As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. – 1 Peter 4:10
According to this passage of Scripture, each one of us has a gift. This gift is some special ability given to us by God to be a blessing to others, and to bring Glory to God. We also will be blessed through this gift, for it will bring us joy to use it.
The bible here commands us to be good stewards of this gift. This means that we must be diligent to, number one, put it to use, and, number two, put it to use in the right way. Some people neglect their gift (1 Tim 4:14), and others misuse it (2 Cor 2:17). Our gift is ultimately not for ourselves. It is to use for others, to build up the kingdom of God.
Now some people don’t think that they have a gift. But they do. Everyone has a gift. And everyone’s gift, when put to proper use, will be a great blessing to those who benefit from it. The devil, however, does a good job convincing people to the contrary. Some people become convinced that they have nothing to contribute, that their gift is insignificant, or that they have no gift at all. These are all lies, don’t believe them for a minute.
One reason such lies are prevalent is due a misunderstanding of the gifts of God. Because of the way that many churches do things in our day and age, some gifts are highly exalted over others. For example, those who are gifted to sing and play musical instruments can easily find their place in the modern church; but for someone with the gift of showing mercy (Rom 12:8) may have no idea how to put their gift to work. Depending on what church they belong to, and what kind of leadership is present, they may have a difficult time finding their place. This can lead to frustration as they try plugging in to ministries that don’t match their gifting. It never works out very well.
The Manifold Grace of God
In our title verse, Peter describes the grace of God as manifold. Manifold means ‘many and various.’ The greek word here (which is the original language of the New Testament) means ‘various colors.’
I like to think of it as in regards to crayons. A box of crayons is full of crayons, but you never think of it in that way. When you think of a box of crayons, you think of a rainbow of colors. They are all the same, but they are all so very different. Each one has its own ability to add it’s color to the page. None can color the paper red like the red crayon, and none can color the paper blue like the blue crayon. If the orange crayon tries to color the paper green, he will fail miserably. But when orange is needed, no other crayon will do as well as him.
God has distributed many gifts, and they are not all the same. We must remember that. If you fail to do well in one area, don’t despair, it may just be that you have found what your gifting is not. You can work and try as hard as you can in something that is not your gifting, but you still will be frustrated. Find your gifting. Walk in it. You’ll still have to work hard, but there will be a joy, and an ease to it that won’t be there in other areas. If you find something that you do is joyous to you and a blessing to others, you have probably found your gifting. If you haven’t found that yet, keep looking, it’s there somewhere. You’ll find it.
One Body, Many Members
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:12
The bible likens the people of God to a physical body. Each part has it’s function and place, and each part is important. Sometimes we may think less of certain parts and give attention to other parts, but the truth is that every part is essential for the body to operate at peak performance. It’s unfortunate that in many places the people of God are not operating at peak performance. We’re like a body that’s missing an eye, an arm, a few toes, and is deaf in one ear. We look funny, and are not as effective as we could be. This is because all the members of the body are not in their place, or are in the wrong place, or don’t know their place. Sometimes certain members are neglected because they aren’t seen as important. These things cause schisms in the body, keeping it from functioning the way it should.
But when the people of God find their place and function, the body can begin to operate as it should. God desires us to be unified into the ‘perfect man’ (Eph 4:12), that is, a man without schisms or defects. It is when we, who are individually different, come together collectively as one that we are most powerful.
To Each a Measure of Faith
In order to unify into that ‘perfect man’ we must learn to recognize that those around us are different than we are. So often we criticize others who don’t do things as well as we do. Someone gifted in administrations (1 Cor 12:28) may criticize others for not being as organized as they are. Organizing comes so naturally to them that they might not understand why others have such a difficult time with it. And someone gifted in leadership (Rom 12:8) may be tempted to think they are better than others, for they can draw a following easily; they may think that if others worked harder, then they could, too.
But the scripture warns us against these attitudes:
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. – Romans 12:3
This passage of scripture confused me at first because I thought it was referring to faith in general, but it is not. The kind of faith that this scripture is referring to is faith for spiritual gifts, as we see in the passages that follow it. God has dealt to each one spiritual gifts and the faith to use the gifts along with it. What you believe you can do is different than what another believes he can do. Some have faith to stand up in front of people and preach, some do not. It’s not because one has more faith than another, its because we each have the faith we need to operate in the gifting that we are called to. This is why the bible tells us to think soberly. We are not better or worse than someone else, just different. That’s so important to recognize.
So, if you haven’t done so already, find your area of gifting. Prayer, godly counsel, and a little bit of trial and error should do the trick. You may not thrive instantly in your gifting, but God will give you the faith to grow. Keep at it. And recognize that you’ll be better at it than others, but not because you are so special, but because you have the faith for that gift. Recognize the same thing in others when they operate in their gifting (which will be different than yours). As we all do this we will grow into that perfect man that God has called us to be. And Jesus’ prayer for unity will at long last be answered (John 17), much fruit will be borne by the church, and God will receive the glory He so justly deserves.
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