Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:7-16
I once belonged to a church that had 3,500 ministers! That’s a lot of ministers! But it wasn’t because they had 3,500 people on staff. It was because they considered every member a minister. They expected and encouraged every member to minister to others, to serve others, with the particular gifts that God had given them.
That was the church where I finally decided to put my faith in Christ. It wasn’t just because of the great sermons, or the powerful Sunday School lessons, which were important. It was also because of the various members who reached out to me, who invited me to Bible studies in their homes, who prayed for me, and who served me―ministered to me―in various other ways.
When the truth of God’s love for me in Christ finally broke through to my heart and mind, I decided to devote the rest of my life to serving Him, too. That didn’t mean that I went immediately into “professional” ministry. It meant that I had now become the three-thousand, five hundred and first minister at that church, using the gifts God had given me to minister to others.
This is how the Bible describes ministry. While there are certainly specific gifts―or “graces,” as the Bible sometimes refers to them― that are given to some to preach or teach, to prophesy or evangelize, or to oversee the workings of the church, these gifts are simply a means to an end: to equip the rest of God’s people for works of service.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul puts it in Ephesians chapter 4:
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…. It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7, 11-13).
The Apostle Peter puts it like this, in 1 Peter chapter 4:
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11a).
When I first put my faith in Christ and received the gift of eternal life, I was surprised to find out that God still had more gifts to give me! I thought eternal life was enough! But it wasn’t enough for God. He still had more He wanted to do in and through me, so He poured other gifts into my life, gifts that were not just for me, but to equip me to serve others.
If you’ve already received the gift of eternal life by putting your faith in Christ, God still has more He wants to do in and through you, too.
For some of you, God has called you, gifted you, and equipped you with the ability to teach, preach, evangelize, prophesy and oversee His work here on the earth. If so, God wants you―He needs you―to use those gifts to equip others, “to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
For some of you, God has called you, gifted you, and equipped you with gifts of faith, mercy, encouragement, serving, giving, leadership, administration―and the list goes on and on (just read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, chapters 12 and 13, or to the Romans, chapter 12, for more about spiritual gifts and how to use them). But all gifts are given for the same reason, “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Your church doesn’t have just one minister, or two, or ten or twenty. Every member is a minister, when you use your gifts to serve others.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me the gift of eternal life, and thank You for going further and giving me even more gifts beyond that! Help me to think of ways today to use the gifts You’ve given me to serve others. Help me to not neglect those gifts, but to put them into practice so they can grow better and stronger, not only for my sake, but for those You want to touch through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.