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Diverse in Makeup, Equal in Value
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:14-26
Track 5 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series
Running time: 32 minutes, 15 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, October 3, 2004
4th sermon in a 17 part series
ďDiverse in Makeup, Equal in ValueĒ
ďBeing in Him Means Being His ChurchĒ
(1 Corinthians 12:14 - 26)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

The ushers will be bringing you little cards that look a bit like the one Iím holding. Make sure you accept it from them. Each of you will need one. There are pencils in the pew in front of you and Iím trusting that youíll figure out how to put the pencil to paper as the morning progresses.

Nestled back in the woods just off of one of the highways near the place I teach in Austria, a little town called Sodelbach [sic] thereís a former hunting lodge. It used to be owned by one of the great leaders of Austria. Now itís owned by a fella who actually lives on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. But he specializes in a particular furniture. I canít remember the name of the fella who made it, but sometime in the late 1700's this man was a master craftsman in Germany and this gentleman that I met a couple three years ago scourers Europe to try to find these pieces of furniture so that he can restore them and then he sells them in various places around the world.

I saw a table. I would guess it was probably 5 or 6 feet in diameter. It was odd in that it hinged on the pedestal. It was round and it stood on edge for storage. You laid it down flat when you wanted to use it. It was actually a series of wedges of the most beautiful wood I had ever seen. I suppose from the center out it didnít get any wider than maybe an inch and a half or two inches so every piece went from zero to maybe an inch and a half, each piece, inlaid, next to the other in a perfect circle, every grain perfectly aligned with the one next to it. It was absolutely, the most beautiful table I have every seen in my life. I have absolutely no idea what it would cost to buy it, although I did see the armoire standing next to it and it was $50,000.00. I figured the table was probably worth something. It was built by a master craftsman. It was his ďMASTERĒ piece.

I did some looking and discovered that one of the things weíve lost culturally, at least by enlarge, is this whole process of moving toward being the master of anything. You know, it used to be that you were an apprentice to a master and you learned from this master. And after you had fulfilled your apprenticeship for some time you became a journeyman. I learned the other day that a journeyman literally was one who was empowered to go on a journey. When you were an apprentice, you were stuck wherever you were in your particular apprenticeship. When you became a journeyman you could take your trade and you could travel with it, you could journey. But before you could move from the status of journeyman to master, you had to produce a masterpiece. That term was first used in 1605 to talk about that process whereby someone established their particular trade by demonstrating that they could produce this masterpiece, whatever it was. Whether it was woodworking or music or art or whatever it was that had to be produced.

I just want you to know that the person youíre sitting next to is, in fact, a masterpiece. One of my. . . . .one of the more interesting texts coming out of Ephesians. . . . .let me read it for you from the New Living Translation. Ephesians 2:10 says We are Godís masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. We are his masterpiece, that which makes God a master craftsman is that he has produced a masterpiece and youíre it. And heís produced you so that you can do that which he has designed you to do.

The text that weíve been looking at is 1 Corinthians 12. Iíd like to come to that and just select some texts out of that for us to think about this morning. When we think about being Godís masterpiece and doing that for which God has created us to do. Being this person and doing that which he has designed us for.

Iím going to be reading this from the New Living Translation because I think it words it well, although if youíre following along in your NIV youíll recognize these verses. I want to read 1 Corinthians 12:4ff and then Iím going to skip down a couple of verses. 1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of Spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A Spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice. To another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

1 Corinthians 12:18 But God made our bodies with many parts and he has put each part just where he wants it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now all of you together are Christís body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.

Thereís some really simple observations that come out of 1 Corinthians 12 which would be reaffirmed by the other texts that talk about gifted-ness in the New Testament. Those kinds of basic observations are these. Everybody who is a Christian has, at least a gift, if not multiple gifts. There is no such thing as an ungifted Christian. We are all in the best sense of the word, charismatic, which is where this word comes from. A gift of the Spirit. . . .a grace gift. You and I donít decide who gets what gifts and therefore we donít value particular gifts over other gifts because thatís not our job.

