First Corinthians chapter 12. Kind of wrestled in my mind about whether we ought to have a kind of a diversion and talk a little about some things relative to the celebration. Then I thought but the most important thing we could do for our country is to be what we are and to become the kind of ministering Christians that will radiate the body of Christ to the world so that they might see Him and believe, and so the most important thing I can see is that we as Christians understand what it is that God desires of us and so we want to continue studying the area of spiritual gifts that we’ve been studying now for several weeks. First Corinthians 12 is our basic text. Actually we’re going through 1 Corinthians, but we’ve kind of got stuck here, verses 8-10 of chapter 12, because we’ve expanded our thoughts to include all that the New Testament has to say relative to the spiritual enablements or the spirituals, the energizings of the Spirit. We’ve profited by our study, and we’re going to profit again this morning, I think, as you’ll find out, as we look at it further.
To begin with let me remind you of something you know and something we’ve told you many, many times and that is that every Christian is given a marvelous gift the moment he becomes a Christian. Every one of us, the moment we believe, receive the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Trinity, who takes up residence in our life. From the moment you believed, the Spirit of God came to live within you. He becomes your guide, your truth teacher, and your power supply for everything you will do to the glory of God. And since the Spirit of God lives within us and is the guide and is the power supply and is the truth teacher, the New Testament urges us to behave in a certain way relative to the Spirit. For example it says to walk in the Spirit, to live in the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, to pray in the Spirit, to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, to use and exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and on the negative side we are warned not to grieve the Spirit, not to resist the Spirit, and not to quench the Spirit.
Now all of this comes together to show us how vitally important it is that we operate in the area or the sphere of the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is a Spirit-dominated, Spirit-directed, and Spirit-controlled existence. And when we do allow the Spirit of God to reign in our lives, when we do allow the Spirit of God to have control, when we do allow the Spirit of God to give us direction some marvelous results always occur. And I just thought of at least six of them.
The first one is holiness. Under the direction and control of the Spirit of God, a complete domination by the Spirit of God of our life pattern results in a constant sanctification – holiness. A second one is joy. A constant satisfaction occurs when we walk and live in the Spirit. Thirdly there is liberty. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty,” the Bible says. There’s a constant sense of freedom. Another is confidence. A constant security occurs when we walk in the Spirit. And then there is victory, a constant strength against the adversary. And so holiness and joy and liberty and security or confidence and victory all result from walking in the Spirit.
And there’s one other, ministry, a constant service to the body of Christ. So that when we walk in the Spirit, not only are there personal results, personal holiness and joy and confidence and those things I mentioned, but there is another oriented result, which is that we are able to minister to others to build them up in Christ. As I walk in the Spirit, my gift is ministered to you. As you walk in the Spirit, your gifts are ministered to one another. And so as we live in the Spirit, as we move in the Spirit, as we walk in the Spirit, as we’re filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of God operates through us via the spiritual gift we have to minister to other believers. That’s very vital, very important.
People often ask me how is it that you can know your spiritual gift? How is it that you can understand what your gifts are? And I reply, “That isn’t the issue.” It doesn’t really matter, frankly, whether I have defined my gift. In the first place it’s a little bit elusive, and I can’t always pinpoint it. But what is the issue is that I walk in the Spirit. Right? Because if I walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit and am filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of God will minister through me, through my gift, and it’s really not too important whether I understand the definition of that thing. It isn’t an academic issue. It isn’t a matter of going to a seminar and finding out what your gift is. It’s a matter of getting on your knees and asking the Spirit of God to dominate and control your life. And as you yield to Him the Spirit of God operates through you, and He will do what He will do, and that will be your area of ministry.
And so the best way to know your gifted area is not to figure it out and then do it, but to walk in the Spirit and look back and say, “So that’s what I do.” Don’t worry about definitions. I’m not sure that I can exactly define my area of gifts and I’ve been at it for quite a while, but it doesn’t matter to me that I have a definition. It only matters to me that I walk in the Spirit, right, so that he can minister.
