Dear Disciple of Christ,
“Each one, as a good manager of God’s different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. Those who preach must preach God’s messages; those who serve must serve with the strength that God gives them, so that in all things praise may be given to God through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11
So what do you hear in the lesson above? I’ve got a feeling that, considering these are reflections on “Faithful” living, that Peter is referring to really religious things. It might be more than preaching including things like pastoral care and telling the good news to people and visiting them in the hospital and in their nursing homes. Truly it is that (as you note in verse 10 that Peter references preachers).
But I hope you notice as well a reference to “those who serve.” They (whoever “they” are) must serve with strength that God gives them. Any thoughts about who it is who is serving? We disciples (all of us as disciples, including pastors and teachers and evangelists and missionaries and YOU!) are following Jesus who was “not only a sacrifice for sin but a model of the godly life.” That model was an amazing witness to the will of God (Jesus showing the will of God as much as preaching it). Now we might be so impressed with all Jesus did that He moves so far in front of us and we don’t see how we could ever do what He did.
It is likely true that we cannot raise the dead or give sight to the blind or bring healing to the lame or satisfy the hunger of thousands with a few loaves and fish (and many other things that Jesus did regularly). But at the core, He simply used the gifts He had. He had the ability to accomplish much but it takes more than that, doesn’t it? He needed (and had) the will to use those gifts in serving others. That is what we can do. It is what we do as disciples of Jesus. We use what we have with love and in that way we are known as His disciples.
Those gifts are as varied as our lives differ. As for me, I grew up under the tutelage of a boiler room mechanic. My mother corrected me as an elementary student indicating that my dad was a “stationary engineer” (the fancy title of a boiler room mechanic). But that mechanical ability led my dad to try and do anything (fix TV’s and cars and all that broke in those 1950’s and 60’s and there was a lot breaking). Those days were not times of “breaking and tossing,” but “breaking and fixing.” But my dad also built a house (literally, he built it). He didn’t have a house built but he read up on what was needed and built the 4 bedroom house from scratch (we called it the “camp”, it was on a lake and 1 ½ stories high).
The blessing that was for me was that I was eight years old and impressionable. I was involved in the building of that house (as best an eight year old could be) but I watched piles of lumber and wire and pipes and concrete become a house. When it was completed, I don’t think I had any fear of trying anything, of reading up on what needed to be done and how to do it and then doing it. So whatever was needed in Brooklyn (or Queens or now in Florida) to fix the church (using the talents of the members), was something we first tried to fix, inviting other members to assist. Each of us have been given gifts “for the common good.”
There used to be a saying in the church that you could tell what or who was a person’s “god” by looking at their check book. It indicated that which was most important to them, what was worth sacrificing for in order to “get it.” But considering this day and age, it also applies to our “date books.” Where we spend our time may well be an even better indicator of who we serve.
Because we had such limited funds at our church in Brooklyn ($200 a year to repair and maintain a building built in 1923), we took on all the repairs ourselves. And, as we did that, building and rebuilding the building, God worked on building the church community. In addition to saving lots of money, lots of fellowship developed as the members volunteered their skills and served with each other. We worked together and rejoiced together as jobs were accomplished. I don’t know about your church but at ours, we are currently reflecting on the gifts God has given us to identify what we can offer in joy and thanksgiving to Him. Our “time and talents” are gifts from God to us and for us to use to His glory. In every ministry disciples of Christ have the opportunity to serve with other disciples and give life and breath to the body of Christ.
As a pastor, the offering of the members of their time and talents gives encouragement for preaching, knowing that some are moved into action in various ways (a large number of other ministries continued while the few of us repaired the roofs – brought hungry people meals on wheels, taught children and adults in Bible studies, developed fellowship programs, built handicap ramps, and in Peru, even built homes, etc., etc., etc.!).
It is my prayer that your “faithful living” includes a reflection of the light and love of God that has come to you. What a joy it is to be called to serve the Lord and so you have.
Peace in His service,