Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace

Faithful Stewards of God's Grace Using Spiritual Gifts

The best book on spiritual gifts? God’s Word!

Just one verse alone can teach us so much as we saw in the previous posts looking at 1 Peter 4:10.

From that verse we learn what spiritual gifts are (expressions of God’s grace in its various forms), who has been given spiritual gifts (each one of us), how important it is to use it to serve others (each should serve using “whatever gift”), and how gifts should be used (faithfully). In this post we want to focus in on being “faithful stewards of God’s grace.”

Being Faithful as Stewards of God’s Grace

Using spiritual gifts expresses God’s grace, in its various forms. Serving others, therefore, isn’t merely about what we do, and it isn’t even just about helping others, but rather most importantly about showcasing God! Regardless of what our gift may be, whether we are upfront teaching or leading, or behind the scenes helping, we demonstrate God’s grace. Each expression of His grace contributes to a more complete understanding of who God is.

When we understand how using our spiritual gifts takes us beyond merely accomplishing some kind of task, to helping people better understand and know God, we should all the more want to serve. And, we should want to serve faithfully so we consistently and accurately represent Him. Grace elevates serving.

Stewards of and because of God’s Grace

Not only are we to be faithful stewards “of” God’s grace but also “because of” God’s grace. Spiritual gifts are given on the basis of grace not because of who we are or what we have done. As recipients of His grace, we have been given an entrustment which substantiates our role as stewards and gives us all the greater reason to be faithful. Stewards take care of that which isn’t their own, and so we have a sense of accountability as managers of His grace toward one another.

When we understand how we have been entrusted with God’s grace through the spiritual gifts we’ve been given, we should all the more want to serve faithfully. We got something we don’t deserve, making it a privilege not merely a duty for us to serve. Grace increases motivation and passion for serving.

Significance Because of God’s Grace

Sometimes in serving we compare ourselves to others and feel either insignificant as though our gift doesn’t matter or proud as though what we do is more important than others.

Significance in Ministry Due to God's Grace

1 Peter 4:10 teaches that spiritual gifts are expressions of God’s grace. We also find in Scripture that God gives spiritual gifts on the basis of grace. Consequently, we have significance in ministry because of God’s grace, not the spiritual gift.

1 Peter 4:10 also teaches that we use our gift(s) to serve others, not to elevate ourselves. Understanding spiritual gifting in terms of grace enables us to serve without need for applause. Our main concern becomes that others experience God’s grace in its various forms which means our individual parts are significant.

Significant Enough for God to Command Us to Use Our Spiritual Gifts

Using our gift, whatever it might be, isn’t an option. The NIV doesn’t do justice to the original language in wording it as “you should use whatever gift.” God isn’t saying it’s something we ought to do but rather that we should definitely do it. What God commands must be important. And, He will hold us accountable for using our gift to serve others as seen in in the qualification that we use our gift “as faithful stewards” — the topic of the next post.

Significance Because You are Needed

There’s a practical side to God commanding us to use our gift which makes each one of our contributions significant. As previously noted, each person, doing their part using their spiritual gift(s), adds in to a more complete understanding of God’s grace. We need each other, no matter what our gift may be. We find this concept in God’s analogy of the Church to the human body. He says, “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 Cor. 12:20-21)

Significance Based on God’s Grace Means No Comparing or Competing

Because of God’s grace we don’t have to compare or compete with others in ministry. They have been given spiritual gifts to serve based on God’s grace and so have you. Whether a leader or a secretary, whether a teacher or a teacher’s helper, whether a youth pastor or a nursery worker, whether paid staff or a lay person, everyone’s contribution matters.

You might find the following articles helpful if you struggle with significance in ministry:

Impartiality of God’s Grace

Impartiality of God's Grace in Distributing Spiritual GiftsGrace, by its very definition or essence, demands impartiality.

  • Grace is a free gift, meaning God provides it unconditionally, doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
  • Grace is the unmerited favor of God, meaning it’s not based on us earning or deserving it.

If, as 1 Peter 4:10 teaches, spiritual gifts are expressions of God’s grace, given on the basis of grace (Rom. 12:6), then He gives them without partiality.

What the Impartiality of God’s Grace in Distributing Spiritual Gifts Means

“Each of you” has at least one gift to be used to serve others. — “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7) Here we see the all-inclusive nature of God’s grace.

We don’t have to live up to a certain standard or spiritual status in order to receive a gift. Factors like our achievements, gender, race, or age don’t move God to give us gifts. He distributes spiritual gifts on the basis of grace, not merit or any other quality within us. The gift(s) we have doesn’t mean we deserve it more than other people or vice versa.

What the Impartiality of God’s Grace Does Not Mean

“Whatever gift you have received” suggests we have varying gifts. Gifts distributed on the basis of grace does not mean without discernment. — “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them just as He wanted them to be.” (1 Cor. 12:18) “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:11) “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Cor. 12:18)

We can trust God to know best. Whether given one gift or several, He enables us to serve in ways He deems best. It doesn’t make us better or worse than the person with less or more gifts. “Whatever” the gift, its use is significant in adding into the big picture of God’s grace — the topic of the next post.