Now remember, too, that when you start trying to define your gift, you’re going to run into some problems because there’s so much overlap. I remember on time when I was in high school a lady saw me, and she said, “I’d like to paint your portrait.” And it was kind of flattering, you know. She was a famous artist, a very well-known artist, and she wanted to paint my portrait. I must have been in good light that day because she only finished half of it and gave up. In fact it was only a few months ago I finally threw it away. But I remember going in there and she had a palette on her hand and she was painting me with a palette knife and she had a palette and on it she had some basic colors. She took tubes and squirted out these primary colors. And then she began to mix all these colors. And it was amazing that all these various combinations came out of these primary colors. And she began to put them all over the canvas.
Well that’s exactly how spiritual gifts function. The Holy Spirit has a palette and on that palette are some primary gifts, some primary colors. Those are the ones listed in the scripture, but by the time it gets spread all over you, it’s a mixture. And each one of you becomes a very stylized, individualized, particular, peculiar – in a good sense – portrait. Very unique! So what we’re studying when we study the five speaking gifts and the six serving gifts that make up the permanent edifying gifts are simply primary colors, and leave it to the Holy Spirit to put His brush and mix it and put it on you like it has never been put on anybody else. The combination is unique and that’s why if you’re looking for definitions you’re going to have a little trouble finding them.
Now we saw last time, as we began to look at major point number two – the permanent edifying gifts, already having studied the gifted men – we found that there were two general categories for these gifts. That is illustrated in 1 Peter 4:10 and 11, the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. And last time we looked at the speaking gifts and we said there were five of them. Remember these are primary colors any of which can be in combination with any others, but that they were these: Prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, and exhortation. Those are five primary gifts. Now listen, they are all related so speaking the Word of God, prophecy proclaims God’s Word, knowledge clarifies God’s Word, wisdom applies God’s Word, teaching imparts God’s Word and exhortation demands God’s Word be obeyed. All five of them then have to do with speaking in relationship to God’s revelation.
Now today we’re going to look at the second category of permanent edifying gifts, the serving gifts. You’ll notice on your outline that I’ve listed six of them. We’ll look at three of them this morning and three of them on the next Lord’s Day. The serving gifts are geared for service. The issue there is not proclaiming the Word of God; the issue there is serving someone’s need or needs. And again remember that these six serving gifts are primary colors that get mixed up with all the speaking gifts sometimes and with each other to come out unique in the case of every individual Christian.
Let’s look at the first one. These gifts appear in two passages. They appear in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12:6-8. In those two portions of scripture you have the primary colors of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now number one, notice verse 28 of 1 Corinthians 12, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers” – and those are the gifted people we talked about. “Then after that” – come the gifts, which He gives to the body – “miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, differences of languages.” Now notice the word governments. That introduces us to the gift of leadership. Also Romans 12:8 says listing the gifts, it says in verse 6, “There are gifts differing,” and it says in verse 8, “He that ruleth with diligence.” Let him rule with diligence. So you have ruling in 12:8 of Romans, government in 12:28 of 1 Corinthians.
Now both of those refer to the same thing. The two words are almost synonymous. They have to do with leadership. The word ruling means to lead or to manage or to have charge of, to oversee or to rule. And that is precisely what it’s talking about, leadership. The word government, which basically means the same thing, also has a unique literal meaning. The word literally means to steer a ship. It is the word kubernēsis. I say that word because I want you to remember it because it’s like an English word. Kubernēsis means to steer a ship. It is the skill of piloting a ship. It is a reference to the one who has a hold of the helm, who charts the course, who knows the destination, and who is able to keep the ship on course. Leadership is the ability to see an objective, formalize that objective, mobilize a group of people, and get them to that objective. That’s leadership. It’s not the ability to push paper around a desk, necessarily. It’s not the person who has the most pencils who has the gift of leadership. It’s not necessarily sitting in a seat of responsibility administratively, because that can also be the gift of serving and the gift of helps. But what it is, is the ability to make decision and to determine direction, to mobilize people to reach an objective. That is the gift of leadership.
It is the one who pilots a ship, like the pastor who is responsible. He doesn’t own the ship; he simply pilots it. Christ says to the pastor, “Here’s the goal, here’s the people, mobilize them, and get them there.” That’s leadership. It is used in Revelation 18:17 where you have the account of the fall of the world system of economy in the tribulation, and it says, “In one hour so great riches are come to nothing. And every shipmaster and all the company in ships and sailors, as many as trade by sea, stood afar off and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning saying, ‘What city is like unto this great city?’” The destruction of the Babylonian economic system of the tribulation relative to the people involved in the ship trade. The word shipmaster is kubernēsis. The very same word translated governments here in 1 Corinthians 12:28, somebody who pilots the ship, somebody who has responsibility for leadership.
