Understand Your Gifts

Brothers & Sisters

Pastor Deone Drake - March 5, 2023

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message.
  2. How did this message strengthen, confirm and/or correct your previous ideas about spiritual gifts? 
  3. A spiritual gift is “an enablement from the spirit to make much of Jesus and benefit the body”. How does this compare to your previous understanding of spiritual gifts? 
  4. What is your response to a brother or sister in Christ who does not know their spiritual gift, claim they do not have one, or suggests they have a spiritual gift that is not biblical? 
  5. What value can a spiritual gifts test bring to the discovery of your own gifts? What is the limitation of a spiritual gift test? What needs to surround it to have a well-rounded understanding of your gifts? 
  6. What are some examples of spiritual gifts? Consider gifts found in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12:3-13. 
  7. What is (are) your spiritual gift(s)? 
    • How did God reveal these gifts to you? 
    • How are you currently stewarding your gifts? 
  8. If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, how can you foster intimacy with God in your life? In what area(s) can this group keep you accountable to fostering intimacy with God? 

Action Step

Prayerfully consider this statement: “Love’s response to the Spirit is: whenever, however, wherever, I am available.” Ask God for wisdom in stewarding your gifts this week. Every time you are in your car, pray for God to use you at your intended destination. At the end of each day, journal the ways in which God used you. 

Mobilization Challenge

Practice sharing your grace story at least once per day this week. You can view Pastor Leroy’s training video titled Sharing the Gospel with Everyone on thechapel.com/chapelplus for further training on sharing the gospel and your grace story. 


