I. Our love is revealed by ungrudging hospitality: The “one another’s” of the New Testament start with our heart attitude, including ungrudging hospitality (9).
By the way, hospitality, welcoming strangers, should apply to us as a church as much as it does to our home life. I read this excerpt from a letter a researcher sent to a friend…
“I am presently completing the second year of a three-year survey on the hospitality or lack of it in churches. To date, of the 195 churches I have visited, I was spoken to in only one by someone other than an official greeter—and that was to ask me to move my feet.”
Notice Peter speaks of the “manifold grace of God.” The idea is “multi-faceted.” This points to the diversity of gifts that God has given in the church. I don’t believe that we have an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament. It refers to any supernatural endowment that God has given us to build up the church and carry out His mission. For example, I don’t believe there is a “gift of encouragement” listed in the Bible. In fact we all are called to “encourage one another.” But I think when we look at the life of Barnabas, we see an example of someone who was especially empowered to encourage others. I’ve mentioned before that on our missionary team, when we first went to Brazil, we had a single woman who we called “our Barnabas.” Terri was constantly encouraging us and others on the team. I believe she had a gift. I believe we have at least a couple of people in our church with that gift. Likewise, we are all called to give, to support the ministries of the church, but some have a special “gift of giving” in that God has enabled them to earn at a high level and to give generously to His work. One family I know of has felt that God would have them tithe at 25% of their gross income. It’s not a burden for them, it’s a joy, a privilege. You too have a gift from God, along with every other aspect of the S.H.A.P.E. He has given you.
You might think, “I just don’t know what my gift is!” Don’t stress yourself trying to name your spiritual gifts. Look for opportunities to serve in the church. None of us should be content to go to church week after week, sing a few songs, hear a message, put something in the offering, and then go home. I read a story this week about the need for all of us the be involved...
“God has placed in our trust a measure of time, a unique set of talents, and sufficient resources to carry out His will for each of our lives. Our task as faithful stewards is to manage those blessings in order to bring the maximum glory to His name.”
If you don’t use your gift, you’re depriving me; if I don’t use my gift, I’m robbing you.”
Paul uses the metaphor of the church as a “body” in I Corinthians 12 and in Romans 12. Each part is important, essential, to the proper working of the whole. On Thursday we went to the park with our grandchildren. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I felt a sharp pain, like I got stabbed in the back with a knife, and went right down on the ground. That was the end of our play date! One muscle spasm (if that is what it was) and I was done! The body is a picture of us. No believer is complete by himself, we are to minister to one another, as a family. We need each other. Peter says you’ve been given a gift, “use it to serve one another,” not in our own strength, but “by the strength that God supplies...” Because God is at work, He gets the credit. With the ultimate goal of the glory of God we should love and serve one another.