Ephesians 4:7-10: The different gifts part 2
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes of Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio on Sunday, September 10, 2017
As I thought about this sermon I knew I wanted to write more about this passage in Ephesians. However, I did not know what more I wanted to say. We are going to talk more about spiritual gifts next week as we get into the gifts themselves. Today, I wish to talk more about the motivation beyond the gifts. First, allow me to read something I read on the introduction to Ephesians in a Spiritual Formation Bible:
Twentieth Century archaeology has uncovered several curious things about the ancient Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Among them is the random design of the southern stairs, which carried weary pilgrims from the Tyropoean Valley several hundred feet up to the Temple itself. It was discovered that the steps were an engineering nightmare. The rise of the steps varied in some instances by several inches, while the stretch often varied by several feet. The conclusion was as painful as it was obvious: either the design engineers were incompetent or intoxicated! The ancient rabbis, our primary teachers in spiritual formation, however, had a different take. They though theologically about this matter as well as every other. In their view, the engineers of the ancient Temple Mount knew that to ascend the hill of the Lord hurriedly and without thought would be spiritually ill advised. You must approach the Temple as you would approach God, cautiously and with measured steps. These uneven steps to the presence of God are a metaphor for reading Ephesians, and indeed the entire Bible, with a view toward spiritual formation. Read it slowly and cautiously or else you fall (The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. Foster, Richard, et al. Harper San Francisco. 2005. Page 2117.)
Wow! That is powerful. As we read the Bible, we approach God and we must do so slowly and cautiously, or we die. Think about that as you think about God dwelling within you.
Now, let’s back up and think about that with Ephesians. Ephesians is a very powerful letter, as all of the Word of God must be. Ephesians is all about our great and awesome salvation “in Christ.” Remember, a few weeks ago I told you that the phrase “in Christ” is used 27 times in this short book? All of our Christian life is about Christ. We are “in Christ.” Christ is in us. Now, we are all separate, but we are brought together in unity “in Christ.” We have spiritual gifts, so what are our motivations in Spiritual Gifts?
My theme today: Our motivation behind our spiritual gifts is love.
My application today: reflect 1 Corinthians 13 on your own life.
- Our motivation for spiritual gifts is to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.
- Look with me at Ephesians 4:1-6 and notice unity.
- Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There isone body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
- I know we talked about this once.
- Notice verse 4 (Eph. 4:4): we are one body and we have one Spirit.
- The same Holy Spirit fills us with gifts.
- Now, if we have the same Holy Spirit that means that the gifts are not given for us individually, but for the church as whole.
- We are going to get into verses 11 and following in a few weeks but look at Eph. 4:11-12: And He gave some asapostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
- for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…
- The gifts are for the equipping of the saints and building up of the church.
- We have one body and this is talking about the church.
- We have one hope of our calling.
- So, we have talked about walking in a manner worthy of our calling. We do this with unity, we do this with humility, gentleness, patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.
- Love undergirds all things.
- Our motivation for spiritual gifts is love which leads us to unity.
- See 1 Cor. 13: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift ofprophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Cor. 13 is the motivation of spiritual gifts.
- I know I am jumping a little bit, but we have to in order to talk about spiritual gifts. We see spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4 and a few other places in the New Testament. However, I think 1 Corinthians writes more about these gifts.
- You see, the church at Corinth was divided. We see people saying, “I follow Paul.” Or, “I follow Apollos.” (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4) They had sin issues in the church at Corinth. So, we come to 1 Corinthians 11 and they even had issues with communion. In communion they would have a dinner first and the rich people who did not have to work as hard would arrive first and stuff themselves and there would be no food left for the poor. Then the rich were even getting drunk at their communion feast! (1 Corinthians 11:17-22, especially vs 21)
- So, Paul reminds them of the institution of communion. Then in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about spiritual gifts.
- In 1 Corinthians 12 we have the Theology of Spiritual Gifts.
- In 1 Corinthians 13 we have the motivation of Spiritual Gifts.
- In 1 Corinthians 14 we have the practice of Spiritual Gifts.
