I have a dear friend who is an artist. Her work covers the walls of my home. I love learning about her creative process, the various mediums she uses, and what she is learning through her work. Most of all, I love how she images God and points to him through her creativity.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot draw more than a stick figure. I can't paint or sculpt or take half decent photographs. While the Lord hasn't gifted me in that way, he has given me other gifts. In fact, he gives all believers gifts to use to build up the body of Christ.
Gifts in the Body of Christ
The Apostle Paul used a metaphor of the human body to describe the church and how it functions. "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them" (Romans 12:4-6)
God gives us all different gifts and graces to use to build up and help the church body grow. Each one of us has gifts and they are all important. Your gift might be teaching or preaching. Another's might be service. Still another may have artistic or musical gifts. Some gifts are more prominent and noticeable, while others have gifts that are used behind the scenes. Each one of those gifts is important. We need everyone's gifts to make the church body function.
What this means is, we shouldn't think our gifts are less important than another's. We shouldn't think that those who have gifts that are more prominent and out there, like preaching the word, or leading worship, is more important to the body of Christ than the person who rocks the babies in the nursery.
The Westminster Confession says:
"All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in his grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man."
Through our union with Christ, we are united to one another. God gave us our gifts for each other's benefit. When we use our gifts, we have communion with one another in them. Even more, we are obligated to use our gifts for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Honor One Another's Gifts
When it comes to the gifts we have, it's important that we remember our unity in Christ. We are one body, united under Christ our head. Our gifts and graces are not for us to keep to ourselves; they are for the benefit of one another. They help us all grow. And they make ready the church, the Bride of Christ, for our Savior's return.
We should desire to see everyone use their gifts for the good of the church. We should seek to utilize everyone's gifts. We should look for those who are on the sidelines and help them explore ways to use their gifts, asking: "How can we all work together for the good of the church?" Because when everyone in the church is working together and doing their part, the church grows, thrives, and lives out her unity in Christ. Ephesians 4:16 says, "...from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
Because of our union with one another, when a person uses their gift, we ought to rejoice with them in it. We should appreciate one another's gifts. We should encourage one another in using their gifts. We shouldn't envy or begrudge a brother or sister who uses their gift for God's glory. We shouldn't compare each other's gifts. In fact, we need to honor one another for their gifts, telling others what their gifts mean to us. In Romans 12:10, Paul instructed believers to "outdo one another in showing honor."
Tell the volunteers in the children's program what their service means to the body of Christ. Encourage the pastor by telling him how the Spirit used his sermon to impact your heart. Share with others about how a church member's gifts have served you. Rejoice when a brother or sister uses their gifts. Honor a brother or sister's art work or writings or musical talent. Speak of how indispensable a person's gift of administration or service or mercy is to the church.
May we all work together, using whatever gifts and graces we've been given, to build up the body and to live out our unity with Christ and one another-- until the church is radiant and beautiful, ready for her Bridegroom's return.
Christina Fox is a graduate of Covenant College and received her Master's in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She serves on the national women's ministry team of the PCA and is the editor of enCourage. Christina is a conference and retreat speaker and writes for a number of Christian ministries including TGC and Ligonier. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope through the Psalms of Lament and Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish. You can find her atwww.christinafox.com.