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January 31

Ephesians 4:1-16

1 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Different Gifts to Build Up the Church: Stewarding God’s Calling and Gifting in Your Life

by Michele Dyer

Did you know that you have a ministry calling? While you may not be called to full-time vocational ministry, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1 that as believers in Christ we have each received an invitation from God to participate in ministry in His Kingdom. 
 
Furthermore, we learn in this passage that we have each been given specific gifts to carry out this calling. Paul compels us to understand the importance of stewarding these gifts well to promote unity in the church and to mature in Christian behavior. 
 
The church is a living and growing organism. In his letters to the various churches in the ancient world, Paul often likens the church to a human body with its many parts and functions, yet he acknowledges that it is still a singular entity. 
 
The particular message to the church in Ephesians 4 has profound implications for the body of Christ. Here, we not only learn that each of us has a specific calling to ministry, but we also learn that God provides the right people with the right gifts at the right time to accomplish His purposes through the church.
 
So, how important is it that you use and steward the gifts that God has given you? Well, if we carry out the analogy of the church functioning as a human body, we see that one part is very dependent on the others, making it very important for each part to carry out its own function. 
 
Recently, a friend of mine experienced an ocular migraine, causing her vision to work improperly. Because her eyes were not functioning as they should, she also experienced an increase in blood pressure and became very dizzy and nauseous. One body part malfunctioning or not functioning can really throw things off!
 
Or imagine that your nose and sense of smell just quit working. You’d not only lose the ability to enjoy pleasant fragrances, but you would lose the first alert to a dangerous house fire, or a nearby skunk! 
 
It is crucial that we each be in touch with our individual calling and gifts, so that the church body as a whole functions properly and productively. 
 
How then do we make sure we are truly being good stewards of our own calling and gifts and doing our part? I believe the single most important practice we can employ as we evaluate our effectiveness is prayer. We need daily communication with God, where we intentionally ask how the Giver wants us to use the gift. 
 
We also need to spend time reflecting on the ways God has worked through us to use these gifts in the past. Doing so can help us better recognize those opportunities for Kingdom service when they arise in the future.

Praxis

  1. Knowing that God intentionally pairs people with churches to accomplish His purposes, spend a few moments talking with God about the purpose and function He has for you in your church body. Ask Him to begin to reveal how He’d like you to use your gifts to serve others in and beyond the walls of your church.
  2. Schedule coffee or lunch with a close friend with the express purpose of discussing the gifts and ministry calling God has given each of you. Answer the following questions:
    1. How have I seen God work through me in the past to make an impact for the Kingdom?
    2. What do I believe God is calling me to do specifically as part of the body of Christ?
    3. What gifts have you, my close friend, observed in me?
  3. Write a Personal Mission Statement regarding your ministry calling, and incorporate how you will use your gifts. Contact Michele Dyer at Brentwood Baptist Church if you’d like help in writing your Mission Statement or in exploring your own ministry calling.