Stewardship of Our Gifts

Dr. Rob Green November 15, 2020 1 Peter 4:10-11
Outline

Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

The author assumes you already know two things:

#1. That every Christian is gifted by God to accomplish certain things in His church

1 Corinthians 12:4-5, 11 - Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

#2. That you understand the way God wants you to minister

4 truths to properly steward our gifts

I. Use your gifts

Romans 12:6-8 - Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

II. Focus on benefitting others

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

A. Consider how ministry can be beneficial

1 Corinthians 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

B. It comes from the manifold grace of God

III. Maximize your ministry potential

1 Peter 4:11a Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies

A. Speakers: learn to be a better interpreter of God’s Word

B. Servants: with the strength the Lord provides

IV. Proper Use brings glory to God through Christ

1 Peter 4:11b so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I hope that you have enjoyed stewardship month this year. I also hope you have wrestled with some honest questions …

  • Are my priorities in the right places?
  • Do I honestly evaluate how I use all of God’s financial blessings?
  • Am I using my time well by asking the Lord to make me glad, to show me his work, and to confirm mine?

Stewardship is God given responsibility with accountability. We encouraged every person who calls Faith their home church to memorize that definition along with the four factors of stewardship:

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

“Entrusts” is the key word of this sentence. God decides to give to each of you a portion of what belongs to him. Each person receives their own package with lots of items in it.

  • I have absolutely no rhythm. That is why watching a drummer is totally amazing to me. Their feet are doing stuff and their hands are doing different stuff. I find it amazing to watch.
  • I am amazed at artists. Their minds can see certain things and then communicate to their hands to bring it to life. It is amazing.
  • Every one of us has been entrusted with a host of different abilities, talents, finances, time, strength and God tells us to steward it all for him.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it.

As I mentioned last week, increase in some cases will mean get 5 and make 5 more. In other cases, the increase will come in its effectiveness. You don’t get more of it and you can’t make more (like time), but you get the opportunity to use it better or more effectively.

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

Last Sunday on the stewardship of time was a clear reminder that our lives are short.

Today, we are going to study the Stewardship of Gifts. Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 4:10.

The biblical authors often assume that you have a certain amount of understanding about a subject they are talking about. In 1 Peter 4:10 it starts by saying, “As each one has received a special gift.”

  • Wait a minute, what are you talking about?
  • What gift is he referring to?
  • Do I have one of those?

It is like entering into a conversation half-way through. You ever done that?

  • Two people are talking and you decide to say something and their looks tell you that you are significantly behind in the conversation.

We need to understand the subject matter first. Apparently, Peter or someone else has already instructed this audience about the subject of gifts. So, let’s start by reviewing his starting place. He assumes that you know 2 things.

#1. That every Christian is gifted by God to accomplish certain things in His church

The Bible teaches that God specifically gives gifts to his children at the time when they place their faith and trust in Jesus’s finished work for their salvation.

1 Corinthians 12:4-5, 11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

The Bible teaches that one role of the Holy Spirit is to distribute gifts to God’s people.

  • This means that every single one of you that has placed your faith in Christ for your salvation has been given all you need to make a difference for the cause of Christ.
  • You have been equipped to help the church grow and mature.

I need to stop right here and say to those of you who might not have a saving relationship with Jesus that you need to start right there. Do not worry about this discussion of gifts. For you the most important matter is repenting of your sin and trusting in the D/B/R of Jesus Christ for your salvation. We would love to talk more about that with you. Please tell one of the service pastors at the table in the foyer.

Assuming you know Christ, the first matter is knowing that you have been gifted by God to accomplish ministry in the church.

#2. That you understand the way God wants you to minister

1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12:3-8, Eph 4:7-16, and 1 Peter 4:10-11 are the four primary passages in the NT that discuss spiritual gifts. But nowhere is there a formula, a spiritual gift test to discern how the Lord has equipped you to serve in his church. However, there is an expectation in each of these passages that you would know how God wants you to use them.

Wait a minute! Are you telling me that God expects me to know how I am supposed to serve, but does not provide a spiritual gift test inventory for me to figure it out?

  • Yes, that is what I am saying.

You might say, well, then how would I know what God wants me to do?

  • Serve and watch. Serve and watch.
  • As you serve it will become more obvious where God wants you to minister in his body.

