Monday, February 23, 2009

Spiritual gifts and spiritual imbalances

Colossians 1:9 – 14

Balancing our Imbalances


A.        Facts:

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. [5] There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. [6] There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” [1 Corinthians 12:4 – 6]


            1.         There are three different concepts mentioned by Paul. (Ways to understand spiritual gifts)


                        a.         Gifts – (Greek “charisma”) are the spiritual quality or ability.


                        b.         Service – (Greek “diakonia”) are the applications of those abilities.


                        c.         Working – (Greek “energema”) are the effects.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with [Gifts] the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. [10] And we pray this in order that you may live [Service] a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, [11] being strengthened with all power [Working] according to his glorious might” ... [Colossians 1:9 – 14]


            2.         Specific gifts can have a corresponding responsibility for EVERYONE. (Not inclusive list)


                        a.         giving — tithing


                        b.         evangelism — sharing faith


                        c.         missions/pastor — supporting

***** Just because you do NOT have a gift does not excuse you from your biblical and universal responsibility. *****


            3.         Specific gifts can have multiple applications. (Not inclusive list)


                        a.         generosity/giving — money, time, resources


                        b.         evangelism — group, personal, electronic/written


                        c.         missions/pastor — visionaries, people person, preaching

***** The use of gifts in service comes from the context, opportunity, possibilities, personality, and talents of the person. *****


            4.         Specific gifts have related effects and perspectives. [These become our strengths and weaknesses.]


                        a.         Gifts through wisdom and understanding [v 9]


                        b.         Service to live worthy, bear fruit, growth (commitment) [v 10]


                        c.         Working involving strength, reflecting God’s might (power) [v 11]

(See Christian Schwarz “The 3 Colors of Ministry”)


B.        Problems:


            1.         We tend to view the world through our own perspective (gift preference).


                        a.         We don’t understand people who are different.


                        b.         We don’t like people who are different.


                        c.         We don’t want to work with people who are different.


            2.         We tend to think everyone is (or should be) like us.


                        a.         If you are heavily into wisdom and understanding, you might be critical about efforts and strategies to evangelize.


                        b.         If you are “holiness” you might frown on those who have insight into “legalism.”


                        c.         If you are “charismatic” you might be disgusted with those who don’t seem to worship or experience the power of God.


            3.         We tend to think the answer to everything is from our personal comfort zone.


                        a.         People heavily into wisdom think “church growth” and its resulting philosophies and models are rubbish. Churches don’t grow because they’ve become offensive in their “end justifies the means.”


                        b.         People who are into commitment thing “church growth” is simply a matter of wanting to... therefore if a church is not growing, its because they don’t want too.


                        c.         People who lean toward power seem to think that the reason the church does not grow is because it lacks the presence of God.


            4.         We can take a hard-line and become unbalanced.


                        a.         Wisdom oriented people become critical without improving. Wisdom becomes human in origin and orientation.


                        b.         Commitment oriented people become devastatingly discouraging without love. Commitment becomes a matter of “want-to” with no room for understanding others.


                        c.         Power oriented people become judgmental. Absolute power/authority is given to experience, the more emotional the more divine...

(Ill.) An airplane: for some reason the flight crew becomes unable to fly the plane. The first person knows how to fly but lacks the desire, confidence, or willingness to fly the plane. The second person jumps into the pilots seat and immediately flips the airplane upside down and suggest that the reason people are not happy is because they were not wearing their seat belt. The third person organizes a prayer meeting, cartwheels into the cockpit, knocks the second person out, and commands the airplane to fly and land safely at their destination!

***** This unbalanced life is without true transforming power. There may be “success” but the imbalance eventually undermines any success, progress, or growth. *****


C.        Proposed Solutions:

(Ill. Nature: An unbalance wheel is a problem. A wheel that is mostly round will hit those flat spots. A wheel that is flat and riding along on whatever is happening at the moment eventually destroys itself.)


            1.         There is NOT one way to do ministry or for a church to grow. Different is just different. Different gifts, different ways to serve, different effects. The body needs diversity in gifts, service, work.


            2.         What works today may not work tomorrow. (It’s why there is seldom sustainable growth... we find something that works and work it until it works against us. Church growth cycles run in about 2-years of growth followed by decline or plateau.) Just because you put weight on the right leg to walk does not mean that will continue your progress, you have to shift your weight to the left leg to continue.


            3.         The key is to discover:


                        a.         What is your gift/s?


                        b.         How can your gift/s be used in useful service?


                        c.         What will be God’s part in the use of your gift/s?

(Ill.) An airplane: for some reason the flight crew becomes unable to fly the plane. The first person knows how to fly but lacks the desire, confidence, or willingness to fly the plane. Being unwilling to fly the airplane they climb into the co-pilot’s seat and gives instructions. The second person jumps into the pilot’s seat and immediately flies the airplane with instructions from the first person. The third person organizes a prayer meeting, commands the airplane to fly and land safely, realizes everyone needs encouragement and serves dinner as an act of faith.

Sounds silly? This actually happened! [Acts 27:9 – 36]


D.        Personal proposal:


            1.         Give careful consideration to your strengths and gifts.


            2.         Give prayerful consideration to your weaknesses and blind spots.


            3.         Ask God for the needed balance. Personally and in our church.


            4.         Learn from others and help/allow others to be good at what they are good at (instead of becoming bad at what they are bad at).

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