You remember in Acts 27 when the apostle was on his journey to Rome, and they got on that ship, and they had all that trouble and the storm and everything? The word in 27:11 of Acts used for the pilot of the ship, the very same word, somebody who charts the course and takes the people to the goal, somebody who mobilizes and moves people. Now why I told you the word kubernēsis is interesting is because we get an English word from it. From kubernēsis comes the English word cybernetics. Some of you may have seen the book Psycho-cybernetics. Some of you have not seen the book Psycho-cybernetics. I can tell by the blank look. It’s not that critical a book, but cybernetics is a science, the science of studying the brain relative to its governing of the body. It is the science of studying the brain relative to its governing of the body. So cybernetics is still talking about ruling. It’s still talking about piloting the ship. It’s talking about how the brain makes the body respond. It is the ability to lead and I would add the word kubernēsis is used in the Old Testament four times in the Greek Old Testament. There’s a Greek translation of the Old Testament and as we look at it we find four places where the word kubernēsis is used and that help us because we find that it is used in connection with wisdom.
Let me give you an illustration of that. In fact in Proverbs 12:5 it’s even translated counsels. It was so closely connected to wisdom, it assumes a leader has wisdom, practical ability to reach a goal. But look at Ezekiel 27 and I’ll show you an interesting comparison of the use of the word kubernēsis in the Greek Old Testament, which was a translation of the original Hebrew. But it says in verse 8, Ezekiel 27:8 – if you’re not there, don’t worry about it – “The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners.” This is talking about the destruction of Tyre. “Thy wise men, O Tyre that were in thee were thy pilots.” And the word pilots there is kubernēsis. And notice he says the pilots were your wise men. The same thing occurs again in 27 and 28 of that chapter. So piloting the ship was connected with wisdom, and as we learned in our study of the word of wisdom, wisdom is the ability to solve a problem. Wisdom is practical application of principle to life.
Now watch this. There is a difference then between somebody who has wisdom in leadership and somebody who has a word of wisdom. The word of wisdom is speaking out the practical truths of the Word of God, but leadership includes a wisdom which is an enablement for someone to wisely approach and reach an objective. One is a verbalized speaking gift relative to proclaiming the Word. The other is a non-verbalized directive by which some person reaches an end. And I just want you to make that distinction in your mind so you don’t necessarily say and people think that just because you’re a leader you have the word of wisdom. No. There are many people with leadership wisdom who do not have that verbal proclaiming wisdom that is given by God in other cases. Now that’s just a fine point.
Now some within the body of Christ have the ability of leadership. Now this is critical. They know how to form objectives; they know how to form directives to get there; they know how to mobilize people and get them there. And that enablement is tremendous. If you wanted two words to define the gift of leadership they would be direction and decision making. And usually a true leader is most useful like the true shipmaster in the storm, and you can tell the people who have the gifts in this area because when the going gets rough, they hand on till everybody gets where they are supposed to go, the ability to direct the ship in its course during the storm.
Now some people have thought that the gift of leadership is one which is synonymous with the pastors, elders, and bishops, all be synonymous terms. That it simply here isn’t referring to the general population of the church, that it only belongs to the people that are the pastors. Well I would say that pastors normally would have this gift. It would be a little hard, as it says in 1 Timothy to rule the church if you didn’t have the ability to lead. And it says in 1 Timothy 5:17, “The elders that rule well.” Elders rule, pastors rule, and so forth in the church, would assume that God would give them the gift of leadership. That is true, I don’t doubt that. In fact, it says in Hebrews chapter 13 verses 7, 17, 24, that there are people who lead the church, the elders who have the oversight. And so we believe that for the pastoral staff of a church, for the elders that lead the church, there is the gift of leadership. But does it end there? Some would have us believe it does. I say it doesn’t. There are many ways in which the gift of leadership can be used from out of the laity. The church is far too complex to function with everybody just serving and nobody leading at all levels.
You know there are some churches where the philosophy is worked out – whether it’s taught or not, I don’t know – where one man rules the whole thing. We call them monolithic monsters. One man just rules and that is it. There are organizations like that. One man rules. But even in situations like that, there have to be other people who are able to implement certain things. And I’m convinced that the gift of leadership can come out of the laity.