Sermon Transcript

Wednesday is Grandma Pat and Papa D day over at John and Gabe's house. We love being there Wednesday. We actually revolve our whole week around Wednesday, getting to spend time with Marco, our grandson, who is four, all day long and then Giovanna, our eight year old. We get to spend part of the day, as she's in school most of the day. We love doing that. As I said, we revolve our whole life around that. And in fact, of course, we like to insert stories about our grandchildren whenever we get a chance, even when we're preaching a message. We love spending time with our grandchildren. But on Wednesday over at my son and his wife's house, there is one extra feature that makes it really enjoyable, and that is in their living room, John and Gabe have a wide, beautiful, comfortable brown leather lounge chair that becomes my home for most of the day on Wednesday, especially when I need a brief nap, because grandparenting is hard work. It's a gift to me, that lounge chair is; it's a gift to me. The trouble is I don't think Marco, our four-year old, sees it that way because there are times when I get over to that house and he's got blankets all over that chair using it as a fort to hide in. Or when I get over there, he uses that lounge chair as a parking lot for every last toy truck and car he has. He just doesn't understand that that is a gift for me. In fact, I would like to suggest key word here. He is uninformed about the purpose of that gift, but that's okay because that's what kids do. We turn our attention this morning to 1 Corinthians 12. We've been going through a series that details how a church in Corinth is acting like kids all the way through the book. So it should not surprise us when we come to chapter 12 that they're acting like kids regarding their spiritual gifts. They're drawing attention to gifts that are spectacular and ignoring others. They're not using their gift for the way they intended any more than Marco is allowing me to use the chair for the way it's intended. That's what kids do. Well, the Apostle Paul wants to help them, and at least it seems they want him to help them as well, because this is one of those issues that they write to him about. And so I'm going to focus starting with verse one. Look at what he says. "Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be be uninformed." I do not want you to be uninformed regarding spiritual gifts. That word uninformed in the Greek language is the Greek word "to know", and all he does is stick an alpha in front of it to negate it. Literally, I do not want you to not know. About what? About spiritual gifts. What an interesting observation for his time, because at this church, that's exactly what they were. They were uninformed. What an interesting observation about us for our time. A recent Barna Poll surveying Christians found this out. 15% do not know their gift. 28% said they don't have one, which is scary. 20% claim to have a gift that is not even remotely biblical, like my spiritual gift is my sense of humor. And two-thirds said they have no idea how to apply what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts. Is that not an interesting observation for our time? One translation says of spiritual gifts, I do not want you to be ignorant and yet many believers are. So Paul wanted to help them. I want to help you. And so what I want to do is walk through 1 Corinthians 12 with you and starting with the phrase, "I do not want you to be uninformed." As I went through this chapter, I found at least six reasons why we might be uninformed regarding spiritual gifts. Here's the first. We forget what gifts are and what gifts are for. I guess if I'm going to do my work correctly, the first thing we would want to do is make sure all of us understand what a spiritual gift is. And to get there, I'm going to use verse three in this chapter and then verse six, and actually make a walking definition of what a spiritual gift is. I start with verse three. "Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the spirit of God says, 'Jesus, be cursed' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." Or through the Holy Spirit or from the Holy Spirit. So I start off this way, a spiritual gift is an enablement from the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus Christ, the moment we place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence. And He begins to empower us to live the life that Christ wants us to live. And beyond that, he also enables all of us, every single one who claims the name of Jesus with at least one unique gift, enablement to help fulfill the mission that Christ gave. You know what that mission is. We were there just a little while ago, a few months ago in Acts chapter one, verse eight, he says, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." He says, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Now, that power is not exclusively your spiritual gift, but it's part of it. And so He enables you to be His witnesses by giving you a spiritual gift. Let's continue with that definition, going back to the same verse. "I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus, be cursed' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." Now, Paul is not foolish enough to think that no one can put these three words together. Jesus is Lord. He's talking about the confession of your heart, what you really mean deep down inside that Jesus Christ is your Lord. And so I put it this way, it's a divine or an enablement from the Holy Spirit to make much of Jesus. I think when he says Jesus is Lord, this is what he's getting after, that a gift is your way because of the spirits working inside of you for you to make much of Jesus. It's a capacity that you did not have and you did not want before you came to Christ. But it is something you want now that your life would be making much of Jesus. Now, what's interesting to me is that before Jesus went back to heaven and went to the cross, He actually told us, He told His disciples that this is exactly what would happen. John 16:14, "He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." He will glorify me. When the spirit of God takes up residence in your heart, He will motivate and move you to glorify Jesus, to make much of