Tuesday, 6 September 2016
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:7
There is unfortunately an article in the original Greek which is not included in this translation. It says, “But to each one of us the grace was given…” It is a specific grace, not a general one, which Paul refers to. This then is not speaking of things like salvation, eternal life, and so on. Rather, it is speaking of the grace which is bestowed upon a person for conducting their services for the Lord.
An example of this would be Bezalel, the main artificer of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Of him, the Bible reads –
“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, 5 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.” Exodus 31:3-5
Bezalel was given the grace to accomplish particular tasks which needed to be accomplished in the construction of the tabernacle. In Christ, we are given the same. The Lord is building His temple and each of us is given such grace “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
He is the Lord, it is His temple which is being built, and He is the one to apportion out what is necessary in order to accomplish this marvelous task. This grace is most certainly a part of our makeup as individuals. There is no reason to assume that this is some type of grace which is instilled in us after salvation. Rather, we are each given abilities from the eternal mind of God based on our genetic makeup, our place in time and location, the education we have received, and so on.
It is certainly more sensational to claim that we have been endowed with a special gift of the Spirit after salvation, but this has to be read into the grace we have been given as much as assuming that it is based on who we are as individuals. In fact, in the calling of Jeremiah, his particular office was one which was ordained before his birth –
“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4, 5
The Lord knew Jeremiah from His eternal mind, and He selected him from that state. Each person in the church is no different. Some are orators, some are business people who can give, some are janitors. Christ has determined the gift. And as it is a gift, it is unmerited. No person should think more highly of himself than he ought. Whatever we have is what we have received from God.
And so we should rather mourn over not using our gifts to the fullest. The janitor who works out his duties to the highest degree possible is doing a better job than the pastor who whips out a cheesy sermon that took no effort to write, which will merely tickle the people’s ears, and which provides no insights in the marvel of Scripture which has been given for the building up of God’s people.
Life application: Whatever our gifts are, they should be used for the glory of the Lord and to the fullest measure of our ability. Anything else is to squander the gifts we possess.
Lord God, You have given each of Your people gifts according to Your wisdom. You have done this so that we would in turn use them to build up Your church and to bring glory to You. The person who cleans the church, and who does it to the best of his ability, is using his gift more wisely than the pastor who provides chintzy sermons, shallow Bible studies, and poor counseling for his flock. May we mourn over our failure to do our very best for You with the gifts we possess. And then, may we decide that we will use them to the fullest in the days ahead. Amen.