Imagine you are trying to run a home construction business. You have to have workers with a variety of building skills and trades. Concrete workers are needed for the foundation, who begin the project after the heavy equipment operators have prepared the site. Then framing crews build out the house according to the architect’s plans and prints. Plumbers and electricians rough-in the pipes and wires before the drywall crew puts up the interior walls. Flooring workers and painters begin to finish the interior, while bath and kitchen installers do their expensive work. All sorts of other personnel finish off the project inside and out. It takes quite a variety of people to make the project a success.
But imagine that the electricians are just, frankly, flakey about their commitment to the project and dependability when really needed. They always seem to have some excuse or conflict of life right at the time their work is needed to efficiently advance the construction project. It not only negatively affects the schedule to complete the home, it impacts everyone else and messes with their plans. Sometimes other tradesmen have to cover for the electricians and do the best they can to get some of the work done.
This week we are talking about why we gather as God’s people … why should we value regularity and consistency in attendance together? Another reason is because we need you, and you need us. All of us have been given different gifts to serve others. None of us have all the gifts, so all of us need something from someone else. And just like with the construction illustration above, when segments of the church family don’t value being regular in attendance for whatever reason, they hurt everyone else by not having their skills and gifts present. And without realizing it, over time, they are hurting themselves even worse.
When we think of the topic of the variety of spiritual gifts that are given, we think of three passages: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. But another great Scripture is 1 Peter 4:7-11, where it says …
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
If the end of all things was near in the thinking of Peter, how much more true is it now? And in the family of faith there is nothing more significantly effective for family health than being committed to deeply loving one another. The verb here in the Greek language is a word that speaks of an effort with great straining, most often used of an athlete straining to win and compete at the highest level. If everyone in a church was committed to love like that, a lot of silly annoyances would be overlooked and a healthier atmosphere would ensue.
Another unique word is the verb in verse 9 about offering hospitality. It is a combination of the word for brotherly love (phileo) and a term for strangers (xenophos). So expressing care and kindness to lesser-known folks as if they are family, and doing so without grumbling, is a great value for a body-building church.
And then Peter turns to people using gifts to serve one another, each person doing it as a faithful steward. This word is an oft-used term of the manager of a household — the person put in charge of a wealthy master’s multiple resources to dispense them and use them for the good of the whole household.
The gifts of the Spirit given to the body of Christ have varied forms. There will be speaking gifts and serving gifts. They are all of value for the total good and success of the church, and they are all needed to be dispensed in regular and faithful ways by those who possess them … and that includes everybody.
So, are you a dependable tradesman in building the body of Christ in the local church, or are you like one of those annoying electricians who always have some excuse for not showing up and helping and getting their work done in a timely fashion? Don’t be an annoying electrician. We need YOU (and you need us). You’ve been given a gift to use.