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Useful Discipleship

1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (NIVUK)

There are many sad sights in this world.  Abandoned vehicles and empty buildings invite the thought, ‘What a waste!’  Worse still are the homeless and hungry who sit without purpose day after day; or the addicts who live only to feed their habit.  There might be an even greater and more shameful waste within the church.  Although we rejoice to see many Christian ministries giving such people love and hope, relatively few people are committed to serve.  Every person who has been born-again by God's Spirit has been given special gifts/abilities to serve others in this sick world through God's power.  If those gifts are ignored, unused or squandered on self-interest – that is a tragedy!
We have all been given gifts but have we received them?  A gift is properly received when we gladly accept the abilities God has given, thanking Him for them and being determined to use them to His glory.  Part of the function of the local church is to help every member to recognise the gifts they have been given, and encourage the use of these gifts.  The Bible identifies many gifts in at least six main passages: Romans 12:3-8,  1 Corinthians 12:4-11,  1 Corinthians 12:28-30,  2 Corinthians 8:7-8,  Ephesians 4:11-13,  1 Peter 4:9-11.  These gifts range from preaching and praying, to hospitality and helping.  Nobody has all the gifts, and no gift is insignificant (1 Corinthians 12:12-26), because every gift is God's provision for bringing His grace to an aching world.

Jesus taught about the right and wrong ways to hold His precious gifts in Matthew 25:14-30.  The person who refused to use his gift is described as a ‘worthless servant’, only fit to be ‘thrown out into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.  That is such strong imagery that it cannot be ignored.  The context is that gifts are given to invest in Jesus’ ‘business’ until He comes back.  He will expect to see a spiritual profit for His kingdom from what He has given us.  
So it should be a priority for every follower of Jesus to find out which gifts they have been given: then to give thanks and receive them as a part of God's equipping, and ask Him to see the opportunities to use them!  Then do it!  Anything less is a waste of the most significant resources God has given to the world.  As we seek to become more like Jesus, so the evidence of His Spirit's presence will develop in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), and we will learn to serve others for Godly reasons.  Do not be troubled about how other believers serve the Lord.  They have their gifts, and you have yours - each gift has its own function: just be sure that you are using yours ... to His glory.

Almighty God. Thank You for having given to me particular abilities to serve other people with Your gifts. Please forgive me for being frightened to recognise and use Your gifts, or selfish in using what You have given to please myself. Help me to welcome, with thankfulness, all You have given. And help me to be diligent in using Your gifts, and to be alert to use Your gifts in cooperation with You - at home and at work, in the community and in the church. I want to be a blessing; please give me the desire and discipline to obey. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams