REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on July 29, 2014. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Going Against the Grain”
1 Peter 4:8-9
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
The Kingdom priorities are so different from those of the world. For instance, the message of the world is that if you have some special gift, use it for yourself–to climb up the ladder of success in order to get rich and famous. This is so tempting since the world lifts up those who are talented and idolizes them. On the other hand, the Bible goes against the world’s teaching, showing us a greater purpose for the special gifts God has given to us. It is not to lift up self, but to lift up others: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.”
God given gifts are to be poured out, instead of in. That is, it is to be given, rather than to receive. In this way, the motivation to use our gifts is not fame, but love: “Above all, love each other deeply.” This is the reason why the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is sandwiched between the two chapters on gifts, clearly showing us the reason behind the practice of gifts: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
If our motivation becomes inward instead of outward, this is when we start to abuse the spiritual gifts, exalting self instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, Christ’s power to change is replaced with emotions, and heavenly revival is replaced with hype and manipulation. If we want to see the genuine movement of God, we need to develop and use the spiritual gifts out of love for God and love for others.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me spiritual gifts. Help me to use it to lift up and encourage others so that others may see you, rather than drawing attention to myself. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 10
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV): If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Questions to Consider
- Think about how you can use your God given gift to encourage one person today?
- If you weren’t concerned about how you look when developing your spiritual gifts, what is one thing you would do this week to activate your gift?
- An example would be that if you have a gift of generosity (Rom. 12:8), then take that co-worker, who has been down, out for lunch. And if your gift is showing mercy and you happen to be a boss, then give a break to that employee who shipped the package to the wrong address.
- It may be that many people have the gift of evangelism but rarely ever use it. Even if we don’t have that gift, we ought to share the gospel anyway. So, pray for boldness, have some ideas as to what to say, and then open your mouth to share the gospel with someone.
Be honest about some of the wrong motivations in your heart for desiring and using spiritual gifts, and lay them down before the Lord.