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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Gifted for Service

Charles Stanley - Gifted for Service

Charles Stanley - Gifted for Service
TOPICS: Spiritual Gifts, Serving Others

One of the greatest tragedies in life is for a person to live their whole life with no purpose, no sense of direction, no goals. They're just floating through life, just sort of managing to live from one day to the next or maybe from one week to the next, maybe from one paycheck to the next, accomplishing nothing, really, except just existing and making enough money maybe to just get by. And I can tell you no matter who you are, that is not the will and the plan of God for your life.

It's very clear in the scripture that He has a plan and a will for everyone's life. And one of the most important things about our relationship to Him and our relationship to each other is the fact that God has given you and me a spiritual gift or gifts. And He's given us talents and abilities and skills. And He's given them to us for a specific reason. But if you don't know that and you don't care and you just want to get by, you'll miss out on life's best.

So I want you to turn, if you will, to First Peter, chapter four, and look, if you will, beginning at this tenth verse, which is very important. And Peter's just been talking about things that are going to happen and so forth. And so he comes down to the tenth verse of First Peter four and he says, and every word is important in the Word of God. He says, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever".

Now, let's distinguish between something. God has given to every one of us one or more gifts, so let's define, what is a spiritual gift? And I'll have these on the screen here. A spiritual gift is what? A divinely given endowment that enables us or equips us to serve Him effectively and successfully. That is, God has placed within you as one of His children, He has endowed you with a very special gift. That is, He's endowed you with the enabling power to work in your life to fulfill His purpose, whatever that might be, and to do so effectively and successfully. And so, if you're a believer, you have one of these special gifts.

And so let's look for just a moment at how the scripture divides them up, Let's start with Ephesians chapter four. And Paul in Ephesians chapter four talks about ministry gifts. And if you'll notice, if you will, in verse eleven of Ephesians four, He says, "And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers". And you'll notice, he puts pastors and teachers together because a pastor ought to be teaching the flock. So, these are ministry gifts. And notice what he says, He gives these gifts, "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ".

That is my responsibility in this fellowship, to build you up by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. That is, in order to work out God's will and purpose and plan in your life, to build up the whole fellowship. So, I want you to turn, if you will, to First Corinthians for a moment. And let's look at the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. And here are some personal gifts that God gives. And if you'll notice what Paul says, beginning in the first verse, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant," and then he moves on down and he says in verse four, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but," watch this, "but the same Spirit".

It is the Holy Spirit that gives the gift. You don't get a gift from this person, that person, the other person. Spiritual gifts are a gift from God through the Holy Spirit. "There are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects," as a result of working these gifts, "but the same God who works all things in all persons". But now watch the seventh verse, "But to each one is given the manifestation," or the expression of that "Spirit for the common good". That is, whatever your spiritual gift is, God didn't give it to you just for you. He gave it to you for the common good, that is, for the church, for the whole body of Christ.

Then if you'll go to Romans chapter twelve, and here is another set of gifts. The first one were ministry gifts, secondly, personal gifts that God gives, but always for the purpose of the work of the church. And then, beginning in the twelfth chapter, beginning, if you will, in verse four of Romans, "For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function," they don't all do the same thing, but many different members. We got choir members, orchestra members, teachers, and prayers and so forth, "So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another".

Now, listen to what he says, "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; If service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness".

So here are seven different gifts. Now, listen carefully. These are motivational gifts. That is, these gifts are given to you for a specific purpose, that which God wants to use you. A motivational gift is a gift that expresses itself within you that motivates you. That is, there's something about that. For example, a nurse with a gift of mercy would be highly motivated in that area, or probably wouldn't become a nurse. A teacher who has the gift of teaching is motivated to teach. A person with the gift of exhortation, which is mine, I'm motivated every Sunday to do what we do. And you could just go down the list of each one of them.

So, these are the gifts that God has given to everyone, and the scripture says it very clear here in First Corinthians, where we were reading. He says, for example, that they are given for the common good, which means they don't... He doesn't give us spiritual gifts for our sake, but He gives them for the common good. And so, "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit," that is how the Spirit operates, "for the common good". And that means, for example, in a church like this, all this whole body right here in this particular group, we have all these gifts. And so each one of us is to exercise our gift in behalf of somebody else, for someone else. And you see somebody headed for trouble and you're an exhorter, you want to stop them, if at all possible. You hear someone suffering, you want to step in when they're suffering. If you see somebody who's making a mistake and it's because they don't know how, you want to teach them how.