- Paul’s thesis is in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
- But looking back at 1 Corinthians chapter 13, what is the motivation? Love. Love is the motivation.
- Our motivation behind spiritual gifts is not about attracting people to ourselves, but to God. Our motivation behind the spiritual gifts is not about puffing up ourselves, but helping each other.
- The greatest commandment: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:27-40)
- Our motivation is love.
Let’s commit to analyze 1 Corinthians 13 in our own life.
How many times do we do things with selfish motives?
How many times can we not even err on the side of grace?
How many times can we NOT apologize?
Meet with people this week and apologize for things you have said or done that were hurtful. Listen, you do not have to apologize for what you said, but how you said it. You see what I mean, sometimes we can say the right thing the wrong way. I have done it before. I can preach the right message, the wrong way.
If you are a husband, or a father, or a grandfather this means that you live 1 Corinthians 13 first. If you are an elder, or a church leader this means that you live by 1 Corinthians 13 first.
Charles R. Swindoll gives us a good illustration in self sacrifice and self sacrifice is a major motivation behind spiritual gifts:
It was a cold, blustery January night in 1973. Senator John Stennis, the venerable hawkish Democrat from Mississippi, drove from Capitol Hill to his northwest Washington home. Although older (71), he was still the powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. At precisely 7:40 p.m., Stennis parked his car and started toward his house 50 feet away.
Out of the darkness jumped two young robbers—little more than kids, really. One nervously waved a .22 caliber pistol as the other relieved the senator of his personal possessions. “Now we’re going to shoot you anyway,” one told Stennis. He did, firing twice.
For six-and-a-half hours, surgeons at Walter Reed Medical Center labored feverishly to repair the damage and save his life.
At 9:15 that same night another politician was driving home from the Senate . . . a man on the opposite end of the political spectrum, a Republican “dove” who had clashed often and sharply with Stennis. His name? Senator Mark Hatfield. The tragedy was reported over Hatfield’s car radio that wintry night. Disregarding the strong differences in their convictions and pulled by a deep admiration for the elderly statesman plus a compassion for his plight, Hatfield later admitted:
“I had no skills to offer. But I knew there was something I must do—and that was to go to that hospital and be nearby where I could be helpful, if possible, to the family.”
There was untold confusion at the hospital as fellow senators, colleagues, and curious friends and reporters overwhelmed the hospital’s telephone operators. Understaffed and disorganized, the hospital crew tried their best but were unable to handle the calls and answer the questions.
Hatfield quickly scoped out the situation, spotted an unattended switchboard, sat down, and voluntarily went to work. Much later—after recovering—Stennis related what he heard happened next: “He told the girls, ‘I know how to work one of these; let me help you out.’ He continued taking calls until daylight.” An exceedingly significant detail is that he never gave anyone his name because someone would surely suspect some political connection, some ulterior motive. Hatfield finally stood up around daylight, stretched, put on his overcoat, and quietly introduced himself to the other operators. “My name is Hatfield . . . happy to help out on behalf of a man I deeply respect,” he said as he walked away.
The press couldn’t handle that story when it leaked out. It boggled their minds! No way did it make sense for a Republican to give a Democrat the time of day, not to mention several long hours of personal assistance in some anonymous, menial task. I mean, that kind of character went out with the horse and buggy and silent movies and saying “ma’am” and “sir” to teachers. Or did it?
Politics and personal preferences and opinions on things like military involvement may vary among members of the body of Christ . . . but there is a bond deep within that binds us to one another. It is the glue of authentic love, expressing itself in compassion, fairness, willingness to support, and (when possible) coming to the aid of another. Personally. Without strings attached. Committed to the protection and dignity of human life . . . regardless of how somebody votes.
And what does it take? Bigness. Being free of grudges, pettiness, vengeance, and prejudice. Seeing another in need—regardless of differences of opinion—and reaching out in solid Christian maturity. Just because you care.
That’s bigness. It’s living above labels . . . it’s seeing beyond hurts . . . it’s caring unconditionally, helping unassumingly.
And therefore it’s rare. As rare as a hawk and a dove in the same nest on a cold winter’s night.
Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)