Monday, June 19, 2006

Our Stewardship of Grace (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

After enjoining believers to fervent love (4:8) and uncomplaining hospitality toward one another (4:9), Peter calls each of us to employ the gift (Grk: charisma) we have received for the purpose of serving others (4:10). We are to use our gifts in a manner that plainly communicates their source: God. When we serve in this manner God is glorified through Christ (4:11).

Peter's exhortation teaches us several important truths about spiritual gifts:
1. Peter implies that each believer has received at least one gift.
2. The purpose of God's gracious gifts to us is that we serve one another. All gifts are service gifts. None are grounds for self-congratulatory comparison.
3. Peter directly ties our gifts into the primary purpose for which God created us: to glorify Him. God gifts us to glorify Him.
4. We glorify God in the use of our gifts when we openly acknowledge the source and power for our service. It is not inappropriate to thank people for their expressions of appreciation after we have edified them through our gifted service. And neither is it hyper-spiritual to add a phrase such as "the Lord helped me" or "Praise the Lord" after saying, "Thank you."

As I taught through this passage yesterday at the conclusion of a lesson on spiritual gifts, a phrase in verse ten that I had previously overlooked jumped out at me: "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

I think most believers associate stewardship with money or possessions. God owns it all; I'm just a steward. That is indeed true. But Peter tells us that we are also stewards of grace.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a steward of grace? The gifts God has given us are grace gifts. That means God has freely given them to us based not on our merit but on His wisdom.

We often approach the subject of spiritual gifts out of curiosity only to learn from Peter that they are actually a responsibility! Or perhaps I should say, they are a God-given opportunity to fulfill the two most important commands--to love God and others--through glorifying God in serving others.

Someday we will give an account for our stewardship of the gifts God has given us. May the Lord find us faithful stewards of His grace serving others to His glory through Christ Jesus!

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