There are many illustrations of biblical leaders. Nehemiah is a good one, but Nehemiah was a leader on the highest level. But another one that you might note with me that came right up out of the grassroots is in Exodus 18, and I want to introduce you to the first management consultant in history. His name was Jethro and he was the father-in-law of Moses. Now Moses was a charismatic leader. By that I mean he had the clout. I mean he must have been something. When Moses stepped on the scene everybody’s eyes turned. Moses was it and everybody wanted to talk to Moses and tell their problems to Moses and have answers from Moses and hear Moses talk. It’s easy for a leader like that to get the feeling that he’s indispensable. And I know the feeling. Who else can do it like I can do it, you know? And Moses was at that point. So this is how he was operating. He had this mass of humanity that he was carting out of Egypt. Some estimate two million people, and he was still the only guy giving out all the information. Imagine!
Well look what happens – verse 13. Jethro, who, if he was in the New Testament time, we would say he probably had the gift of leadership. That is he saw an objective and he figured out a plan to mobilize the people to get there. And he also had the knowledge that you had to have other leaders. But look at verse 13, “It came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people.” In other words he was just there available. You didn’t make appointments to see Moses. You didn’t call Moses’ secretary and say, “I’d like an appointment with Moses. I got a problem.” You didn’t do that. You got in line, because Moses had to sit out all – entire day, from dawn to sunset because there was so many problems. So he sat there to give everybody their answer, “And the people stood by Moses from the morning to the evening.” Imagine the lines with these decisions that he made. “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning to evening?’” Why are you the only guy sitting there on that seat with people lined up clear into the horizon day after day after day with all their problems?
And they didn’t have any government yet. They didn’t have any hierarchy, had no structure, nothing, one may. “And Moses said to his father-in-law,” this is a typical answer of an indispensable leader, ‘Because the people come unto me to inquire of God.’” Where else are they going to go? “When they have a matter they come to me, and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statues of God and His laws.” I’m doing right. I’m telling them what God says and they got to know that. It never entered his mind there might be somebody else who could also do that. But in Moses’ mind, why what do you mean what am I doing? Isn’t it obvious? I’m telling them what God wants them to know. He never thought in terms of what Jethro was driving at.
Verse 17, “And Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that thou doest is not good.’” It isn’t good, Moses. Why? “Thou will surely wear away.” Moses, you’re going to kill yourself. You can’t handle it. No one was intended to do this, to sit and give answers to all of the two million people. It’s ridiculous. Not only that, “This people that are with you will too.” They’re not going to stand in line the rest of their lives. “This thing is too heavy for you. Thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.” He didn’t say he’s not able. He said he’s not able to do it alone. “Hearken now to my voice.” Now I’m going to tell you something. “I will give you counsel and God shall be with you.” I’m giving you counsel that comes from God. “Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God.” Don’t remove yourself from the place God has given you as a leader. Here are the people and here are you and here’s God. You take their causes to God. You be their interceding leader. You be the guy who carries the burdens and the cares and the woes and the anxieties to God. Don’t change that position. You remain between the people and God. And that’s just basic.
Now verse 20, “And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws.” You also can be their teacher. “And shalt throw them the way wherein they must walk.” You be their example, “And the work that they must do.” You be their leader, you be their teacher, you be their example, but don’t try to solve all their problems personally. I never heard a better definition of a pastor in my life. Can’t do it alone. You can be their leader and their teacher and their example, but you can never solve everybody’s problem individually. So, he has a simple plan.
Verse 21, “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness,” you don’t want to get judges who are going to get bribes, “And place such over them to be rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds and rulers of fifties and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons. It shall be that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, every small matter they shall judge, so shall it be easier for thyself and they shall bear the burden with thee.” In other words why don’t you get some other leaders?
Listen, it’s always been God’s plan that out of the laity would come other leaders. Some would be leaders of thousands, some would be leaders of tens, it divides clear down to that. Some of you have responsibility with a group of people, maybe it’s a Bible study to coordinate an objective and mobilize them and get them to that goal. That’s leadership. There’s all possible manifestations of it, all possible energizings of it. It’s got to go beyond just the pastor/teacher, just an evangelist, just and apostle or prophet; it’s got to go all as far as the body of Christ extends. And then he closes by saying, “If you’ll do this,” verse 23, “And God command you so, then you shall be able to endure.” You’ll live longer and all these people can get out of line and go home in peace.