Expressions of God’s Grace

God saves us because of His grace (Eph. 2:8-9). And, His grace proves sufficient in trials (2 Cor. 12:8-10) and temptations (Titus 2:11-12) to enable us to rise above. As beneficiaries of God’s grace, we in turn administer that grace to others “in its various forms” (1 Pet. 4:10).

Many Facets of God’s Grace

God’s grace far exceeds our ability to fully comprehend it. Yet, we find expressions of God’s grace as we use our spiritual gifts to serve others. Each of the spiritual gifts provides a different facet of His grace. Don’t take my word on this but rather see what God says in the context of these passages on spiritual gifting:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Rom. 12:6)

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (Eph. 4:7)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)

Spiritual Gifts are Expressions of the Many Facets of God’s Grace

When we use our spiritual gifts we express God’s grace to others.

Spiritual Gifts are Expressions of God's GraceNotice how 1 Peter 4:10 equates using spiritual gifts with stewarding God’s grace — “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” Also note that the Greek word for spiritual gifts, charisma, used in many passages, like 1 Peter 4:10, comes from the root word (charis) for grace. Finally, the gift is something we have “received” not earned or developed within ourselves — the very essence of God’s grace.

Consequently, when we all use our gifts to serve others, we begin to see a more complete picture of His grace. That’s one of the reasons churches should seek teach about and function in accordance with spiritual gifting. Note these truths from 1 Peter 4:10

  1. “Each of you” should serve using the spiritual gift(s) given to you.
  2. Each should view their gift as significant, “whatever gift” it might be, so we get a more complete picture of God’s grace.
  3. Each should serve faithfully “as faithful stewards of God’s grace.”

We’ll look at each of the above points in upcoming posts.

Reaching Maximum Effectiveness

We can be very busy in church and ministry doing lots of things, even good things, but be far from reaching maximum effectiveness. Perhaps it’s because we aren’t using God’s standard of measurement. If you haven’t already done so, read the previous post before continuing on: Measuring Maximum Effectiveness

God not only defines maximum effectiveness,

… so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants … (Eph. 4:12-14)

but He also lets us know the means of getting there.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:15-16)

Maximum effectiveness in the Church can only be reached by maximizing the means He designed to get us there.

1) Maximize Reliance on God.

Depend on Him to equip (Eph. 4:11-12) and empower you to reach this measure of effectiveness.

Read: 2 Corinthians 9:8, Hebrews 13:20-21, and 2 Peter 1:3-8

Ask: How is the prayer ministry in your church?

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2) Maximize Christ-likeness in all you do.

Yield to the work of the Holy Spirit so you reflect more and more of the character of Jesus, with love being the ultimate reflection.

Read: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Galatians 5:16-26 and 2 Peter 1:5-9

Ask: Does your church purpose reflect the need to love as He loves?

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3) Maximize Involvement in the Church.

Encourage everybody to do their part.

Read: Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, and Ephesians 4:11-16

Ask: Are you teaching about and following God’s design for the Body?

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Measuring Maximum Effectiveness

Is your church or ministry reaching maximum effectiveness? Your answer to that question depends on how you define and measure effectiveness.

How Some Churches & Ministries Measure Maximum Effectiveness

  • If based on the number of members and/or attendees, some churches might seem like they’ve arrived.
  • If evaluated in terms of efficient administrative organization, some churches might seem effective.
  • If measured for excellent media and technological prowess, some churches might appear to have it all.
  • If gauged by the number of programs offered, some churches might feel pretty good about themselves.
  • If determined by the size of the pastoral staff, some churches might surpass others.

How God Measures Maximum Effectiveness

Certainly God values numeric growth, efficiency, and excellence. And, our programs and pastoral staff can be used by Him to accomplish what He wants us to do. Yet, if we read Ephesians 4:12-13, we learn that we haven’t arrived until . . .

  • we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
  • and become mature
  • attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:15-16 continues to speak about growing up “into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Questions to Ask to Determine if We are Reaching Maximum Effectiveness

Instead of asking how many members, staff, or programs we have, or to what level of efficiency or excellence we have obtained, let’s first ask questions that line up with God’s standard of measurement as found in Ephesians 4:12-13.

  • How well are we getting along in our church?
  • How well do we handle disagreements and differences?
  • Where are people in their walk with God?
  • To what extent are we discipling people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ?
  • How much are we looking to Christ as the Head of the Church?
  • How Christ-like are we?
  • How important is Christ-like character to us?

Once we can satisfactorily answer these questions, then we might find answers to the other types of questions we often ask to measure effectiveness more useful.

But, it’s also important to ask how God intends for us to reach His standard of maximum effectiveness. Look for the next post.

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