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Using What You've Got

October 9th 2011 by Joel Schultz

Today we continue our stewardship series entitled "Bearing Fruit for Jesus." Today we hear God's Word from 1 Peter 4 concerning the stewardship (the faithful use) of our talents. Read the message to find out more...

Stewardship Series, Bearing Fruit for Jesus - Week 2 – “Using What You’ve Got” – 1 Peter 4:10-11 – October 9, 2011

Today we hear the second sermon in a stewardship series entitled Bearing Fruit for Jesus. Last week vicar proclaimed God’s Word concerning a fruitful use of our time. I would encourage you to go to the website and meditate on that word if you missed services last week… it would be well worth your time. Today we hear God’s Word concerning a very related topic – the fruitful use of our talents – the stewardship of the skills and abilities that God has given for service in His creation.

Our text gives us two important truths as we consider our stewardship – the faithful and fruitful use of the gifts God give us. Peter writes: “As each has received a gift” (v 10). The first truth is that every single person has been given talents, abilities, skills – gifts. God, in His grace and in His wisdom, has given each one of us certain talents and gifts. Generally, He gives us the ones we can use the best and with which we can accomplish the most. He doesn’t overload us, nor does He overlook us. He gives us the talents and the gifts that can best accomplish His purpose through us. To one person He gives many, to another a few. One is the best for this; another is better at something else. Whatever we are and whatever we have, these are all gifts from God.

But, I think there are a couple of important aspects to the giftedness that God gives. Just because God gives gifts doesn’t mean we become automatic experts. We often have gifts and talents that we need to work on and practice at and grow in. For example, God may gift someone as a Bible teacher, but it is a talent that the person continually works at in order to become even more effective in the communication of the truths of God.

Also, God actually will give new gifts and abilities as we have need. This happens all the time – even without us necessarily thinking about it or noticing. For example, to the new father, God gives the ability to be a good, loving, nurturing father. Again he will need to practice and work at it all his life, but the gifts are given. To the member with the unbelieving coworker, God gives the ability to speak the Gospel. I have heard many members in my time as a pastor say “witnessing is not in my comfort zone,” or “I wouldn’t know what to say,” or “I’m just not that good at it.”

Based on what the Scriptures say, that is a difficult position to take. If you know someone that is not connected to Jesus, and you are connected to Jesus and know the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus, then He does give you the talent to speak the Gospel. Again, you may need practice, but the ability will be given – it’s a promise the Lord makes.

Well, let’s look at the second truth as we consider the fruitful use of our talents. Peter writes: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (v. 10). The second truth is that we are to use the talents and gifts that God give in service to others.

The talents God gives are of many different kinds: leadership, creativity, mechanical ability, housekeeping, encouragement, caring, etc. Maybe you can’t sing solos, but you can sing to the glory of God in worship. Maybe you can’t teach, but you can write encouraging letters or notes or send a card or make a telephone call to someone who needs to be lifted up. What are the abilities that you have? The talents? The gifts? The skills? Are you using them to the glory of God for the benefit of others? Whatever you have, God wants you to “use what you’ve got.”

All of our talents and abilities are to be used so that God is praised and so that His purpose is accomplished. With the Lord there is no such thing as unemployment or retirement. There is no time to be bored and lazy. There’s no time to sit back and let somebody else do it. Each of us has received gifts and talents to be part of God’s purpose in touching lives with His Gospel. If you have the gift of mercy, then use it to help the hurting and comfort the grieving. If you have the gift of leadership, use it to carry out plans and accomplish great things for God and the Church. If you have the gift of giving, then use it to support the Church and other special needs and causes.

What interests and skills and abilities has God given you to use or develop in your role as member of the body of Christ here in this congregation? Do you have the gift of hospitality? Are you good at visiting new people or shut-ins? Perhaps you are good at plumbing, electrical work, painting, ushering, praying, and helping. Maybe you are good at listening, organizing, teaching, singing, and writing. Perhaps you have good office skills and enjoy doing computer work or administration. Some of you may feel tired and burned out. Peter reminds us that God will provide the strength for us to serve. In fact, as I said earlier, for much service in the church and in the world it only takes a desire and God provides the rest.

When we think that we are unimportant or insignificant in the work He gives, or when we find ourselves neglecting the gifts He gives, or when we find ourselves using the gifts for our own benefit, we must repent and turn back to Jesus who forgives and restores.

And then hear the Gospel again – the Good News of just how much God thinks about you and how much He cares for you. He considered you so important that He laid down His very life for you. He redeemed you from the power of sin with His own precious blood. He will love you forever and one day He will come back to take you home with Him forever.

Jesus gave us a perfect example of serving. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life for a ransom payment for all of our sins (Matthew 20:28). He wasn’t interested in getting credit or in getting ahead. He wasn’t even thinking of what it would cost Him. He gave His life for His enemies and for His friends. He gave Himself for the sins of every man, woman, and child of the past, present, and future.

The concept of serving doesn’t come naturally. Our inborn desire is to serve ourselves and to take care of our own needs. Serving is contrary to what our society promotes: recognition, achievement, success, power, and control. In servanthood there is no glory, no spotlight, and no fame.

As we hear the Word of God in worship, Bible class, and in our devotions, we are encouraged and strengthened. As we receive the body and blood of Christ Jesus in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we are strengthened and empowered for serving. In His promises, He gives us strength and power to become fruitful stewards.

We are like trees planted next to streams of water (Psalm 1:3). We produce fruit. Whatever we do prospers because we do it to the glory of God, and He uses and blesses all of our efforts. Be a fruitful steward of God’s gifts and you will be a blessing to the Church, to the community, and to your family. God loves you with all that He has. Serve Him and one another with all you are and with all that you have.

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