Use whatever gift you have received to serve others – 1 Peter 4:10

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administrating God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Often I have heard my eighty two year old mother talk of the many gifts God blessed her with. She holds up her hands and states, “God gave me gifted hands”. Far from boasting, she merely states the truth. Trained by Russian Jewish tailors shortly after the war, my mother became a tailoress herself–a skill that extended to everything from wedding dresses to reupholstering lounge suites. If it involved sewing and cloth, my mother excelled at it.

However, throughout her life she used this skill, this gift, in the service of others. She made clothes for people, dressed excitable brides, altered countless gents suits, made grand velvet curtains, created cushions for charity, outfitted choirs. More often than not, my mother did so for free. She administered God’s gift  — in service to others. She did so out of love– rather than for selfish gain.

Once at a particular Scottish wedding, my seventeen year old mother met with the Pastor who had hosted Billy Graham’s evangelistic tour of the country. The Pastor commented on the bride’s beautiful dress at which my mother replied, to the delight of her listener,  “God gave me gifted hands”. The Pastor incorporated her response into the wedding speech, commending my mother for her willingness to give God (rather than herself) the glory.

In this passage of 1 Peter, the Apostle clearly states why we are given the gifts we have. They are for serving others. It is that simple. Not for gaining worldly wealth to spend on our own pleasures (James 4:3),nor to be honored by men (Luke 16:15). A true disciple of Christ uses his or her gifts to bless others. Administering God’s grace to others.

Survey the life of Christ; then critically analyze the lives of his immediate followers. Their gifts are not used to collect real estate. Their financial blessings are not spent on holidays whilst people die of starvation. Nor is their gifting used to achieve sporting prowess so that their names may be published in the Coliseum. The New Testament Christian is not living a selfish life. Of course they could have, yet they chose a completely different way — they chose Christ’s way.

Christ and his followers used their God given gifts to help the poor, the destitute, the orphaned, the widowed, the harassed, the helpless, and those trapped in sin. Servants serving.

Blum ( 1981) states one of the longstanding misconceptions in church practice is the idea that only one person is to “minister” or “serve” in the local church. The biblical principle is that all can and should minister or serve in one way or another.

Received gifts?

Survey your life; identify the gifts that God has blessed you with. Ask yourself truthfully: are you using these gifts to serve others? Or are you using them to bless yourself? This was part of the downfall of the early Israelites. As Jerusalem prospered, the poor grew poorer. God’s chosen people did little about it. Ignorance and apathy reined. Eventually, God took the blessing from them. He took their very lives from them. Life itself is a gift.

Do not be caught swallowing the camel whilst giving the gnat. Take the gnat and give the camel. Then you will find your treasure is indeed heavenly bound, your gifts utilized in service not in selfishness.