• The Call to Serve

    Leighton Mossop

    The Spirit-filled Christian is one who sees service to God as a priority in life. God calls us to serve him. In light of this, it is important that we ensure our motivation for serving God is not out of a sense of duty, in a grudging way, “Because I have to” or because we feel we owe it to God and can somehow pay back this impossible debt. Rather, we serve God because we are so grateful for what he has done for us! Our response is an expression of loving gratitude to his great love for us.

    Easier said than done. The fact is, Christians respond in different ways to God’s call upon their lives. Some people remain uninvolved in God’s service for a variety of personal and selfish reasons. Procrastinators sit in this camp. They keep putting off taking those divine opportunities that come their way. They may have good intentions, but sadly these are not followed up with action. Then there are other people who consider themselves, or whom others see, as zealous. They end up doing whatever good works seem appropriate at the time. It produces much busy activity, but most of it can be of questionable value, where fruitfulness is lacking and frustration abounding. Then there are those who recognise, accept and pursue that specific sphere of service that God has called them to. Which response best describes you?

    We want to seek out God’s calling for our lives and immerse ourselves in it with the attitude that what we do in service for him we do with the purpose; to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), to work as unto God (Colossians 3:22-24), and to show love for God and for one another (John 13:34-35). We cannot do this in our own strength. We need help from above!

    God has given us the Holy Spirit for Christian service. The Holy Spirit is our guarantor for salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14) and our empowerer for effective service (Acts 1:8). One of the primary ways this happens is through the giving and receiving of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a divine enablement given freely by God so that we may serve him with effectiveness. There are many different kinds of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:8-12; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). There are also a number of reasons why it is important we use these gifts. Here are some of those reasons.

    The gifts are for the common good of other people (1 Corinthians 12:7). They are not primarily intended for our own personal enjoyment and benefit. The Lord desires to use his gifts through us for the benefit of others; to minister to their needs and to bring glory to himself. The gifts are given for the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). They are the means by which God brings his people to a greater measure of fullness and wholeness. The best place to exercise these gifts is in the life of the church. It is there that believers should be encouraged to seek their gifts and be given opportunity to exercise them. The health of the church is determined in part by the quality of the ministry of service to each other, and where there is health, there is life and growth. The gifts bear witness of Christ to the world (Hebrews 2:1-4). In Jesus’ time, the people were amazed at what he did. But he said that those who have faith in him will do what he has done and even greater things than these (John 14:12). Salvation was announced by the Lord, confirmed by those who believed, and testified by the use of spiritual gifts. Perhaps we are guilty sometimes in separating the use of spiritual gifts from evangelism, but according to the writer of Hebrews, we are to be a witness to the world through the exercising of our spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are a present reality and should be exercised in the proper manner. They should not be limited to church meetings, but should be a dynamic part of Christian ministry to this needy world.

    Well how do you discover your spiritual gift then? It is important first to realise God’s absolute sovereignty in the dispensing and expression of his gifts. He chooses the person and gift as he determines (1 Corinthians 12:11,18,28). The gifts are of the Spirit and therefore under his working and control, not under our own will, plans and ambitions. But here are some general guidelines from Scripture that you may find helpful.

    You must realise the reality of these gifts, their influence upon your life and their necessity within the body of Christ. If you see them as no big deal, then you will miss out. God will not take you where you are not prepared to go. And think about your response. Have you experienced giving a present to a child and the reaction has been “I’ve already got one of these” and the child ignores it or even worse throws it away? How did it make you feel? I wonder how God takes it? Do not ignore the gifts from God; be very grateful for what he gives you. Every person is blessed with at least one spiritual gift and God has given you sufficient grace to exercise that gift within the life of the church and beyond (Romans 12:3,6). So seek God. Be diligent in prayer. Ask him, you will not be disappointed (Luke 11:11-13).

    You must offer yourself to God and to each other in the body of Christ (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:4,27). This means first of all that you must be willing to unconditionally surrender to the will of God for your life. Bear in mind that this will include the need for you to submit your gift to the body of Christ as well. There are many parts to the body and God arranges them just as he wants them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). Concentrate on developing your particular gift. It is your responsibility (Romans 12:3). Do not compare or envy or compete with others. There are a wide variety of gifts. Run with what God has given you — that is what is best for you. And bring it into submission to the church. There are no lone rangers here. No so called spiritual elites, the “haves” and “have-nots”.

    You must be living a godly life, if you desire to achieve an effective use of your gift (Romans 12:9-21). We cannot fool God. Living the life in the Spirit maximises the opportunity for God to use you to bring about blessing in many people’s lives and that is what service for him is all about.

    There we have it! The gifts of the Spirit. The cause of confusion for some and, sadly, even division. The important key for you and me, is that we submit to God, and as to what happens afterwards, well — that’s God’s concern. Be open to his leading. He is the giver of gifts. Our choice is to whether to use the gift or reject it.

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