The Spiritual Fabric of Local Church Existence and Progress.

The local church is characterized by believers who love one another and are excited to serve together. This delights God's heart. We serve not merely to be busy but to build each other up and be light in the culture. Our influence in the community is only as strong as our relationships with one another in the local church.

Discovering Your Spiritual Gift

Every Christian has a spiritual gift, and often the Spirit of God chooses to match one's gift to one's natural abilities. How do you know which gift God has given you? Find an area that you think you may be gifted in and give it a try. Evaluate your experience and seek the reaction of mature believers to help you discern. It is absolutely necessary to be connected with someone more mature than you. Blazing your own path is more American than biblical. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of interdependence with other believers.

Realize that you may have more than one gift and that there are different degrees of gifting. Gifts are matured over time. Some believers will be better at expressing their gifts than others, yet all are equally essential. Every soul must be cared for, and every soul must be excited and willing to serve and to follow someone who has been in the Lord for a longer time.

Exercising Your Spiritual Gift

1 Timothy 4:13 warns us not to neglect our spiritual gifts. In another letter, Paul positively instructs Timothy to keep his gift active (2 Timothy 1:6). We must practice spiritual gifts in harmony with the fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23). Doing the right thing the wrong way is still wrong.

We must exercise caution when using our spiritual gifts. Remember that your gift is from God. Therefore, pride in your gift or its degree is not an option (1 Corinthians 12:22, 1 Peter 5:5-6).

Life circumstances may change the use of your gift. Older saints agonize when they are limited by illness or physical difficulty. From them, we learn how we should long to use our gifts in the local church.

The Nature of Spiritual Gifting

1 Peter 4:10 is clear that spiritual gifts find their source in God. Because the source of our help is endless, our service is perpetual (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). There is room for tremendous patience with new believers and those who have been hurt by past experiences in the church. The goal is for every soul to understand that they have a gift by God's grace and to become excited about reproducing the will of God in someone else so the whole church will be well-equipped to be light in our community.

Spiritual gifts are given when we are united with Christ in Spirit baptism at the moment of salvation (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). God does this for you when you are born again. Gifts are sovereignly distributed by God (Hebrews 2:4). We do not get to choose our gifts or to return them.

Finally, the New Testament totally ignores the use of gifts for someone’s personal benefit. Gifts are not intended to operate for self-edification. All gifts are designed to be used for mutual growth and encouragement within the church. Neither should we exercise our gift in order to get a response from others. We serve regardless of the response.

Spiritual gifts are to be exercised within the ministry and outreach of the local church. The last 50 years have seen parachurch organizations growing stronger than the local church. But these are not God's designated setting for the exercise of spiritual gifts. It is radically, biblically backwards to use your spiritual gift primarily outside the church. God has allowed other organizations to exist, but the Great Commission was not given to any organization but the local church. We serve the same God that turned the world upside-down through twelve men, and He can do the same here if we are willing to follow and obey.

Application Points

  • What was the last time you got excited about discipling souls? Attending church, giving, and even serving are not enough. We are called to disciple other souls as our primary role in the church. How can you grow in this area?
  • Those who know Christ should do the right thing the right way. If you have the desire to do the right thing but your attitude is not right, wait to do the right thing until your heart is right with God.
  • Those who have a high degree of gifting are in more danger of taking pride in their spiritual gift. You know your gift is strong when people talk about or compliment you on the use of your gift often. You especially need to have the attitude of a learner and be connected to someone who is more mature in the Lord.
  • If you are too busy to use a spiritual gift, evaluate the things you are doing outside of the biblical mandates of family, work, and worship. What should you eliminate in order to exercise the gift God has given you? We can never allow a spiritual gift to become inactive.
  • Where is your treasure? Where you do invest your time and money? Where do you plan to leave your resources when you die?