Monday, August 6, 2012

Grace, Love and the Spiritual Gifts

The Apostle Paul to the Romans:
“For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.”
~Romans 1:11 (NRSV)
We are all gifted by the grace of God to extend God’s grace by the giving of gifts—most of all, ourselves. When we give of ourselves, we give specially of love.
Our spiritual gifts—those passions manifest in service—are for God’s consummate delight. And when we give ourselves in service to another we experience the fundament of blessing. God’s delight becomes our delight because someone else is delighted. Gifts and delight are hence synonymous with worship. And when we worship henceforth we hold high the Object of our worship as worthy. To give our gifts as an act of ministry is also an act of worship. As we give we give to the Lord.
As we extend our gifts we reach forth into others’ lives and make differences only we can make. And our gifts speak of something more important than the gift itself—love.
Gifts and Their Underpinning – Love
Our gifts are compelled forth by arms and legs, and words and breath, moved by love.
It is for others’ joy and encouragement that we serve. And as we see the outworking of our service, as it makes differences in others’ lives, we come to be convinced of our impact for love and the use God is making of us in his ministry.
Then there is the actual manifestation of the gifts—of many different kinds—of more varieties than can be named, pigeonholed, or categorised. Because there are so many needs and so many ways of discerning and serving those needs, there are many more gifts than we can find clever names and categories for.
But one thing underpins each gift and each flavour of giving—love.
For Paul, his heart overflowed in thankfulness at the joy he received from God at the thought of building up his fellow Romans. And his joy was redoubled, in fact, at the thought that their faith might prove to be a blessing to him, personally, through the expression of their gifts to him (see Romans 1:12).
Paul knew that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Paul knew that to truly be Christian we need to experience the giving of love.
So we are to outdo each other in our giving, but not by proud means, where we might refuse to receive another’s gifts of love. We are to receive, with genuine thankfulness, and then look for ways of loving other people with the love we have received. We pass it forward by modes of love that come natural to us—through our spiritual gifts.
By our spiritual gifts we give to others by the grace of God to induce joy in them. And others, by their gifts, love us likewise to the amounting of thankfulness within our hearts. And so the Christian world revolves; each building the other up from everlasting to everlasting—until our King returns.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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