The Spirit, God, Christ, distributes those gifts as he chooses. The gifts are for the common good. You donít have a gift to bless you. You have a gift to bless the person around you. Theyíre for other peoples benefit, not for our own. Even though in the midst of exercising our gifts I do think we gain some benefit personally from that exercise. Theyíre not primarily for me. Theyíre for somebody else.

Those basic observations help us, I think, come to grips with trying to answer some fundamental questions. Weíve been talking now for the last three or four weeks about what it means to be a gifted person. That there is no inequality in the gifted-ness, and that weíre all the same because weíre the body of Christ and yet we are all different.

So what are these things we call gifts? Well, they are an act of the Spirit whereby someone is given some kind of special ability to do that which otherwise they would not be able to do. They are ďgraceĒ gifts. They are an act of Godís grace toward us that he allows us to be useful to him when otherwise, by our human nature, we probably wouldnít be all that useful to him. In some ways ďgraceĒ gifts are unique in the sense that there are people who could not have done what they do were it not for the fact that God somehow gifted them to do it. In that sense they are a bit different than what your natural abilities might be.

I find it extremely difficult to talk about Spiritual gifts because itís really hard to know whatís going on in somebody elseís life and so I typically, at risk of using my own self as an illustration, use myself as the illustration. I hate to speak in public. Absolutely hate it. Have always hated it. And will turn down the opportunity to speak in public any time anybody offers it, if what you want is me to speak in public. If you want me to preach, Iíll do that any time you want. Stop me on a sidewalk and Iíll be glad to do that, but I donít do public speaking. I donít like making announcements. The worst part of the service for me is the end of the service when I actually have to just make announcements. Cause I donít do that, thatís not who I am. In college they would ask me to introduce a speaker when they came. I hate to introduce speakers, because thatís public speaking. But ask me to preach and Iím fine. I have never been comfortable talking in front of people until I became a Christian. And then, and only when itís preaching, or teaching, am I comfortable. I donít know how to explain that except that it is a ďgraceĒ gift and outside of that I donít know any other way to try to get a handle on it.

But I donít think thatís the only way those things happen. I think there are people who have, and I will use this term advisedly, ďnatural giftsĒ. I think those are God-given also, by the way. I think your genetic code was not something you created. Itís something God created. But some people have these incredible natural gifts that are not Spiritual gifts because they are not God-devoted gifts. I read that this week and that struck me as a terribly significant way of saying it. They are God-given but not God-devoted.

Now forgive me, Iím going to step into an area about which I know very little, but I was in the British library, each of the last two summers and Iím walking around this display case and Iím looking at the handwritten notes of Handles Messiah and Iím thinking about this magnificent music that has been dedicated to God, well, since it was written and just past Handles Messiah you step into a different area. . .ah, well. . .itís less than a 90 degree turn and youíre facing Beetles music. Handles Messiah/ John Lennon. They tell me both great musicians and if you happen to be from my era, you probably would acknowledge that. If youíre older than I am youíd say, who were those weird people?

Whatís the difference between Handle and Lennon? It isnít in their ability. Itís in the for whom they did it. Itís the difference in God-given and God-devoted. And Handle took those natural gifts and let the Spirit enhance them and give them to God for his honor. See, some of you are just naturally good at what you do and the difference between you and the guy next to you wherever that happens to be, at work or someplace else, is that you have taken what you do and you have honored it to God and God has taken it and made it an act of his grace. And he has received it. They are often simply enhancements of what you do. What God has given you.

Well, it goes well beyond that of course. Part of it is the answer to the question, what do you do? If you were here on Wednesday evening, we were looking at Jeremiahís call in the first chapter of Jeremiah and Jeremiah has six verbs. There were six things that God called him to do. And I would simply point out thatís, I think, a fundamental question about your relationship to God when it comes to Spiritual gifts. It answers the question, what is it that God has called me to do? Whatís my verb, if you will. Now not everybody has primarily doing verbs. There are verbs that are being verbs. You said that you had a gift of faith. Thatís not a doing verb, thatís a being verb. And faith. . . . .by the way, thatís a dangerous gift because it means you can do and go places that some of the rest of us canít. Itís a missionary gift, dad. You want to be careful with that. She may end up in Africa or someplace.