And so, I could give you a lot of illustrations, but let me give you one simple one that I've given before because it's so simple. You have invited seven people to your house. You're having a wonderful dinner. Your best spread's on the table. Everybody has a glass of iced tea and a plate and spoon, knife, and fork and so forth. And you haven't been sitting there very long, and somebody, let's just say that it's my house and I knock over my glass of tea. Now, how would each person respond? Mercy would say, "Oh! My goodness"! And a person with a gift of giving would say, "Oh, we can buy another glass. You don't worry about that". And the person with exhortation would say, "Well, next time, maybe you should... if you put your glass on this side, it'd be okay". The person with the gift of organization said, "You go get the mop, I'll get this, and we'll take care of all this".

You can take each one of them and they'll respond a certain way, you know why? Because God made us to be a part of the whole. And if you are giving of yourself to other people, motivated on your gift, you're going to be happier. You're going to be more successful with what you do no matter what that is. And I think when people feel that their life is meaningless, they're going to make it meaningful, even if it means to do something wrong to get recognition. So, he says God has given us all of these, that is for the good of everyone, not just for the good of one person. So, when I think about the purpose for which they've been given, especially, notice he says, "Employ it," put it to work, "in serving one another".

So whatever your gift is, God didn't give it to you for you. He gave it to you to use you in some way for somebody else. We have all been in situations where each one of those we need. Then been in situations where somebody needed to give you something or encourage you, or direct you, instruct you, for example. Or somebody needed to correct you because of something you did wrong. In other words, all the gifts have a part. This is about us giving ourselves away to each other. What can I do to help the other person? Because people who are always looking out for themselves, they're not happy. They're not at peace. You don't even want to be around them, because it's me, myself, and I, and that's all they're interested in. What will it profit me? What will I get out of this?

And that is not love, for example. And it is not the reason He gave us the gifts. And so I look at Mark chapter ten, verse forty-five, and listen to what Jesus said about Himself. And I would certainly think this ought to be our example. He says in verse forty-five, "For even the Son of Man," and notice how he said it, even I. Jesus said even I, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many". And who was it washing feet at that Last Supper? Jesus washing feet, because He was demonstrating what service was all about. And so the truth is you have a very definite spiritual gift with your name on it, given to you by Almighty God.

And nobody else can give it to you, and nobody else can take it away from you. The only thing you can do is employ it for the purpose of God or waste it by ignoring it and being selfish and not living it out as God would intend you to do. And so, remember what he said? He says He gives us these gifts for the common good, and we're to serve Him. And he says it, "as good stewards," or excellent stewards, which means this. Whatever little I have, I am to be a good steward of it. If I only have a little bit of money, I'm to be a good steward of it. If I want more and, be honest, if I want more, I work harder. I'm more diligent. I may outwork somebody else or whatever it might be. He says we're to be good stewards. In other words, look, the more truth that you know, the more truth you're responsible for.

And the reason God gives you truth is to make it possible for you to become the full person God wants you to be. What is your potential? You don't know what your potential is. You have no idea what your potential is until you're tested. And once you're tested, for example, what happens? Just like people in the sports field. They never know what they can do till they get in the contest. They break all kind of records. And they think this record, nobody will ever break it. And somebody else comes along and, yes, they do. People are always, in those areas, are striving for the best. They want to be the best.

Let me ask you a question. Because you're a follower of Jesus Christ, ignore what the world thinks of you. You're a follower of Jesus Christ. You and I have a responsibility to do our best. It may not be as good as somebody else, but I have the responsibility to being my best at where I am and whatever I'm doing. There's always somebody who can outdo you, but that's not the issue. The issue: Am I giving it my best? God is not expecting you to be like anybody else, not expecting you to be like anybody else, He's expecting you and equipping you to be your best at what He wants you to do, why He created you and given you the gifts and the endowments of talents that He's given you.

That's all He's expecting. And He says you're living it out for somebody else, for the common good, for the whole body of Christ. So, when I look at all these passages, and I look at Colossians chapter three for a moment, and notice what Paul is saying here, because he's talking about this very idea of doing our best at what we do. And here's what he says in the third chapter. He says, twenty-second verse, "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord".

Now, watch this, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily," thoroughly, completely, enthusiastically, "do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men". He says , "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It's the Lord Christ whom you serve". If we could just get that. It's Jesus whom we are serving. This may be the mediator, whoever that person is and where we work, but it's the Lord whom we serve. But if I do my best at whatever I do, that's what matters.

Now, let's think for just a moment. Why do believers fail to serve Him and weaken the testimony of the church? Why do they do it? So I'm going to give you a list. So I won't have to take too long to discuss these. Number one, they're ignorant of scripture. There are people who have no earthly idea that God requires them to exercise their spiritual gifts and their talents. Secondly, there people who feel inadequate, "Aw, I couldn't do this". Now, watch this, when people say "I can't," they're looking at themselves from their viewpoint, not God's viewpoint, not what God said, but what they think, which makes them inexcusable. Third, they have guilt feelings. "Well, I can't serve the Lord because back yonder in my life I did this, I did that, and so I'm just not worthy". God's grace takes care of the past. Not acceptable.

