21. Why did God give gifts and people?
Ephesians 4:11-16. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave 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. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit 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.” (NLT)
My outline of the progression of this passage:
God gave gifts to certain people —or— God gave certain people as gifts to the church (passage might mean either or both according to commentaries),
- In order to – get God’s people ready to do His work (the meaning of “equipping”);
- In order that — the community of Jesus-followers will live and work together more effectively; the church will look more like a living organism (a body) than an organization;
- In order that — we all become spiritually mature by being united in our faith and knowledge of Christ;
- So that –
> we will individually be mature and Christlike;
> we won’t be fooled by those who teach ideas that are
contrary to the truths presented in the Bible;
> we will lovingly speak the truth;
> we will grow more and more like Christ in every
aspect of our lives;
> we will fit together with our Christian brothers and
sisters to form a healthy functioning Church;
> we will each do our own special work,
using our individual gifts for the benefit of all;
> we will help each other grow;
- Resulting in – personal spiritual maturity and a more loving, growing, healthy church.
What do the gifts say about the giver of the gifts? (God)
- He is generous. He could manage His business Himself, but He has chosen to work through His human followers.
- He wants His community, His Bride, to be united, taking care of each other, and helping each other build His kingdom.
- His goal for us includes personal fulfillment (each with a gift, each with a significant purpose, each benefiting from the interactions with other believers, each in personal spiritual relationship with the Father.)
- His goal for the Church is to carry on the work of Christ, loving and bringing honor to God, loving others, reflecting the nature of God, inviting others to enter a relationship with God, etc.
Where do I fit into this progression? And how should I respond?
1. I will recognize my gifts and use them as part of the church. This will require communication with others in the church so I know how I fit together effectively with others in our church.
2. I will recognize others’ gifts, work harmoniously with them, and pray for their effectiveness and personal growth.
3. I will feed myself wholesome (spiritual) food and exercise (my faith) regularly so I can continue to grow spiritually.
Thank You, Lord, for the gifts You have given to Your church. Thank You for how You have made each of us to play a significant part in Your church body, just as each of our physical organs plays an essential part in our physical body. Please help me to remember that any gift You have given me or ministry You have called me to is for the purpose of building Your community, not primarily for my personal satisfaction or feeling of fulfillment. Purify my motives so that I will serve You and others out of love. Amen