Let me tell you a personal story to illustrate it … I was growing spiritually like a weed just before and during my junior year of college. I was experiencing tremendous personal change and circumstantial change.

  • I decided that I would take my summer before my senior year and work at a Christian camp.
  • By the grace of God, it accomplished two things for me: (1) It confirmed my desire to serve in ministry. I ended the summer thinking more about vocational ministry than ever before; and (2) It absolutely convinced me that I never, ever, ever, ever, ever wanted to serve in camp ministry.

The latter point did not take long to discover. I received a note a few days after the first full week of camp from a camper who thanked me for being his counselor but who also said his counselor the year before was better 😊. Ouch!

My thoughts were confirmed later … several more weeks into the summer the senior higher came (they gave the newbees, like me, a chance to warm up with the little ones before the big ones came). While there was a group of very spiritually minded kids, there was also a huge group who spent all week trying to see how many girls they could make out with in the woods. They were show offs all week.

  • Then, Friday night is the big bonfire where they all go and bear their souls before everyone and make their commitments to suffer for Jesus on the mission field.
  • The kids who lived for Jesus all week did not say much that night. You might hear something like “I am thankful for a week to come to camp and reflect on my walk with Jesus. I am thankful my parents provided the funds to do this.”
  • Those who created all the trouble, the drama boys all week, including 10 minutes before the bonfire, would stand up of give this huge speech, cry, talk about how hard it is to live for Jesus and how they were going home … blah, blah, blah.
  • There were times during these camp ending bonfires that I thought I would spontaneously combust. The Friday night bonfire was the worst part of the whole week.

David Douglas came to FBS 4 years ago after 25 years in camp ministry. He loved it. Praise Jesus. When I first met him, I thought that the Lord finally let him out of purgatory.

Do you see my point?

That summer camp made a huge impact on me. The Lord used it to direct me, to bring clarity to my own soul about how the Lord would want to use me in the days to come. Whatever it took to serve at a Christian camp and love it --- was not included in my gift basket from the Holy Spirit 😉.

If you are in the discovery stage, then by all means try different ministries. Serve in LN, serve in CFE, serve in Children’s ministries, serve with the youth, be a class coordinator for your ABF. Get in there and see where the Lord wants to use you.

All of that was the basic foundation (the big fancy theology phrase is “antecedent theology”) necessary to understand that little phrase, “as each one has received a special gift.” [some translations do not include special, but say “as each has received a gift”]… please notice what it says next … READ 1 PETER 4:10-11

We are going to consider 4 truths to properly steward our gifts

I. Use your gifts

Well, that seems obvious doesn’t it? If we have served enough to understand how the Lord wants to use us in ministry, then proper stewardship is using it. I think it would help us if we bring in a little more detail to see what this “using our gifts” might look like. Romans 12 explains some more detail…

Romans 12:6-8 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Peter does not take the same amount of space to highlight different ways that people serve and are used by the Lord, but the connection is clear in this text.

  • If God equipped you for teaching then you have to be teaching.
  • If God equipped you to be an exhorter then you have to exhort.
  • If God equipped you to be a giver then you have to give generously
  • If God equipped you to be a mercy-giver then you have to give mercy with cheerfulness.

This is why it is absolutely critical that no member of Faith church ever believe it is okay for 100% of the work to be done by 10%, 20%, 50% or 75% of the people. The Bible teaches that every believer in Jesus must be actively using their gifts.

  • The only biblical formula is 100% of the work is done by 100% of the people.

If you are not serving, I want to exhort you not to squander or neglect the ministry that God wants you to do.

Now, I want to push our understanding a little bit further. Consider the popularity of people with certain ministry opportunity.

Mercy people are very popular. I mean who doesn’t want to hang out with the mercy people? They are always smiling and encouraging and loving. They manage to find the good in everything. They bake you cookies and make a meal for you. In fact, they feed you so well that you gain 25 pounds and they tell you that your outfit looks amazing on you. We love mercy people!

The exhorter doesn’t do that. The exhorter is trying to find the nicest way possible to say, “Dude, your outfit is about to explode. Whatever diet you are on ain’t working.”

  • Who wants to be around the exhorter people? No one!
  • No exhorter wins the “most friendly” award in the HS yearbook. No exhorter wins employee of the month either.

Teacher people are also popular. We want good teachers to explain God’s word in clear ways. We love them and appreciate them for their ability to open up the Bible and unpack it in ways we never could do ourselves.

