Gifted for Service

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-11; Psalm 139:1-12; Romans 12:1-13

It has now been about six months since Moses was able to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. He has received the Commandments at Mount Sinai. Now God comes to speak with him for the sixth time, telling Moses to build for God a tent of meeting, a tabernacle, where God can meet the people in worship.

Moses was learned in the learning of the Egyptians, and he was well acquainted with the words of God to him and the vision of the future that God had revealed to him, but he had no ability in the construction of a tabernacle. These refugees had known how to make mud bricks and how to work in clay, but there were none among them that knew how to work in gold and in the cutting of precious stones. How was Moses to get the tabernacle built with the exactness that is required when the people he is surrounded with are masons and bricklayers?

There will be more than enough people to do the work, but who can oversee the construction?

God takes care of that matter also. God identifies the persons who are to oversee the work. Bezalel from the tribe of Judah was to be the architect in charge. He was, at the time, commissioned with Aaron to guide the people when Moses was not present, when Moses went up on the Mountain. Oholiab, of the tribe of Dan, was chosen by God to partner with Bezalel. Dan was one of the lesser tribes. The choice of Oholiab made it important.

The person whom God calls for service, for ministry, God equips. God qualifies these people for the ministry that is before them. God says, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted, I have put wisdom.” It is recorded in scripture that the same Holy Spirit gave the workers the wisdom about how to work in gold, and silver, and brass; to work in fine linen and animal skins. The Holy Spirit enables them with some practical skills. They will build a place where God can come to meet them that is visually pleasing and a place where incense will be lifted up to God as are their sacrifices and prayers.

The Hebrews have benefited from God’s redemption from slavery. Now they will participate with God in creation, in artistry, in the building by humans of a place for the holy.

Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and a follower of Jesus Christ writes to the Christians living in Rome, and to us of all generations, about God’s parallel teaching to us. Just as Moses first called the Hebrews to be in covenant with God before they began to build the tabernacle, so Paul first reminds us as Christians of what our spiritual responsibility is in this world. Paul says to those Christians who were living in a society that was anything but Christian, “Be who you say you are.”

Having urged and encouraged the readers of his letter about this responsibility, Paul begins to describe the new group they have become, the Church. He needs to talk with them about their spiritual gifts that have been made possible by the Holy Spirit that now resides within each of them, and his teaching in very practical.

Paul begins his teaching by comparing the Body of Christ, the Church, to the human body and its functioning parts. He reminds them that every part of the body has a different function and each one is important and necessary, especially some of the parts that cannot be seen.

Then Paul talks about the spiritual gifts that have been given to each follower of Jesus Christ, and how each one is important for the spiritual health of the Body and its ministry within the world. Let me hasten to say that there are several locations in the scriptures where spiritual gifts are named. At this location Paul talks about just a few of them. He talks about

  • Prophecy (that ability to proclaim and apply God’s truth so that believers may be encouraged and consoled, and non-believers invited to follow Christ)
  • Faith (believing that God will act in spite of evidence to the contrary)
  • Service (Helping others in their ministries so that the ministry is effective – being a person like an Oholiab)
  • Teaching (The ability to explain the scriptures or the Christian life to others in a clear way that helps them in their living
  • Encouragement (The ability to motivate people through encouragement to accomplish those goals that will enrich their lives and honor God)
  • Giving (The ability to give cheerfully and liberally of one’s financial and personal resources)
  • Leadership (The ability, with caring concern, to inspire, motivate, and help a group work together toward specific goal
  • Hospitality (The ability to welcome and graciously serve guests and strangers as well as friends; the ability to make everyone feel welcome)

Two other gifts, that are mentioned in other places, we experience every time that we worship include creativity and music. Both Laurel and Peter can play instruments with great ability anywhere they are, but they have a gift of using their abilities to help us to worship. That’s just an example.

And while we are ministering with the gifts that have been placed into our lives, we are to do it with joy and hope and patience even when it is difficult, and with prayer.

Most of us will have multiple gifts, multiple abilities, that have been given to us for ministry within the life of the Church. Each of these gifts is given by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, just as it was with Bezalel and Oholiab.

And each of us has a God-given responsibility to use what God has given to us.

So, you may say, “I don’t know what my spiritual gifts are.” Sometimes others can see them more clearly in us than we can. Here is a short formula for confirming your giftedness:

  • What you do will give you joy in doing it;
  • What you do will be effective, or become effective with some training;
  • Others can see that what you do is well done.

It has been my experience over many years that there exists within every congregation, every Body of Christ, all of the spiritual gifts, all of the special abilities, necessarto do all of the ministry which that congregation has been called to do.

One more thing, it isn’t a matter of age; it is a matter of being a follower of Jesus Christ, being a part of his Body, the Church. A follower of Jesus is never too young to be gifted; never too old to be gifted. One of the greatest gifts that a child or youth might have is that of caring about their peers and encouraging them when life is tough. One of the greatest gifts that even those who are aged and infirm can have is the gift of intercessory prayer for the needs of others.

I’m just saying, “When it comes time to fill out those stewardship pledge cards about the area of service for the coming year, think about what God has given you as a spiritual gift and decide to use it for the glory of God.

And never, ever, ever, let anyone hear you say, “I’ve done my time; let someone else do it” because when you have really done your time, God will call you home and then you can rest.

Pray diligently, purposefully, about what God would have you to do in ministry in this Body of Christ and from here into the world.