The next gift is the gift of guiding. Think of it as the gift of leadership. Oh, how we need leadership in the Church of God today! We need leadership like we find in 1 Chronicles 12:32, about the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We are told to exercise leadership with diligence. If we are going to be people who know what to do in these times, we must be diligent.
Think of the next gift as a gift of going. I am referring to the gift of showing mercy. If we are going to show mercy, then we have to be willing to go to someone who needs mercy—like people who are sick, or afflicted in some way. Sometimes, they are depressed and we have to make the first move. Do this cheerfully—but with sensitivity. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
We have only touched on this list of gifts. There are all kinds of other gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians 4, and all of these “gifts,” I have discussed are not natural abilities or talents. No, no. This are gifts of grace—gifts God gives each of us to be used ministering to one another, and the world. While everyone has at least one gift, no one has all the gifts. That is why we need one another. What would happen if all those with the gift of teaching refused to teach? What would happen if all those with the gift of serving refused to serve? What would happen if all those with the gift of mercy or hospitality or music decided just to quit? What a bleak place the church would be!
You need to see that when you joined the local church, you were placed in a vital, living relationship with the brothers and sisters who are here. You have a gift. You have a ministry. You have a role. You have a function to perform in the body of Christ. That function is not just for your own good, but for the good of all. Everyone wasn’t called to be a pastor, or a teacher, or deacon. You might not be a gifted musician, or be gifted to work with children. However, you do have a ministry.
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. Let’s quit being philosophical here. You might not have the gift of teaching, but you might be a great host. Maybe your gift is in giving your time or money. Don’t get all upset when you don’t have a particular calling or gift. Be who you are!
If the whole body was an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body was an ear, where would the sense of smell be? Our Lord has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 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!” (1 Corinthians 12:14-21)
We need one another. Eyes are wonderful, but what good would they be without a head to put them in? Ears are wonderful. Ugly, but wonderful. But what good would they be without a head to hang them on? God is the designer of the body. He gave you precisely the gift that he knew we needed. You just need to begin to function.
The Church is not merely an organization. The Church is an organism. It is a living, dynamic body of believers in Jesus Christ who have entered into a covenant relationship with God and with one another, and who are responsible to God and to one another. God help us to be the kind of Church that is consecrated to God, committed to one another, and calling to the world to look to Jesus and be saved.
God help us to be alive in Jesus. So many churches are not. They are like the prophecy of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14. There the real question was “can these bones live?” And the answer was that they could only as the breath of God inhabited them. Then they stood on their feet as a mighty army. This is the only way the churches of Jesus Christ will go forth as a mighty army today. We need the same breath of God to fill us. That is what makes the church alive.
All that being said, I still hear people say, “The church is full of hypocrites.” Someone else will say, “They don’t practice what they preach.” “If that’s what Christianity is, I don’t want any.” People usually say this as an excuse for their lack of commitment—and the reason they get away with it is that there is an element of truth in them. There are hypocrites in the church. There are people who don’t practice what they preach, and there are people who show, by their lack of faithfulness, that what they have isn’t worth very much.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome