This post was originally published on November 11, 2020. It has been updated with discussion and review questions.
My family recently visited my parents for a week. My parents took my old toys out of the attic for my kids to enjoy. One of the things to come out of the attic was an old footlocker. That footlocker was the safe box for my collection of matchbox cars and trucks.
The experience was very enjoyable. I carefully took several cars from the footlocker, looked them over, and carefully put them on the floor for my children. It was a stroll down memory lane. I had not thought about those cars in years. As I held them I was transported back to preschool and elementary years.
Many of the cars in that box were worn from use, but some were still in the original boxes. I was very careful with my car collection as a child. I had favorites that I kept in mint condition. Those were the ones I would hide when other kids came to play. Other children played with their matchbox cars outside and had imaginary accidents. I cringed when my cars got dirty or crashed together.
As I gave these cars to my children, I was surprised at how hard it was to let them go and let my kids play with them. My two year old son definitely did not take after his father. He had no concern for the care and condition of the cars. He wanted to crash them, take them outside, dig with them. Inevitably, some of them are already broken, as the picture above shows.
At first my reaction to his destructive play was like the toys in Disney’s Toy Story © when Sid was blowing up toys in his backyard (1). Then, I chose to be an adult and watch this child at play. He was having a blast! He was enjoying those toys in ways that I never had. While I wanted to protect and “cherish” the toys. My son wanted to use them, enjoy them, and get the most he could out of them, even if it was messy.
A thought came to mind as I watched him play: “Why have it, if you don’t use it?” What was the point of keeping those cars under lock-and-key for private, careful admiration? The toys were meant to be used. I had actually missed a lot of the fun and experience I could have had with those cars. In a way, I misused them, and I did not get to enjoy them.
This made me think of the spiritual gifts that God has given to each of His people. Through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, He has given each of us gifts. These are gifts from the Holy Spirit. They are special abilities and enablements, to be used for the good of Jesus’ church for His glory. You can read about them in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 1 Peter 4:7-11.
1 Peter is a short passage for us to consider. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Think through this passage with me.
Each One Has Received a Gift
Notice that each one has received a gift. Each one. That means that every believer has received special enablement and ability from God. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been given enablement by God. This is a gift. It is something that you did not pay for or make for yourself. It is something God has purchased on your behalf and given to you. It can and needs to be developed, but it is from God to you as a gift.
Each One Is to Use This Gift to Serve the Church
As each one has received a gift, each one is to use that gift. Each one who has received a gift has the ability, duty, and privilege of using it to serve God and His church. These gifts are not to be neglected.
Peter says to use this gift as a good steward of God’s grace. A steward is a household manager. God is in charge. He gave us our gifts. We are simply managers of God’s grace. We are to use these gifts according to God’s purpose. This purpose is to serve one another. This is A purpose to achieve THE purpose, which I will mention later.
The point is that we are to use our gift for the good of the church and the glory of God. It needs to be developed and grown with use. This means that things will get messy sometimes, and we will make mistakes along with others in our church family. Yet, it is better to use the gifts messily with proper correction and development than to neglect them. God gave them to us for us to use. We have them, let’s use them!
Each One Has Received a Specific, Specialized Gift
God’s grace is multifaceted. It is so varied that each one has received a specific, specialized gift for the purpose of serving God’s church. Believer, you have been given a gift that is meant to be used in the place God has set you. It is a specialized gift to fit the need of the church (or groups of churches) you are to serve. This means that you have a role to play in the church family you serve. God has not haphazardly placed you where you are. He has intentionally placed you there to serve. You have been designed by God to fulfill this role. Serving in this multifaceted grace fulfills the purpose God has newly created you to perform.
There Are Different Kinds of Gifts
Generally speaking there are two kinds of gifts. There are those gifted by God to speak. This includes formal preaching and teaching, but one-to-one communication as well. There are those enabled by God to speak His Word to His people. Then there are those who are enabled to serve others in the body. Both are crucial for the body. Both are necessary aspects of Jesus’ church. Both are aspects of God’s multifaceted grace. God has given both kinds of gifts and placed those gifted people in His church. Each one is an important part of the body.
All Gifts Are from God
In both speaking and serving, God is the source, authority, and enablement. Those who speak are to speak the oracles (literally “words” logion) of God. The message is to be God’s message from God’s Word. God is the source of the message and the authority of the message rests in Him.
Those who serve are to depend upon God for His strength that He supplies. Their service is not dependent on their skill or competence. It is dependent upon God’s enablement. God has supplied the gift, and He supplies the strength to use the gift. This is good news! The work God calls us to, He enables us to do.
The gifts we have received are blood-bought gifts that Jesus gives from His exalted position in heaven (Ephesians 4:7-16). He has purchased these gifts through His death. He has distributed them in His ascension (Acts 2). So, they truly are gifts from God, purchased by Jesus Christ’s work on our behalf and enabled by God’s strength.
All Gifts Are for the Glory of God
Since God is the source, authority, and enablement for all gifts and service, He alone deserves the honor in their use. He alone should be put on display and worshiped through the use of these gifts. He is the point.
The point of our gift is the God who has purchased and given the gifts to us.
The Lord Jesus Christ has died and ascended to grant us deliverance from sin and enablement to serve Him. He has done this so God is glorified. So, let’s be good managers of this specialized, multifaceted grace. Even if it is a messy process to develop it, let’s each use the gift God has given in His strength for His glory.
We have it, so let’s use it!
Questions for Discussion and Review
- Who does 1 Peter 4:10-11 say has received a gift?
- This may seem redundant, but who is included in “each one”?
- What does it mean that these enablements are gifts?
- What comes to mind when you think of “grace”? What does “grace”
- What is the purpose of these gifts?
- What do you think the word “steward” means?
- What are the general categories of gifts given in 1 Peter 4:10-11?
- We have already covered some of this before, but let’s ask again: From where (or Whom) do these gifts come?
- What is the ultimate purpose of these gifts?
About the photo: The photo is the aftermath of my two year old. He was playing with one of my prized snow removal trucks. While pushing through the gravel in our driveway, the snow plow snapped. It is still a good dump truck!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
(1) Toy Story (c) and its characters are the property of Disney. Toy Story was released November 22, 1995.