Then I think, one of the reasons that people don't serve the Lord is a lack of love and caring for other people. They don't love other folks. Some people grew up in a home where they were never taught to love and never saw an example of love, I understand that. But you know, you can get over those things if you want to. You, listen, if you just spend your life excusing yourself for laziness and trifleness and sloppiness and all the rest because, well, my family did this and my... well, you know what, we've all grown up in bad situations about certain things in life. But God's gifted us, He's talented us, He's given us opportunities.

We don't stay where we are. We move on in life. It may not be as fast as you want it to be. But when you're faithful where you are... and I can think of some people that it seems they only have one gift in life, but how faithful, loyal, devoted they are. And God says He's the one who gives them the reward. Then of course, there are people who are selfish with their time. And as we've said before, they say, well, I just don't have time. In other words, you don't have to witness to somebody else. You don't have time to serve. You don't have time to sing in the choir, though you're gifted. You don't have time to play, though you're gifted. You don't have time do this, that, the other, and so forth. You don't have time to visit other people. You don't have time, you don't have any time to do anything for anybody but yourself. That is pure selfishness. Ungodliness.

Now, here's one of the worst things. Comparing yourself with someone else. You know why that's not right? Number one, nobody else is like you. You put everybody's thumbprint, they're all different. I don't understand how you could have seven billion thumbprints, I don't know how all that works. But I can say this, God knows you by name. And when you think about it, it's not right to compare yourself with somebody else. For example, as a nurse, you're a nurse, and you think, "Well, you know, I just don't have the stamina so and so has". Or maybe you're a secretary, and you're not the best in the world with a computer.

Don't compare yourself with somebody else. Here's what you do: "God, I want to thank you for the gifts and talents and skills you've given me, and God, by the Holy Spirit, I'm going to improve. I'm not going to stay where I am. I'm going to improve. I'm not just waiting for somebody else to just give me a break. I'm going to improve by the power of the Spirit of God". And do you think God'll help you? Absolutely. He promises to do so. You don't know what your potential is, and as long as you blame somebody else, and there's something about the past where you'll never make it. That, listen, everybody, in fact, if you go through the list of history of people who have done amazing things in life, they came from crazy paths. You'd think they'd never amount to anything in life.

But you know what? They didn't stay where they were. They didn't look around and say, "I'll never amount to anything". They decided I'm going to give it my best. I may not get there, but I give it my best. And when people get over that, then God'll begin to work in their life. Then of course, one of the primary reasons that people don't really serve God is they're living in sin. You live in sin, you don't have any big desire to serve God. You don't have a big desire to help other people. You're just trying to satisfy yourself, and when I think of anything that breaks my heart is when I see people waste talent, skills, time, gifts, because of this, because of that, because the other when God saved them, sent the Holy Spirit, living on the inside of them, and it's like He had to go to sleep.

You never know your potential until you put yourself in the hands of God and say "Lord, I'm going to do it your way". And my desire for you is that you look at yourself and say, "God, here's who I am today. What do You want to do in my life? Where do You want me to go? I refuse to accept the excuse that I can't, and they won't. The important thing is, God, what do You want? And now that I know I have a spiritual gift and I have talents and I have the Holy Spirit in me, God, I'm going to give it my best beginning today. I'm listening for direction. I'm going to trust You and I'm going to obey you".

Today could be a life-changing day in your life. It's a choice you make. If you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, It's not going to work. You know why? The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life. And my prayer is that you would ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins based on the fact that He went to the cross and died on the cross and His blood paid your sin debt in full so that you don't have to pay it. He forgives you of your sin, writes your name in the Lamb's Book of Life and seals you forever as a child of God.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, you've just heard the truth. And I pray in Jesus's name that you'd be willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins, tell Him you've messed up your life. You've depended on other things. You've lived it the way you want to live it. You've never given Him any real thought in your life about how you should live. You thought you were doing well. You're not doing well without Jesus. You're going to reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. You cannot change it. My prayer for you is that you be wise enough to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Father, how grateful we are for Your love for us. How many times do we have to ask You to forgive us for not living up to what we know is the best we could do. Please, Lord, do not allow us to be satisfied with anything less than holy living and holy giving of ourselves to You, to be used by You any way, every way You possibly can. I pray that You'll seal this message in the heart of every single believer. Do not let it escape them, Father. And I pray for somebody here who is unsaved. They're already wasting time. Help them to see, the first step is to be saved, the second step is to surrender themselves to you and be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the third step is to say, "Yes, Lord. Here am I. Use me, send me, I'm available". And that's our prayer this morning, In Jesus's name, amen.

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