“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, AV)
In 1969, I entered Drexel University as a freshman studying mechanical engineering. My mom and dad gave me a gift of $1,000 to attend. This was intended to pay my first year’s tuition. It does not seem like a lot today, but in 1969, it was a lot of money. It was all that they had. After that first year, I was going to be on my own. We presumed that I would take out a student loan for the rest of the time.
The gift of $1,000 was given with a great hope. It was that first, I would apply myself in school, meaning getting to the books and learning. Second, they hoped that the gift would result in me graduating and becoming a responsible adult contributing to society in some way. In doing so, this gift would result in my life bringing honor to my parents in some way.
The short story is that I graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and received a commission in the United States Army. After serving in the Army for just over four years, I took a position in a company as a project engineer. As I think back on it now, I can clearly see how much all of this brought honor to my parents and it was the gift I received from them that got me started on this path.
Here, Peter wrote about spiritual gifts. He indicated that every person has received a one. Paul wrote regarding spiritual gifts that a “manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7, AV). Every believer is given a spiritual gift at the moment of salvation. There are great purposes intended for this spiritual gift.
First, the spiritual gifts are given for the common good, to be used in the church to serve one another and build up the body of Christ, which is the church. The believer is to use the gift with the strength that God provides by His grace. In this way, the gift, the place of service, and the power to effectively serve are all provided by God for us.
Second, and more importantly, there is a greater purpose for the gift. That greater purpose is to glorify God. God provides each and every believer with all he or she needs to bring glory, honor, and praise to Him. All of this has been made possible for us because of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ who saved us from our sin and powerfully works in our lives every moment of every day.
However, there is one element that is essential for us to understand. We must use our gift for His glory. There is only one thing that can get in the way. It is our own flesh. The Scriptures are clear, we have a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit (Gal 5:17). If you are not using your spiritual gift in the church, it is likely that you are either not a believer, or are on the wrong side of the battle of which Paul wrote. In other words, the flesh may be winning. If this is the case, first “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10, AV). Second, seek to live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16). This happens when you seek the Lord with a whole heart, in His word, in His church, and in serving Him. Use the gift He has given for His glory.