Jesus. Let me tell you something. As you and I surrender more and more of our life to God, Jesus and the Spirit are going to reorient your life. You will want to increasingly make much of Jesus. You will want to decreasingly make anything of you. This is how you begin to prepare to be used by Him. And concerning spiritual gifts, my goodness, you will not want to be like the church of Corinth to use your gift to draw attention to yourself. No one, in my opinion, has ever said this better than Corrie Ten Boom. She was once asked, "How do you stay so humble, going from the concentration camps in World War II to world-renowned mostly through the Billy Graham crusade? This was her response: "when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments on the road and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?" And then she said, "If I can be that donkey." Let me tell you something. Using your spiritual gift in the right way is you becoming the donkey that Jesus rides into His glory. It takes humility. No question about it. But it's what He's called us to. Let me finish our definition by looking at verse seven of the same chapter. "Now to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." I would like to say it this way. A spiritual gift is an enablement from the Holy Spirit to make much of Jesus and to benefit the body. The body is us. God is going to uniquely give you a capacity through His Spirit to make much of Jesus and to build up or to benefit the body. As we use our gifts together, we build up the body together, we strengthen the body together to accomplish all that God intended it to accomplish. Paul said as much in Ephesians where he also talked about spiritual gifts, he says, "From him," that's Christ, "The whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part, each part does its work." So this is what a spiritual gift is: it is an enablement from the spirit. This is what a spiritual gift is for: to make much of Jesus and to build up or benefit the body. I think we can move beyond that and we can now be informed if we grab a hold of that. Here's a second reason why we might be uninformed. We start with us and not the Trinity. We start with us and not the Trinity. It is natural, normal, I guess, to ask this question, what is my spiritual gift? That's a good question. I just don't think it's the best one. Let me tell you why. Because when we often ask that question, what's my spiritual gift? It might lead us to try to take a spiritual gift test. Now I'm gonna say, and I'll say again, there is value in that, but I want you to know that a spiritual gift test was not an option for the church through much of its history. In fact, I gotta be honest with you, I think the Apostle Paul would chuckle if he found out that believers in the 21st century were trying to discover their spiritual gift by taking a gift test. I think it's got some value, but the problem can be just like taking any kind of test, like a personality test, is you aren't always that objective about yourself if you haven't realized that, you need to. And so I might look at that spiritual gift test and say, "What I prefer is my gift and what I prefer may not be my gift." I really think there ought to be a warning label on spiritual gift test. Do not take home alone, rather, listen, take it in community. And if you think this is my commercial for community, you're absolutely right. You need to be doing life with other believers so they can help you figure out your spiritual gift. But I still don't think that's the best place to start. I think the best place to start is to get along with God. Like, a lot. We focus rightfully so on intimacy with the Father. And it is through this intimate relationship with the Father that I begin to figure out what my gift is. Why? Because He's the one who gives them. Paul said so in verse four, look at this. "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. So I begin to start with Him. God, in my intimate relationship with You, I am finding and discovering that You are pointing me in certain directions. Why is that so important? Because the church does not need you or me to be where you want to be. The church needs you and me to be where God has called you, God has placed you, because God has equipped you. And I gotta tell you in my own journey, it is such a joy to have that intimate relationship where He confirms through that intimacy what your gift is. And I think this is how He does it. I don't know if you can tell, but I would say this, when I teach, I feel God's pleasure. Get in on that. Develop such an intimate relationship with God that when you're doing what He's gifted you to do, you feel His pleasure. There might be a third reason why we might be uninformed regarding gifts, and it's this. Your gift might not be mentioned in the Bible. Your gift may not be named or mentioned in the Bible. Now that does not mean, again, that it's something silly. Like my gift is my sense of humor or my gift is my sarcasm. But what I mean is that maybe it's the talked about in the Bible, but it's not labeled as a gift. So there are four different conversations in the New Testament about spiritual gifts: Here in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians four, and then First Peter four. And there are lists of gifts in all four places. Here's the deal, none of the lists are the same, which has led people a whole lot smarter than me to conclude that maybe the list is not exhaustive, maybe it's illustrative. In other words, maybe God will enable you to something that may not be listed as a gift. I can give one example and an illustration behind it: prayer. Now we are all commanded to pray. Of course, we are. But I also believe that God does enable through His Spirit some people to have a gift of prayer where they are enabled to see God do great things through their prayer. When I was growing up, there was a dad in my church who I believe had that kind of prayer gift, if you will. And when his son became a teenager, he began to walk away from the Lord, and so that dad began to pray for his son, of course. An later on, maybe four or five years later, he returned back to Christ. Then he called his dad and told him, "Dad, I've come back to Christ." And that dad said, "I know. God