During Sunday School this week we will hold our annual ministry team fair. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the various ministry teams at Christ Church and to sign up to serve in the area which speaks most clearly to your heart. For some of us though, the idea of identifying what speaks to our heart scares us more than the thought of actually serving. Maybe we’ve overcomplicated things. I believe 1 Peter 4 speaks to the topic of desire and gifting with a simple and encouraging word of exhortation.
Wednesday, December 4th
Larger Portion of Scripture - 1 Peter 4:1-11
Focused Passage for Reflection - 1 Peter 4:7-11
Reflecting on the Text:
Some of us call it hardwiring. Some of us call it gifting. Some of us don’t know what to call it, we just know there are certain things we enjoy and are better at, and certain things we’d just assume leave to others. Whatever you call “it”, you will begin to find some clarity when you consider its source. As we begin to train our hearts to see all of life through a Biblical lens, we will then begin to see that wiring, gifting, or just plain ole desire comes from the Lord. First Peter 4 points us to Him, acknowledging the Lord as the source of our gifting, and without getting too worked up about the varying descriptions of those gifts, it essentially tells us to put them to work by getting in the game.
Verse 7 begins with the end. It doesn’t do this so we will start predicting the date of the actual last day. Jesus spoke to the folly of that exercise (Matt. 24:36). Rather, Peter is telling us the last era of time has begun…so he exhorts us to live with intentionality. The verses leading up to this show us what the opposite of intentional living looks like. Here, he describes the joy of intentional Christian living as praying, loving, and showing hospitality. But in God’s wisdom, He has “wired” us uniquely so this life of intentionality will look different for all of us.
I love the simplicity of 1 Peter 4 as the passage describes the diversity of gifting. While there are many shapes and sizes of gifts, Peter writes broadly of speaking gifts and serving gifts. (As an aside, I tend to pull from the rest of Scripture and add a third broad category of gifting…evangelism.) But in his vague description of these gifts, Peter is crystal clear on the fact that they come from God and are given as an outpouring of His varied grace.
So how do we identify our gifting? There are spiritual gift inventories which have some value. Some of us have taken them and been helped by them. Some of us on the other hand may have left more confused. Either way we are reminded that in the Christian life we should never go it alone. Talk with a trusted friend or mentor and process it with a simple 3-factor grid.
First, consider your desires. Desire can be a helpful indicator of God given gifting. Listen to your heart’s desire for clues as to how God has gifted you to serve His Kingdom. Second, search the Scriptures. While desire “can be” an indictor of gifting, our hearts can deceive us. So search the Word to determine how your desire fits with God’s design.
Third, listen to how the body of Christ affirms your gifting. There are areas where we desire something good, but it is not part of God’s design for us as individuals. My singing would be a striking example of this mismatch between a good desire and God given gifting! So find a friend who will be honest enough to tell you where the mismatches are, and one who will be insightful enough to draw out the true matches. Incidentally, these friends are also part of God’s gift to us.
Within the confines of this passage, Peter doesn’t go into this detail of identifying gift. We must look to the whole of Scripture for that. Here he simply speaks to the diversity of gifts, but in the diversity there is a constant. Our diverse gifts are meant to be put to use. “As each has received a gift, USE IT to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
There it is: Encouragement and exhortation, all with the reminder that the God who gives is the God who sustains. So to paraphrase Peter…whether you speak or serve, speak by the Spirit of God, serve in the strength of God, all for the glory of God. Amen.
Questions for personal reflection:
What desires do you believe the Lord has placed on your heart when it comes to serving the church of Jesus Christ and advancing His Kingdom?
What do the Scriptures say about those desires?
How has the church of Jesus Christ affirmed, or not affirmed those gifts in you?