Now that’s a simple thing. Here’s a man, Jethro, who saw a need and was able to organize a way to get at it and they did that. They did that. There were leaders in the people that needed to be seen, recognized, and drawn out. The same thing the apostles did, choose out from among you – right – leaders, people who can steer the ship.
Now in Romans 12:8 it gives us another aspect of this leadership gift. It says to rule with diligence. I think it’s interesting that the word diligence basically means speed, speed or haste. What is a good leader? Somebody who spots a need and acts quickly – spots a need and acts quickly. If you’ve got the leadership, use it now. You see a need, meet it now. Boy I’ll tell you, one of the things that I believe and try to teach other people is never ever, ever let a problem or a need go on any longer that it already has. Solve it now, not tomorrow, now. That’s a hard lesson to learn, because we all tend to procrastinate. One of the greatest disciplines I’ve ever had in my life was forcing myself to deal with issues the moment I became aware of them. This is because the Bible says, “If you lead do it hastily, do it speedily.” When you see the need meet the need.
And so we have this marvelous gift of leadership without which the body can’t function. Now in 1 Corinthians – turn to 1 Corinthians. The Corinthians some of them had the gift but they weren’t using it. You know why? Because it wasn’t showy. It wasn’t ecstatic enough. They were so busy falling all over each other in frenzies and so busy jabbering in ecstatic languages they couldn’t bother to lead. And that’s why in verse 33 of 1 Corinthians 14 he says, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” And in verse 40 he says, “Let all things be done” – what? – “decently and in order.” Get that thing organized. Instead of everybody coming together doing what’s spectacular, somebody sit down and organize that thing. Get some objectives and some directives and make some decisions and mobilize some people to fulfill the will of God.
Now this is a great, great need. And I don’t think this gift is necessarily the ability to sit at a desk and do paperwork. That may be the gift of service or helps. I think it’s the ability to see an objective, mobilize a group of people to reach that objective, decision-making and God knows how we need these kind of people. If you have this ability, use it with haste, with speed because leaders are desperately needed and things need to be resolved. So God has given to His church leaders. Thank God through the history of the church for the leaders. It’s not an easy responsibility because you have people that react negatively to what you do, to what you say. It’s tough sometimes. You can stand all alone and make a decision. Sometimes you alienate people and you have hard feelings. Don’t try to be a leader unless God’s gifted you in that area, but if he has, have the confidence of the enabling of the Spirit of God. And remember this, all gifts operate in the atmosphere of what love – chapter 13.
Now from that gift we go to a second gift, the serving gift. The second gift is serving. The second one of the serving gifts is serving. All gifts are service according to 1 Corinthians 12:5, but out of these gifts one is a very specialized kind of service. Notice again 1 Corinthians 12:28 and you will see the little word helps. Helps – the gift of helps. In Acts 20:35 that same Greek word is translated support, a supporting gift, a helping gift. In Romans 12:7 it says, “The gift of service or ministry.” Same gift. Supporting by serving. The word helps literally means, and it’s a beautiful thought, to take a burden off of somebody else to place it on yourself. To take a burden off of somebody else to place it on yourself. This is the gift of helping somebody accomplish and it really is the gift that has to come along side leadership. I think that the secretaries who are part of the staff of Grace Church must have the gift of helps. They have the responsibility of implementing all the things that the leadership is doing. Believe me if it wasn’t the Spirit of God energizing them, they’d wind up in a mental institution because of the volume of work.
But the gift of helps is the supporting thing, the thing that makes everything else happen. People who support, who help in any possible conceivable way; and I don’t even want to get into how many ways you can help – any number, any kind you can imagine. I see dear people down here during the week washing windows. They’re helping. I see people fixing doors. I see young people coming down to clean up this or clean up that, sweep out the bus or fix the engine. I see people who come early in the morning to make sure there are enough songbooks between the chairs and little pieces of paper and the cards and envelopes and all that that’s there. I see people who are ministering to missionaries when they come home by assisting them in all the things that they might need – the gift of helps. Helping, supporting, taking a burden off somebody else and putting it on your back.
