What is the Purpose of a Gift?

What is the purpose of a gift?  In recent days, I have been thinking about this question, as my children excitedly complete their Amazon wish lists with a number of items they hope to receive as gifts this year.  As I scroll through their list, I’m not sure there is enough hours in a year to play all the video games they’ve saved, enough space to fit all the stuffed animals my daughter has marked, or enough bins to hold the variety of Legos they want to add to their collection.  As I look around our home, interspersed with long-neglected toys, clothes that still include the tags, and books collecting dust, I cannot help but wonder – how long it will take for this year’s gifts to join them in the dustbin of obsolescence.

Both giving and receiving gifts is a special experience, but the reality is, once the initial excitement wears off, gifts often fail to live up to the purpose for which they were given in the first place.  This is a picture of what can happen in the local church.

In Romans 12:6 and Ephesians 4:7-8, the Apostle Paul declares that God has given His church a variety of gifts to be used for a the very special purpose of building up Christ’s body in love, that we might be the light to the world.  God’s gifts to His church are not primarily material in nature, but just like those we receive at Christmas, they are often set aside, long-neglected and relegated to collecting proverbial dust.

Do you realize that God’s gifts to His church include you and your unique abilities and perspective?  Some have been gifted for intercessory prayer, crying out to God on behalf of His church and His world.  Some have been given the gift of generosity, seeking ways to bless others in material ways.  Some have the gift of mercy, having their hearts stirred toward action on behalf of those who are suffering.  Some have the gift of administration, establishing systems that enable the church to operate well for the sake of her mission in the world.  Some have the gift of hospitality, opening their home and their lives, so that the lonely and disconnected can be welcomed in the name of Jesus.   Others have been given the gift of service, looking for opportunities to fill needs wherever they might be and doing so without regard to the spotlight.  Others have been gifted to teach or preach in order to equip the body of Christ for the work of ministry.  Others have been gifted in other ways to help the church be all she has been called to be.

When we all use our gifts together in the unique way in which God has equipped us, the church becomes the beautiful picture of Christ’s love before a watching world.  When we put our gifts on the sidelines, we rob both the church and ourselves of the purpose for which Christ gave those gifts.

On Sunday, December 17, we have the opportunity to identify and encourage the use of specific gifts for the offices of elder and deacon at Calvary.  We are asking you to prayerfully consider nominating those men whom Christ has gifted in areas of biblical instruction, leadership, and shepherding to be elders in this local church.  In addition, we are asking you to prayerfully consider nominating those men whom Christ has gifted in areas of mercy and service to use their gifts as deacons at Calvary.  (Read 1 Timothy 3:1-10 and Titus 1:5-9 for the Holy Spirit-empowered character qualities of officers in the church).

Finally, I want to encourage each of you to please prayerfully ask God how He would have you use your God-given gifts for the building up of His body, the church, wherever He has placed you.  What is the purpose of a gift?  What is the purpose of the gifts that God has given you?  Will you use them or leave them on the sidelines?