What about leader people. It is hard to exercise leadership. The Bible says do it with diligence. Leader people also have people who don’t really want to be led. They are not always voted most popular either.

  • Can you imagine Pastor Viars’ job? He is in staff meeting telling us “Let’s go take that hill. Come on, we can do it with the Lord’s strength.”

Do you really think he wants to drag me up the hill? NO!

My point is that I know it is hard sometimes to exercise your ministry. I know that at times your ministry design might not make you the most popular person in the world. But the Lord has given you specific ministry purposes. He has a slot in his church for you. He has taken a slice of the overall ministry pie and delivered it to you and said, “I want you to be a good steward of this ministry.”

Who are you or who am I to say to the Lord. “Lord, I don’t want this slice. I want that slice over there. If you don’t give me that slice, then I am not doing anything.”

Friends, stewardship is embracing whatever the Lord has given you and finding ways to exercise it. If you need help, then talk to your service pastor. One of our jobs is to help you get deployed into joyful, fulfilling ministry.

II. Focus on benefitting others

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I suggested that each believer in Jesus has a ministry package. The Lord molded and shaped you to have a valuable contribution to the cause of Christ. I also suggested that the first step of stewardship is using that package … employing it … giving it a job to do.

Yet, one of the hurdles is that sometimes what you do is not always viewed as loving, caring, and helpful. We like ministries and people who teach well, exercise a lot of mercy, and are very generous. We do not always equally appreciate leadership or exhortation.

But listen carefully to the Word of the Lord – employ it in serving one another.

  1. Consider how ministry can be beneficial

I am not going to address in this sermon the wrong exercise of gifts. It is possible to sin while leading. It is possible to sin while exhorting or teaching. It is possible to sin in showing mercy. I am not talking about that category.

I am speaking this morning about how some people are intimidated to fulfill their ministries because others might not always like it.

  • Leaders have to lead with all diligence because it is good for us non-leaders. We need people who tell us that we can take that hill with the Lord’s strength.

In the history of Faith, without leaders we have no counseling ministry, we have no FCS, we have no FBS, we have no VOH, no restoration, no Faith West, no NCC.

Were there obstacles? Were their naysayers? Were there people who decided to take their ball and go home when this kind of leadership was enacted?

  • You better believe it.

It is not for the purpose of the leaders’ ego. It is for the betterment of the body.

  • Do you know how many meaningful serving opportunities and job opportunities these ministries have created?
  • These ministries open up more and more chances for people to use all of their gifts and abilities to further the cause of Christ.

Can you imagine if we had no exhorter people? Exhorters call us out. They cut through all the garbage and get right to the point. There have been many days when I wish I was not an exhorter and there are people in my circle of influence who wished the same.

  • I do not want to be rude, mean, or inappropriate. I do not wake up hoping to offend people that day.
  • When I see foolishness I struggle letting it go. Not because I need to control people. But because I feel this burning desire to exercise my gift of exhortation. I can feel it welling up within me. It is constantly on the tip of my tongue.
  • Why is exhortation serving others?
  • Exhorters push us to personal change, to genuine progressive sanctification.
  • That is making a difference for the cause of Christ.

What about mercy people. Since I am an exhorter I absolutely love being around mercy people. In fact, the more merciful the better. Because mercy people are always cheerful and smiling. They see the good and encourage one another for everything that is right.

  • That is awesome. That is part of the fuel and strength for additional ministry.

Can you see why each one is so beneficial to others?

  • If no leaders will lead (because they are tired of dragging people), then the rest of us wander aimlessly.
  • If no exhorters will exhort (because they are afraid of losing another friendship), then the rest of us do not grow to be more like Christ.
  • If no mercy people will cheerfully give mercy, then the rest of us will be exhausted from the leaders and depressed from the exhorters.

In another key passage on gifts it says,

1 Corinthians 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

This passage explains how everyone, with their various ministry packages contribute to one another and how no one can say to anyone else that their ministry is not valuable.

  1. It comes from the manifold grace of God

God views the opportunity for employing gifts as a grace. You did not earn it. You do not have a right to it. It is was given as a trust to you that you would steward that grace well. “Manifold” refers to the various kinds of grace. It is saying that each of us have our own unique ministry place and function. So, whatever that is for you, it came because of grace.

We have covered two of the points so far … 1. That you have to use your gifts and 2. That they are designed to serve others.