Wisdom, knowledge, faith are things that enhance the things that we do. So there are being gifts. That which is hard to measure in the sense of an activity. And doing gifts, that which is very clear, teaching, prophesying, showing mercy, extending encouragement. . . . . . .those kinds of things.

What I want you to do with that little card, by the way, is if you think you know what your gifts are, just write them on there. . . . . .gift of prophecy, gift of knowledge, gift of mercy. By the way, there are multiple gifts and if I donít happen to mention yours, donít worry about it. There are four different gift lists in the New Testament. Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and 1Peter 4 and not one of them has an identical list of gifts in it. Every list is unique to that situation and I suspect thatís because there is no single list of gifts that somehow says this is everything God knows how to do. My suspicion is that the gift list in Romans is there because thatís the gift list that Rome needed. That the gift list in Corinth is because thatís the gifts that Corinth needed. And my guess is, that if God would one day write a book on Madison Park he would list a set of gifts and it would probably not look like any other particular set of gifts because it would be unique to us.

But if you think you are a teacher or you believe your gift is encouragement or you believe that your gift is service or helps, if you believe your gift is sweeping sidewalks, Iíd like you to write that down. Just identify whatever that happens to be.

Somebody asks me this question regularly in light of the fact that I preach here on weekends and I teach in Lincoln during the week. Then you must have other people on your staff to help carry out the stuff during the week that normally goes on. How many ministers do you have? And I answer, oh, about eight hundred. Because in the New Testament there is no special class of ministers with a capital M. Weíre all ministers and what makes us a minister is the verb that we use to describe us. And so there are ministers working back in the back who are babysitting, teaching, riding herd, corralling, chasing, attacking. . . . .no, nah, no, keeping track of. Everybody has a gift and everybody is a minister and everybody carries out that ministry as they sense God leading them to that particular place.

So, when I think about this whole area of gifted-ness, I find myself saying, well if all of thatís true, how do I know which ones are mine. Because if youíre like me, you may have been around the church for twenty years before you ever thought about what your gift was. Now there were things you were doing. You did the stuff that you did but you never quite put it in a category and said, I think this is the gift that God has given me. We just havenít used that language a lot in our churches and we probably should have. How do you know what they are.

Well, can I just offer you three or four real quick suggestions? There gonna seem really silly but they really are true. Ah, pray. Specifically ask God to answer this question. What is my gift? Ask him to help you discover the gift that you have, to show you. Study! Read your Bibles. Look at 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1Peter 4. Look at those texts. Evaluate those gift lists.

Ask yourself, which one of those begin to enhance who I am. Monitor your places of restlessness. One of the key ways of discovering what your gift is, is by looking at what makes you restless. I can look at some of you and say, if you werenít doing this, you would go nuts. Because Iíve seen you. You take a little break from the ministry that youíve been involved in and rather than that being helpful, though it may be for a little while, pretty soon you start getting antsy. I need to be doing this. Or when you look around and you see the church not doing something that you have this driving sense, Boy! We really ought to be doing that. Or you look in the community at large and you say, Boy! Some church ought to be doing. . . . . . Monitor that place of restlessness because it may be pointing directly back at your area of gifted-ness.

Listen! Listen primarily to the rest of the body of Christ because it is amazing to me how often people are able to identify in you, your gift when you canít see it yourself. Now I would suggest that you not listen to just one voice because somebody may be mistaken. But when you hear that voice come up over here, then over here, and then over here, all of these different places begin saying to you about the same kind of thing. You need to listen.

And, you need to try some things. It is almost impossible to do gift discovery if you donít ever get up and try something. I already told you I absolutely hate public speaking and if it was up to me I would never have stood in front of an audience in my entire life. But my preaching professor said, you will stand up and youíll talk. I donít like to flunk classes so I said okay.