The apostles, you remember, in Acts 6 said, we can’t wait on tables. We got to teach the word and pray. You get some people who can wait on tables and they called them servers, deacons. Originally the word had to do with waiting on tables, serving other people. Greatest joy, labor of love, serve other people, no glory, no fanfare, no acclaim, just service. Many illustrations 1 Timothy 6:2 says, “And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service.” You can use the gift of helps if you work for a Christian employer by supporting him, by helping him, by fulfilling the thing which you are required to do joyfully. All the gifts should be ministered in love, in joy.
I love Romans 16. Paul here gives a catalog of all the people who’ve helped him and this is what he says – 16:3 – “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus.” What did they do? What did Aquila and Priscilla do for him? Well maybe they made some sandals for him, maybe Priscilla stitched up his torn tunic. Who knows? Maybe they gave him a bed, maybe they gave him some food. I don’t know what they did, but they helped him and they helped him over and over and over again. They were his helpers. And then in verse 9, the same thought, “Greet Urbanus, our helper in Christ.” What did Urbanus do for him? Who knows. Who knows. Maybe he marketed some of those tents he made. I don’t know what he did – help. I think the most needed and therefore, the most common gift the Spirit of God gives is the gift of helps, supporting. We’ve got to have that. We can’t get anything done if we don’t have cooperation. Help. Maybe you can’t preach, can’t teach, you can’t sing, you can’t do all these things. But you can clean; you can take a meal to somebody; or you can fix something for somebody; or you can come down and straighten up chairs or what – I don’t know – whatever. You can mow the neighbor’s lawn, because maybe he’s not feeling too well, and you want to just use your ministry toward him. I don’t know what you can do. You can think as widely and broadly as I.
These people were so dear to the apostle Paul that he repeats things about them. In Philippians 2, he talks about Epaphroditus who was his helper. Companion in labor, he says, fellow soldier who helped, ministered to my need. He says, “He was near death not regarding his life to supply your lack of service.” Epaphroditus served Paul so much that he gambled with his life. He was nearly dead, but he wouldn’t stop serving Paul’s need. That’s the gift of helps. Do you have that gift? Beautiful gift, marvelous gift, absolutely necessary to the progress of the body of Christ.
Doesn’t attract a lot of attention and since it doesn’t nobody in Corinth was doing it. No leaders, no helpers. Who wants to be a helper when you can stand up and speak gibberish and have everybody look at you and think you’re something from outer space. They were all given over to the ecstatic, all given over to the wild and the frenzy because that was glamorous and nobody was helping. And just to put things in perspective, I love the subtlety of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians because when he gives these gifts it’s just really is just great. He says, “Apostles and prophets and teachers.” And boy there’s some sock in those things. “And after that miracles and gifts of healings and helps.” How did that get in there with the biggies? And then, “Leadership,” and then, “Differences of languages.” Right in the midst of all of that grandiose stuff that’s always on display he just interjects helps. What’s the deal? Because he wants them to know that flows with everything else, gift of helps. No public recognition, just loving service. So God has gifted us in the areas of leadership and helps or service.
Lastly for this morning, I want to show you the gift of giving. This is a beautiful thing, the gift of giving. Romans 12:8 is the only place it’s mentioned and I just want you to notice one thought. It says in verse 6, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us” – all right, these are gifts. He’s speaking about gifts. It lists them and in verse 8 it says, “He that giveth let him do it with liberality.” And I want to show you a couple of interesting thoughts about that one statement. The word give here is a compound Greek word. The normal word give – didōmi – just means give. This is metadidōmi, super give. Now I want to show you something. Super giver, all of us are required to give, all of us are called upon by the Spirit of God to give, all of us are to invest. The Bible tells us that we are to sow bountifully in order to – what? – reap bountifully. All of us are to lay by and store the first day of the week as God has prospered him. All of these things are spoken to us very clearly in terms of our giving. But there are some out of us who are to be super givers, who are to be beyond the normal, who are to go that further step because they’re gifted that way. And notice what it said, “With liberality.”
