual gifts, the main issue isn’t what your gift is; the main issue is: what’s the need? We are called to “make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.” (Ephesians 5:16, nlt). It doesn’t say, “If there’s a need, don’t you dare step in to help unless you have the right spiritual gift to help out.” Is there good that needs to be done? Then do it! “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.” (Galatians 6:10, nlt).
Pastor Tommy Barnett of the Dream Center in Los Angeles put it best in his motto, “Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it.” That simple principle has built a dynamic inner-city outreach that provides food, clothing, shelter, life rehabilitation, education and job training, Biblical training and much more. The ministry reaches over 40,000 hurting and needy people every month because of that powerful motto. Find a need… and fill it!
When Stephen and Philip were at church one day, the pastor said, “We need some men to wait on tables to serve the Greek widows.” Do you think they stood up and shouted, “Yes! My whole life I’ve been waiting to discover my calling, and now I get to serve food to some old widows! Thank you Jesus, I am now satisfied, fulfilling my life’s purpose.” It probably wasn’t like that. But there was a need, and they filled it. That’s church. That’s ministry.
What’s the need your church is facing today? Maybe people are needed to get involved teaching or helping in the children’s or youth ministries. Or perhaps they’re looking for someone to help out ushering or greeting. Remember, there are no spectators in the kingdom of God. Get involved and start helping out. Find out where you fit, and help your local church body to be growing, healthy and full of love.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye – then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27, nlt).
“God’s Looking for a Few Good Men” is one of the chapters from my book: “Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today.” Contact me today if you would like a free copy of the e-book version of this study in the Book of Acts!