In the first part of this series, we looked at an often-overlooked role of grace: its empowerment for spiritual growth in a believer.
But this is not the only part of God’s grace toward Christians that gets overlooked. The other major work of “grace” in the Christian life is God’s empowerment for ministry.
The foremost example of this is the apostle Paul, who repeatedly cited the grace of God that was give to him for the particular ministry to which he was called: taking the gospel to the nations (Romans 1:5; 15:15-16; 1 Cor. 3:10; 15:10; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:2, 7-8).
But it is most definitely not limited to Paul!
Every believer has been given a gift of God’s grace to serve (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11). In fact, the very word charisma – from which the term “charismatic gifts” is derived – means “that which is freely and graciously given” (BDAG, 1081). A spiritual gift is a gift of God’s grace, one possessed by every believer without exception.
Peter connects these two terms – charisma (gift) and charis (grace) in explaining how believers should treat that which they have been graciously given (1 Peter 4:10).
So every believer has been given grace to serve. This means that, if you are a Christian…
- You have an ability to serve
If we serve, it is to be “by the strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11).
Depending on your perspective, this may seem like a good or bad thing.
You may want to serve, and this is an encouragement to you. Great!
But you also may not want to serve, and you thought you had an out: that you’re not worth much to God’s cause. However, saying it doesn’t make it true (1 Cor. 12:15-16). And every believer needs to realize that if he isn’t serving, it isn’t because of God’s choice not to give him power, but because of his own choice not to use it.
But for those who want to do what honors God, what a great thing it is to know that God has not just given ministry responsibilities but also ministry ability!
- You have an obligation to serve
The individually-given gift of God is the basis for Peter’s charge: “employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
To not use one’s spiritual gift, where there is opportunity, is not simply failure; it is poor stewardship. God has given them to be used. A person who is a Christian who does not serve is, by definition, a poor steward of the resources that God has provided.
- You have a reason to serve
The goal is not just “because you’re supposed to.” There are intended outcomes of using the grace that God supplies to the Christian in serving:
- To build up the church, Christ’s body, to the maturity that belongs to him (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- That people would benefit from the unique contributions you bring: hearing God’s word, being served, being taught and exhorted, receiving needed finances, being led, being shown mercy (Romans 12:6-8).
- That God may be glorified through Christ in all things (1 Peter 4:11).
Only the power of God at work in a Christian – God’s grace in ministry empowerment – can make these things possible. But his grace is there, they are able to be accomplished by those who serve as faithful stewards of what God has given them.