III. Maximize your ministry potential

1 Peter 4:11a Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies

This is an interesting portion of the verse. We see that if you have speaking responsibilities then that is to be done like you are speaking the utterances of God. If you have serving responsibilities, then they must be done with the strength God supplies.

The more I was wrestling with this, the more I wondered how we could actually do this. What would it look like to speak as one speaking the utterances of God.

  1. Speakers: learn to be a better interpreter of God’s Word

If you believe that God has designed you to serve the body of Christ by using your voice, then maximizing your potential involves the ability to speak more consistently what God says.

This relates to exhorter people, to teacher people, and to encourager people. This involves pastors, ABF teachers, FCI teachers, CM teachers, counselors, and mentors. It is your job to communicate the utterances of God.

  • Each kind of speaking opportunity may have different requirements for the depth of study, the way the material is presented, or the amount of material you discuss.
  • But please, please, please see each opportunity as a chance to instill the word of the Lord to those you are serving.

This means that you have the ability to explain your Bible to the people you are serving. Your ideas are not as important as God’s.

One of the take-aways from today’s sermon might be to improve your ability to read, understand, and explain God’s truth. This could be what “increasing your stewardship” looks like.

  • It might not necessarily be more talking or teaching, but better talking and better teaching.

Take an FCI class, read a book (I still believe that How to Read the Bible for All its Worth is a fantastic introduction to Bible study), take a class, pay closer attention to the Bible being taught by others, or buy a commentary.

  • Commit to Scripture memory or seek to study each book of the Bible so that you know it better than before.

If God wants you to use your voice to serve others, then be diligent to ensure that it is God’s words that are going to come out of your mouth.

  1. Servants: with the strength the Lord provides

Again, I was wrestling with what that would this look like in a real life situation. When we think about serving we would consider things like mercy, helps, leading, and giving.

To do something with the strength the Lord provides suggests an honest dependence on the Lord. It is not that my service automatically happens, it is that I am serving dependent on the Lord to give me the strength to fulfill the ministry.

  • Rather than a prideful bravado, there is humble dependence.

I could see that with a gift of helps. A person decides to serve a neighbor by raking their leaves. I need strength and energy to accomplish that task.

  • A person decides to make someone else a meal. They need strength and energy for that task.

I could see that with leading.

  • Dragging all the Russells requires a lot of strength and energy. When people are not wanting to be led, energy can be hard to come by.

Serving in ways that are beneficial to people can be exhausting and it requires the Lord’s strength to keep moving in the right direction.

Maximizing your potential is all about the 3rd stewardship factor … That God wants me to increase.

  • Increasing does not necessarily mean you have more opportunities, but that your opportunities are more effective.

That brings us to the final point this morning to effectively steward your gifts …

IV. Proper Use brings glory to God through Christ

1 Peter 4:11b so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

It is possible in ministry situations to do things for our own glory and fame.

  • We are more interested in our words, than God’s or more interested in our strength than his. We want people to praise us.

The more this service is a part of your life the more dangerous the temptation. Many of you have seen the number of individuals who have fallen – even big names.

  • Paul Tripp wrote a book called Dangerous Calling and 3 of the 4 main endorsers on the back significantly fell from grace. Their “off the charts” gifts became sources for pride.

Our danger, us normal people, looks different. We are not packing auditoriums, giving sermon snippets on the radio, or writing books that sell millions of copies.

  • But we are nonetheless tempted to self worship. Tempted to think that our ministry is better than the person next to me who is clearly not pulling their weight. \
  • It is possible to look for notoriety, even within a ministry.

But when we are dedicated to doing our speaking using the utterances of God and when we are dedicated to using God’s strength in our serving, then there is nothing left for us to boast about.

  • It was God’s word and God’s strength that made the ministry possible.

The result is that God is glorified through Jesus Christ. This is exactly what should happen because Jesus, in turn, owns glory and dominion for all eternity.

  • Thus, the praise and glory of God resulting from the effective use of our gifts is exactly the result that should occur.

This month we have covered a lot of stewardship ground. We have spoken about priorities, about time, about treasure, and now about gifts. They represent this wonderful picture of a ministry package that God has given you so that you might be a good steward of all he has given.

There are ministry opportunities to use your gifts, to serve others, to maximize that potential, and to bring glory to God. That is true now and it will be even truer once the pandemic is over.

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.