Now the literal root for liberality means simplicity. It can mean liberality and Kittle says it means sacrificial liberality. But it means really simplicity. What does that mean? When you give with simplicity it means you give with one single motive: There’s a need. I give. Most people don’t do that. Most of us all give with two motives: Meet a need and make sure we got enough left for us. Right? That’s normal. You sit down now, how much do we give to the Lord, Ethel? Well how much have we got? Well how much will we have left if we give that. Right? That’s just pretty what gets calculated, see. But the gift of giving is a gift that enables somebody to give with only one single motive – period paragraph. The need – nothing else enters into their mind. Singleness of mind, singleness of heart, undivided motive. Godey says, “According to its etymological meaning, the word signifies the disposition not to turn back on one’s self, and it is obvious that from this first meaning there may follow either that of generosity, when man gives without letting himself be arrested by any self-calculation, or that of simplicity, when he gives without his left hand know what his right hand does, that is to say without any vain going back on himself and without any aim of pride.” That’s right. The gift of giving is to be done with singleness of mind, with no consideration of self at all. The need and you give.
Now the gift of giving is not something that’s public. Giving with pretension and public display is not a gift; it’s hypocrisy. And I don’t even think the gift of giving really relates to how much you have. Some people who don’t have very much have the gift of giving away all they have. Other people who have a lot don’t have the gift. Some who have a lot do. And it isn’t just dropping money in a kitty. All of us invest in the Lord, but it’s that desire to give when a need arises.
It’s illustrated in so many beautiful ways in the New Testament. In John 12, just to quickly point out one thought here, verse 3, “Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the odor of the ointment. One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who should betray Him said, ‘Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’” You know how much three hundred denarii is? A denarius was one-day’s wages for one day’s hard work. She dumped on his feet and wiped on his feet three hundred days work in one act of love. That’s how costly that stuff was. Now that’s the gift of giving. Magnanimous. No bounds. No thought of the absence of that possession once it’s given.
In Acts chapter 2 there are illustrations of the gift of giving. As those in the early church held things in common and when someone had need a person would sell something, property or his home or some possession, and get the money and give it to the person who had need. In 2 Corinthians 8 the Macedonians had the gift of giving, and out of their deep poverty they gave, “according to the riches of their liberality,” Paul says. They didn’t have much but they gave everything they had. The Philippians, some of them also had the gift of giving. In Philippians 4, the end of the chapter there, Paul says, “You’ve given too much. You’ve given way too much.” But that’s how the gift works.
I remember a few years back a group of people got together in our church who all felt that they had the gift of giving and they started a little fellowship called Saltshakers. And people used to get checks in the mail, for all I know they still do, and it would just be a check, $100.00, 200, 300, 50, 75 and it would just be a check with a return address Saltshakers and that’s all. Just some people who wanted to minister their gift to those who had need. That’s the gift of giving, meeting needs, not with any show, not so that anybody would even know about it.
I want to read you an illustration of one man who had this gift. His name was C.T. Studd, famous man. Some of you have read his biography perhaps. But let me remind you of this beautiful story in his biography written by Norman Grubb. This is what it says. I’m going to read it to you. Just listen to this. I might preface it by saying his father was extremely wealthy, and he was to inherit a tremendous amount of money, several hundred thousand dollars. And this was in 1880’s so then it amounted to 29,000 pounds, and even I think went on beyond that. But this is what the biography says.
“So far as he could judge his inheritance was 29,000 pounds, but in order to leave margin for error he decided to start by giving 25,000. One memorable day, January 13, 1887, he sent four checks of 5,000 pounds each and five of 1,000. As coolly and deliberately as a businessman invests in some guild-edged securities as being both safe and yielding good interest, so C.T. invested in the bank of heaven. This was no fool’s plunge on his part. It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God’s word to be the surest thing on earth and that the hundred-fold interest, which God has promised in this life, not to speak of the next, is an actual reality for those who believe it and act on it.
“He sent 5,000 pounds to Mr. Moody, expressing the hope that he would be able to start some gospel work at Terre Haute in North India, where his father had made his fortune. Moody hoped to carry this out, but was unable to and instead used that money to start the famous Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, writing back, ‘I will do the next best thing and open a training school with it from which men and women will go to all parts of the world to evangelize.’ Five thousand pounds he sent to Mr. George Mueller; 4,000 pounds to be used on missionary work, 1,000 among the orphans; 5,000 pounds to George Holland in White Chapel to be used for the Lord among the poor in London, asking for the receipt to be made out in his father’s name because of the spiritual help Mr. Holland had been to his father; 5,000 pounds to Commissioner Booth Tucker for the Salvation Army in India. This 5,000 arrived just after they had a night of prayer for reinforcements vitally needed. It was used to send out a party of 50 new officers. To Mrs. McPherson for her work in London, to Miss Emily Smiley of Dublin, General Booth of the Salvation Army, Reverend Archibald Brown in the East end of London, and Dr. Bernardo Holm he sent 1,000 pounds each.
