I still remember that summer evening in Georgia when, as a new Christian, I heard the Bible taught for the first time. I sat there stunned, as Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 were explained. I had had no idea that Bible teaching could be so alive and feed my heart’s hunger for truth. I listened and learned that not only was I now God’s child, but I was also interconnected with every other person who believed in Jesus. To use the phrase from the 60s, all of us were now part of God’s Forever Family.
A family that was God’s, and a family that was forever. Those friendships were close, and I felt as if I truly did have new sisters and brothers. I can recall the songs, tears, hugs and laughter. I remember times of fun and times of help as we shared in each others’ lives.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:7, that God has given to each Christian the means to help each other; these gifts of God are different, but every single one visibly manifests, or, as D. A. Carson says, shows, God’s Spirit for the help of all. In 1 Peter 4:10, Peter writes:
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Look at what this brief verse teaches about spiritual gifts. Each believer has received a special gift with a responsibility of service towards other believers and an accountability of stewardship towards God. A special gift—for serving others—as good stewards.
Notice the gifts are received. Spiritual gifts are given by God—they are not of ourselves— we are stewards. We have been entrusted with spiritual gifts for the specific purpose of service. Notice also the further explanation Peter gives regarding our stewardship: we are stewards of the manifold grace of God. Each of these gifts are part of God’s manifold grace to His children. One of my pastors, Mike Braun, used to define grace as God’s provision for what you need. Well, the different gifts are part of God’s provision for what we need!
So what does this have to do with a cat holding a ball of yarn? The Greek word that is translated as manifold, ποικίλος, means many-colored. God has given to each believer in Jesus different gifts. We need to hear the Bible taught—He gives the gift of teaching; we need a listening ear—He gives the gift of encouragement; we need help to care for a sick child—He gives the gift of service; each gift of grace is given by God and manifests His care for us. We are not one member, but many members in one body, the body of Christ, and we cannot say we have no need of each other.
. . . we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.Ephesians 4:15b-16
If we can grasp the connection between spiritual gifts and being stewards of God’s grace, it will help us shift our focus of understanding of spiritual gifts to God and to each other, rather than ourselves. We are stewards in service, not stars of a show. What we give to each other enables each other to grow as Christians. What we give to each other enables each other to walk faithfully with God.
Beloved, let us love one another—
serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Spielendes Kätzchen: Loliloli, Public Domain
Spools of Thread: USDA, Public Domain
D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit (Baker Books: 1987).
Original content: Copyright ©2010–2014 Iwana Carpenter