Nearly ten years ago I attended a banquet and as a result was entered into a raffle. Then someone put my name on a raffle ticket he had purchased. The big prize was a new, touchscreen iPod (yes, this was back when it was more novel to have a touchscreen). I had no idea what that device was and I didn’t see what the excitement was about. When my name was announced as the winner I was a bit embarrassed. What would I do with it? What was it? Shouldn’t someone else receive that instead of me?
That prize, in many ways, was like a gift.
Have you ever received a curious gift? There are some gifts that we asked for and we think we know just what to do with them. There are other gifts that we unwrap and we don’t know what they are.
As we look at Ephesians 4:11-16 today, we’ll ask a couple questions:
What is the gift here?
Why was the gift given?
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)
What’s the gift given here? Verse 11 explains this well. This passage reminded me of I Corinthians 12, but as I read commentaries I realized I have missed something for too long. In I Corinthians 12 we learn about various spiritual gifts, all people who have trusted Christ as Savior have some type of gift. In Ephesians 4 we learn that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, the shepherds and teachers are a gift.
Why was this gift given? Take a look at Ephesians 4:12, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,…”
In short, we have these gifts to help us grow up to be more like Christ! Commentator Richards (p.923) explains that some people have “become gifts” and that “Gift-people are ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service’ (v. 12). Leaders are not to do the work of the ministry; leaders are to prepare the laity to minister.” Each believer, including us, has good work to do. God has provided people to help us use our spiritual gifts to minister to others. “In a living organism, every cell contributes” (Richards, p. 923). “Only as we grow toward maturity together can we respond fully to Jesus as He directs us to serve in the world. Only a strong and healthy body can carry out the tasks assigned to it” (Richards, p.924).
When I ended up in the hospital for weeks the following year, that iPod was a huge blessing. I was able to connect with family back in the States by video through that gadget. What if I hadn’t learned how to use that resource?
God has provided for us not only salvation, but the gift of those who will help us become mature believers. When we are mature in our faith we will not be tossed to and fro by the cunning of deceivers. He knows exactly what we need. Every gift He gives is with purpose.
It's good to reflect on the gifts we have received and to use them well.
What gifts has God given the Church?
What gift(s) has He given to you personally?
How are you using those gifts to build up and minister to others?
Unopened gifts are a sad reality. Let's note what gifts we have received, discover why, and use them to the glory of the Giver! His gifts are perfect.
Thank you for providing rescue for me, I do not deserve the gift of Christ. Please help me to live as you want me to, mature and stable even in the storm. Thank you for those you’ve placed in my life as a gift to help me grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Questions to Ponder
What gifts have you received that meant the most to you? Why?
Where have you seen growth in your life?
How are you pursuing maturity in your faith?
How are you contributing to the Church?
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:11–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Richards, L.O. (2004). Bible teacher’s commentary. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook.