Loving Beyond Our Exhausted Strength and into the Capacities of God

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April 7, 2022

1 Peter 4:8 NIV

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. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

CONSIDER THIS

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

What gift have you received? 

You have a special Holy Spirit-given capacity to offer to the Church Jesus is building. It is not a “spiritual gift” as they are commonly called. The word is “charisma”, and it means grace-gifts. Given by the Holy Spirit, grace gifts are specific capacities and particular expressions of the supernatural love (agape) of God, given to the followers of Jesus for the blessing and benefit of one another. They are ways and means by which we participate in and express the nature, presence, and power of God within and beyond the Body of Christ. They are not necessarily functional talents or things you are, naturally or by practice, good at. 

Over the years, the church we are building has functionalized and pragmatized the notion of the gifts of the Spirit. Many of you have actually taken “spiritual gifts inventories” that “score” your gifts. Local churches often use these kinds of tools to match and involve people in particular programmatic ministries and missions of the church. These things are not wrong or somehow bad to do. I just don’t think it works this way. Before proceeding, I would also observe this is the subject of an entire Daily Text series as well. 

So for starters, the gifts of the Spirit are not functional abilities. They are divine capacities; hence my use of the term “transcendent.” A gift of the Holy Spirit is a transcendent capacity to work in a particular way. It is to operate in the very same way Jesus operated; which is why I think the very best research concerning the grace-gifts of the Spirit comes from studying Jesus Himself. The Gifts of the Spirit in the Life of Jesus. Why has no-one written that book or have I just not found it? Consider it commissioned now! 

There are many such dimensions of these gifts ranging from showing mercy and providing helps to speaking prophecy and performing miracles. Peter identifies a range from prophetic speech to waiting tables in today’s text. So what is Peter doing here in today’s text? We must remember verse eight before considering verse nine, “Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Hospitality here likely refers to taking in Christians they didn’t know (i.e. strangers likely fleeing persecution) for meals and overnight lodging from other towns on “no-notice.” Biblical hospitality, contrary to it’s current Martha Stewart-ization, is not about special guests you invite into your home to “entertain.” It’s about the people you didn’t invite who you may not know who show up at your door. This is the stuff that makes us grumble, right?

they should do so with the strength God provides, 

Peter is calling us out as a people whose efforts to follow Jesus on our own strength and resources has led us to depletion. He reminds us we are part of a supernatural community who operates from a wealth of divine capacities—Spirit given grace gifts. In other words, he is saying to us something like, “Stop trying to do all this in your own strength. No wonder you are grumbling. Your love is of human origin. You must level up (or down as the case may be) to the love that is of divine origin.”

so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are the giver and you are the gift. In fact, you show us what it looks like when all of the capacity of Almighty God shows up in a human being. Jesus, you are the Gift and you show us the gifts and how they operate. Holy Spirit would you train us in the ways you are gifting us—even me. I want to move with your capacity and always in the deep deep love of God. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

How have you related to the Holy Spirit given gifts of grace? How do you think you have misunderstood them in the past? Do you have a sense of the gift you have received? What has that been like for you? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. JD, your presentation of Spiritual grace-gifts confirms the conclusions that I have come to believe as I have studied them to better understand and employ them. First of all, I’ve come to understand that it’s really not us that’s doing the ministry that the grace-gift enables, but rather a manifestation of the Spirit in us, as per 1 Corinthians 12:8. Secondly, I believe the gift(s) that the Spirit distributes, determine our calling as members of the universal priesthood of all believers. Thirdly, I’ve found that God seems to confirm that calling through the joy that I experience while employing it. Fourthly, I believe that other believers who acknowledge one’s gift and are blessed through its use, are a much more reliable source than any Spiritual Gifts survey.

  2. The Holy Spirit’s gifts of grace operate in & through Christ-followers who listen to the Spirits prompting & do what He tells them to. As they act in faith, humility, & obedience, various (as listed in in 1 Corinthians 12 & other places) supernatural manifestations of God’s presence occur.

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