told me I didn't need to pray for you anymore." That's this. And so maybe to get after your gift, maybe this particular verse, Colossians 3:17, might be a good way to get there. "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." What is it? What is it that you can do or say in the name of Jesus Christ, for heaven's sake, do it. There might be a fourth reason why we're uninformed about spiritual gifts. And of course this is what draws the most attention in 1 Corinthians 12, we focus on the sensational and not on the common. We focus on the sensational and not the common. In their kid-like way, they focused on healings and miracles and speaking in tongues. Don't get me wrong, they're spectacular signs. And when God has chosen to to use those, His people ought to be amazed. But the Corinthians found themselves in a very bad spot because they elevated those special spectacular gifts and they diminished the common gifts that maybe are not so spectacular. There are churches today that still emphasize the spectacular gifts. And my argument this morning is not with them. My thinking is about people maybe in a different kind of culture who make celebrities out of communicators of the word and out of worship leaders. That is the same thing where we elevate what we think, what we think are spectacular and we ignore the common. Paul has some really strong words about doing that. And we'll start with verse 21. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I do not need you.' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, like your toe, and the parts that we think are less honorable, we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable, we cover up and treat with modesty, while our presentable parts," those spectacular gifts, if you will, "need no special treatment" 'cause they already have it. "But God has put the body together giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." This may require, I think, for us to think a little bit differently about the body. We honor and sometimes give too much honor to communicators and worship leaders and we ignore the usher or the king's world volunteer or the one who serves anonymously on serve day. We're not doing anything much different than the Corinthians. On this side, if you will, we often hear things like, "I wish I could do what Jerry does," or "I wish I could do what Nick Kish did, who just led us in worship here at the CrossPoint campus." What we don't hear is something like this, "I wish I could do what Marie Wolfe did. And some of you would say, "Who?" That's the point. Marie Wolfe is someone who went home to be with the Lord. I think she was 95 or 96 last year. And up until a couple years ago, she was clearing off and cleaning off the tables after a legacy, our senior adult ministry, a legacy dinner while people half her age sat there and watched her. I wish I could do what Marie Wolfe did or I wish I could be like Cara Kissner. Again, "Who?" That's the point. But she also in her 90s would be sending out, and I mean this, thousands of cards every year to birthday people, anniversary people, sick people, shut-in people. Why is it? Why is it that we want to be like the spectacular and the sensational who do not need extra attention, he says, but we don't want to be the nobody. There's a fifth reason. Maybe we're not in the game. Maybe we might be uninformed because we're not in the game. In other words, we're not involved in, in other words, we're not even trying to figure out what our spiritual gift is and to use it. He uses the analogy of a body. He's telling us, listen, each body part represents a spiritual gift and that spiritual gift is necessary to the body. For example, the eye is a gift to the body, not if it's closed, not if it's not being used. So we might say, for example, to take us out of the game, well, I'm not needed. In fact, those are direct words from Paul where he writes in verse 16 and 17: "If the ear should say, 'Because I'm not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not be for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?" To say I'm not needed, we hear this too often. This is such a big church. There's no way in the world they could ever need me. You could not be more wrong. That's not the way God has designed the body to function. Every part doing its part. Or you might say, "I don't need you." I mean that comes straight out of the text. Verse 21: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'" These are the lone rangers. These are the people, sorry, who come in on a Sunday, sit, leave, and contribute nothing to the body until they take up space the following Sunday, because they have the idea, I can do life on my own. You could not be more wrong. You know, in the Old Testament, God would often use the prophets to use themselves as an illustration to make a point, like Ezekiel laying on his side for 390 days. Let me be an Old Testament prophet for a minute. Here's my right hand. Now, this is one of the side effects of what happened to me in August of 2020. It honestly is getting better through PT, but we still got a long way to go, as you can tell. I have one functional hand. If it were not for my wife being at home with me this morning, I wouldn't be here right now. I'd be home still trying to figure out how to get these collars buttoned, right? I don't say that to make you feel sorry for me. I say, imagine the Body of Christ, the church having one functional hand and you're the other functional hand, but you're no way around to help. Or let me even go one step farther. And this might seem grotesque, but it's true. What if you have completely cut yourself off from the body? That sounds like an amputation to me. And I understand that there's a thing in an amputation where a person will begin to experience phantom pain. In other words, that leg or that arm or that hand should be there. I feel it should be there, but it's not. Imagine the Body of Christ feeling that way. There's an eye out there, there's a hand out there, there's a foot out there, there's a leg out there that should be helping, but it's cut off. It shouldn't be that way. And what's really problematic if we're really thinking clearly is when you say, "I'm not needed" or "I don't need you," then what we're really saying is, "You know what? I'm smarter than God." 