“In a few months he was able to discover the exact amount of his inheritance. He then gave some further thousands mainly to the China Inland Mission and Hudson Taylor leaving another 3,400 pounds still in his possession. Just before his wedding he presented his bride with that money. She, not to be outdone said, ‘Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?’ ‘Sell all,’ he said. ‘Well then we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding,’ and they wrote the following letter to General Booth, head of the Salvation Army. ‘My dear General, We were so sorry last mail to hear of Mrs. Booth’s serious illness. Our hearts do go out in deep sympathy to you both. I cannot tell you how many times the Lord has blessed me through reading your and Mrs. Booth’s addresses in the War Cry.’” That was a paper published in the early years of the Salvation Army.
“‘We now want to enclose a check for 1,500 pounds. The other 500 has gone to Commissioner Tucker for his wedding present. Besides this I am instructing our bank to sell our last earthly investment of 1,400 and to send you what they realize. Henceforth our bank is in heaven.’ And he says, ‘You see we are rather afraid, notwithstanding the great earthly safety of Misusers Coots and Company in the bank of England. We are, I say, rather afraid that they may both break on the Judgment Day. And this step has been taken not without most definite reference to God’s word and the command of the Lord Jesus who said, “Sell that you have and give alms, make for yourselves purses, which wax not old.” We have felt the Spirit’s drawings to this course and asking for a very long time. And to should we give it?
‘Moreover we felt that in this way we shall reach the people as being the Lord Jesus’ way of coming to preach salvation. Hallelujah. We can also thank God by His grace that we have not done this by constraint but cheerfully and have a ready mind and a willing heart. Praise the Lord. Amen.’” Just loved doing it. That’s how gifts are ministered. “And we thank God too that now He says we are in the proud position to say silver and gold have I none. We don’t want to be like Ananias and Sapphira. We tell you honestly we do have a small amount out here. I myself at present don’t know how much it is. Now this does not come from me, for I was told that the Bible says, ‘He that provides not for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.’ So I took the whole pot and gave it to my little wife to provide for the household and so now it is she who sends it to you regarding heaven as the safest bank and moreover thinking it is so handy you have no trouble about checks or rates of exchange. You just ask and receive that your joy may be full.
“Now goodbye, dear General. May the Lord keep you in this war for many years and dear Mrs. Booth too. Our united heart-felt prayer is God bless you both and all yours in your inner and smaller and outer and larger families. There are only one thing remains in our mind and that is when thou doest thine alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth that thine alms may be in secret. So, therefore, in case that friend of yours, the War Cry” – that magazine – “should lay a hold this document and hold it up to the public gaze, we beg to sign ourselves your loving, we know and getting humble we trust, would be soldiers of Jesus Christ, my wife and me.” General Booth never knew who sent him the money. That’s the gift of giving. And when they had given it all away he packed up his little wife and they went to Africa as missionaries for the rest of their days.
That’s the gift of giving. That’s how God ministers. Think about what came out of that one man’s gift: China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor; George Mueller’s orphanages in London; Salvation Army Extension; Moody Bible Institute. That’s how the Spirit of God operates. Do you see yourself in any of those three gifts: Leadership, service, giving? If you do be obedient, will you, because there’s tremendous joy there. And all those results we talked about at the beginning can be yours. Let’s pray.
Lord, it’s exciting, to say the least, to refresh our hearts in the testimony of this your servant who gave away everything. It’s exciting to reflect upon the dear people that helped the apostle Paul. It’s a joy to look at somebody like Jethro or Nehemiah or somebody else with the ability to lead that was used by You to support the men of God. We thank You for teaching us again how You’ve enabled us. Help us to be faithful, and as the Spirit of God mixes the colors on the palette and spreads them out in our life, may we be obedient. And may we walk in the Spirit, yielded to the Spirit, in order that we might be ministering in the Spirit to the building of the body for the glory of —
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