Theme: We have adequate, divine resources to fulfill Christ’s mission in a way that honors Him.

Paul continues discussing the resources available to Christians in service of the “mystery.” What was not formerly understood by everyone is now revealed: God offers the Gospel to all the world. Paul’s focus shifts back to his person for these verses – but he is also describing you! All members of the new, unified Christian family have a responsibility to carry out the mission.


Our Third Resource: Giftedness and Enablement

God gives each Christian a gift at salvation and enables them to use it in the spread of the Gospel. Paul’s understanding and use of his own gift instructs us in three areas:

Two phrases reveal Paul’s demeanor. He says, “I was made a minister.” The word “minister” meant a waiter of tables, which was considered one of the lowest jobs in that culture. This word is also translated “deacon” and “steward” in the New Testament. We know Paul had a great influence on the church both then and now through his missionary journeys and penning two-thirds of the New Testament. Yet he defines himself in the most humble role.

Paul calls himself “the very least of all saints.” Even in the church, he considered himself last. God is impartial, and He expects us to be impartial. When we walk in to church, neither degree, car, clothing, job, house, or socio-economic status matters. We should consider ourselves last in the line as we are humbly involved in ministry.

Yet Paul’s humble manner never led to inactivity. In the Bible, humility is a response to receiving grace that we don’t deserve. It compels us to dedicate our life in service to the Gospel.

You lose your spiritual effectiveness when you lose the spirit of servanthood.

Paul’s giftedness was a grace given to Him by God at the moment he was born again. You too were given a superhuman ability to support the spread of the Gospel. The source of this gift is God and His grace, and our use of it is empowered by God.

We use our gifts to minister to people within the context of the local church. But internal service is not the ultimate end. Exercising our gifts strengthens this body, which magnifies God’s glory, and allows us to spread the message of Christ beyond the church. Everything we do is for this purpose.
Gifts are given “according to the working of [God’s] power”. This is the same power that Paul experienced firsthand in Acts 9. It is the same power that we experience when we are born again. How much miraculous power did it take to change your heart and the direction of your life? The same power carries us along and enables us to work out our gifts.

Paul’s gift was “to preach” and “to bring to light” – proclaiming and revealing the message of the Gospel. Paul’s desire was to use his gift to expose the riches of Christ’s wealth to those who hadn’t seen it yet. There are multi-faceted layers of beauty in the Gospel to enjoy. We don’t want anyone to remain in the dark!

Paul makes a Creation reference to reveal spiritual truth. God has shed spiritual light in our heart, and now we are a tool for Him to do the same for others.

Application Points
  • There is a very unique way God has designed you to support the local ministry of this church. Do you know what it is? If not, work with a discipler to find out!
  • When you know how God has gifted you, start ministering! Our job is to live out our days in obedience to the ability God has given us. Every day, you can learn a little bit more about how God has designed you to serve the purpose of the Gospel.
  • Do you take every opportunity to shine the light of the Gospel? Every Christian has the ability. Each is included in the family’s purpose, and is expected to carry the message of the Gospel to the world. Are you doing your part? Do you live a unique, joyful, and purposeful life in front of your family, coworkers, and neighbors? This is our reasonable service – it’s just what we do when we have experienced the power of the Gospel.

Tools for Further StudyCross References to Explore:

  • 1 Peter 4:10-11 – the unique purpose of spiritual gifts.
  • James 1:17, Genesis 1:3, Psalm 19:1-6 – God is the Creator of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4-7 – We are light-bearers in a dark world.

A Hymn to Encourage: “Lift High the Cross”

Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Come, Christians, follow where our Savior trod --
Our King victorious, Christ, the son of God.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conqu'ring ranks combine.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

O Lord, once lifted on this glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw men unto Thee.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Set up Thy throne that Earth's despair may cease
Beneath the shadow of its healing peace.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

For Thy blest Cross, which doth for all atone,
Creation's praises rise before Thy throne.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Quotes to Ponder:

“Then and now, the man who is genuinely called by God is in constant danger of losing his effectiveness by coming to think of himself as more than a servant. When he loses his sense of servanthood, at that same time, he loses his spiritual power and influence.”

“Paul recognizes that the dramatic intervention that transformed him from being an enemy into a friend of Christ was nothing less than an act of divine omnipotence.”