'Cause God said, "This is the way I want my body to be so I become involved." Here's the last reason. We do not pursue the best way. Paul, when he writes, is always going somewhere. And so it should not surprise us that he ends this chapter. Of course, chapter divisions did not exist when he wrote. But he ends this section of thought by pointing us forward to something. 1 Corinthians 12:31, he says this, so eagerly desire the greater gifts. Now we know, leave that up there for a minute. We know that he's not talking about the sensational gifts. He's not saying pursue those. He's saying, "Pursue the gifts that will help the body. And yet I will show you the most excellent way." Those two words. The most excellent way, you might see it in other translations, a surpassing way. This is so important that we get this. That phrase most excellent or more surpassing way, the Greek word is . And it's almost literally translated hyperbole and it means, listen, to throw farther. Now suppose I'm at Highmark Stadium this afternoon and I'm at the goal line, and someone places a football in my hand. Fortunately, I'm left-handed and they tell me, "Throw the ball as far as you can." You might, you might get 25 yards out of me, but suppose standing next to me is Josh Allen and he's given the same command. "Throw the ball as far as you can." Can we all assume and agree that he'll probably throw it a lot farther? I think we can. I think you knew that. So when Paul says, yeah, find out what your gift is and for heaven's sakes, use it. But I want to give you something that will cause you to out-distance that gift. And going from verse 31 to 1 Corinthians 13, and the theme of 1 Corinthians 13 is love. Policing, yes. Please find out what your spiritual gift is, but for heaven's sakes, I want to you to understand that love will cause you to throw your life farther in the direction that God wants you to go than your gift will. And maybe Paul is saying to me and to you, the fruit of the spirit, which is love, will out-distance your gift. Your coworkers, your friends, your kids, your grandkids don't care what your gift is, but they do care that you love. My life was changed significantly when I came across this statement and began to embrace it. Dan Allen writes in the book "Bold Love", "Love is the measure by which my life will be assessed. Such a measuring rod strips me of any self importance." If I am no longer or "if I am judged," excuse me, on how I love and not on how many books I sell, seminars I give, people I counsel, then at one level it does not really matter if I write, teach, or counsel. It matters only that I love." I want you to walk out of here saying, "It matters only that I love." Eight days ago, a week ago, Saturday, I was at a restaurant with my wife sitting across the table. And that morning I had been working on this message and I began to share some of our ideas. And then I began to think. You know, next month, April, April 12th, I will have been married to her for 38 years and yet I don't think I know what her spiritual gift is. I think I had some ideas and we had conversation along those lines, but I don't really think that I know what my wife's spiritual gift is. But here's what I know. She loves Jesus more than anybody I've ever met. And she loves the people in her life with the love of Jesus better than anyone I've ever met. She gets it, right? This past Monday I was sitting with Pastor Jerry in his office and we were, again, going over these ideas for this message. And as he graciously prayed for the effects this message would have this morning, I began to think, whenever I am around Pastor Jerry, I want to be more like Jesus. And you might question the motive for why I would say that. I say it for this: deep down inside, I think you want that. I really think you want that. That when people spend time with you, that they walk away from you and say, "I really want to be more like Jesus," that's getting what Paul is after. But he would also tell us a spiritual gift, an enablement from the Spirit, that maybe being led by the Spirit will also out-distance your gift. Because sometimes when we figure out what our gift is, we say, this is the lane I'm going to walk in and this is the only lane I'm gonna walk. This is my gift. Like, it's yours. This is it. I'm gonna stay in this lane. And the Holy Spirit might lead you to say, you know what? I might move you in ways that are beyond your gift to show you that I'm in control of your life and not you. You're at a Panera or wherever, I'm not advertising. And there's a single mom with her toddler nearby and she's having a complete meltdown, not the kid, the mom. And you recognize that life has become completely overwhelming to her. And as you observe this, you're getting a nudge from the Spirit to go help her. You cannot respond. Mercy is not my gift. You must realize that you being this close is not an accident. It's a divine appointment. And you rely completely on the Holy Spirit and say, Lord, fill me enough of with Your love, with Your love so I can make much of Jesus and help this dear lady. Because at the end of the day, what spiritual gifts is all about and what love is all about is this: love's response to the Spirit is whenever, however, wherever I am available. Now, guess my question is, does God's Spirit know that about you? That you are available? That you're done calling the shots? That you're gonna find out what your gift is? But more importantly, you're gonna connect to the one who loves? And you're gonna say, "Lord, wherever, however, whenever, I am available." Would you bow your heads with me and close your eyes? In this time of personal reflection, in just a few moments, the worship team is gonna come back up here and they're gonna lead us in declaring a song that goes along with the idea I just gave you. But now is the time for you to do business with God and say, God, you know my heart. Where's the resistance? Where have I been saying no? Where is my yes, not on the table? Where am I being resistant to what you really want to do? Lord, right now in this quiet time of prayer, I am surrendering my life to you. Go ahead and pray.

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