I donít know how many people I have spoken to over the years who said, I would never have believed I could, but then somebody talked me into trying it and, the next they knew, they were hooked. Thatís often a sign of your gifted-ness.

Well, if you have them, uh. . . . . .what are they like? Rarely do they come alone, by the way. Usually they come in a cluster. Itís usually two, three, four gifts that kind of cluster around and mix themselves in with one another which is what differs us from other people.

You may have three people sitting there, each one of them gifted at teaching. But they may be paired up with a gift of pastoring in one person and a gift of evangelism in another person and those two teaching people will want to be in completely different kinds of settings. The person who is gifted at teaching and pastoring is gonna want to teach Christians. The person who is a teacher but also an evangelist is gonna say, I donít wanna teach in a Christian school. Put me out there in the public setting where I have access to those pagans. Itís that mix that makes each of us different. Some people are gifted leaders and other people are gifted organizers and those are not necessarily the same. So you may have three people on a staff with very similar mixes and one of the key differences will be one is an administrator, the other one a dreamer. So itís the clustering and the mixing as it comes together. And part of that then becomes determined by the other factors that come to play. And there are other issues that come into play here. Itís not just a matter of determining singularly what your gift is. Part of it is determining how that fits in with who you are.

I like the way that Saddleback Christian Church talks about it. They talk about your shape, your Spiritual gift, your heart, your ability, your personality and your experience. And those things all come together to shape us literally into who we are.

I am a lover of teaching. If you want to know what turns my motor on, just ask me on Tuesday morning at 8:00 oíclock or ask me on Wednesday night at 7:30. I love to teach! It is my passion. My daughter loves to teach. She thinks that teaching English is the next best thing to fresh baked bread. She even loves to teach junior high and high school kids. I canít imagine! Thereís only one thing you should do with junior high kids. Put them in a barrel. Feed them through the knot hole. Her gift is teaching. Her passion is teaching junior high and high school kids. My passion is teaching adults.

Now I could be absolutely miserable, even though I was doing that which I was passionate about if I were doing it in the wrong place. So you may have said, I think that God has called me to be a teacher and youíve gone back here and tried to teach in our third grade classroom and you had an absolutely miserable experience. And you said, okay, I must be wrong. I must not be a teacher. No the problem may be that youíre in the wrong place. Not that youíre doing the wrong thing. Youíre just doing with the wrong people.

So what are you passionate about? When you allow yourself to dream about what God might do with you, what do you see yourself doing? I only see myself doing one thing. Preaching and teaching! I just canít imagine doing anything else. Iíve tried to imagine doing other things. I just canít. I tried not doing that and I grew restless.

Your shape. . . . .what are you passionate about? Just on that little card. . . .just write there. I think Iím passionate could be kids, it could be ministry. It could be any number of things Iím passionate about. . . . .about music. Iím passionate about serving. Iím passionate about the lost. Iím passionate about encouraging people. Iím passionate about older people. What is it that stirs your motor? Causing people to serve? Causing people to worship. . . .enhancing peoples lives.

Well, we donít have time to go through all of that because thatís a whole class in and of itself. Itís called 301. We offer it around here and will be offering it right after the first of the year and we encourage you all to take it because it will help us talk about the abilities and the personalities and how your experience fits in to all of that because it really does matter where you are in your life cycle.

At one time I tried to teach people how to raise their children. And then I had some of my own.

So where do you use your gifts? Everywhere! See, some of you are gifted and shaped in such a way that the very best place for you to express that gifted-ness may be right here, helping us in our worship. Serving over in our childrenís programming. Teaching an adult class. But some of you may express that gifted-ness in a completely different way by taking it outside the realm of this body and working with the hospice program. Going out to call on shut-ins in the community. Going to the hospital and being a volunteer. Working with homeless families or helping abused children. The gifted-ness of your life may show up in lots of different places and be carried out in lots of different ways. And just because it doesnít happen to be within the confines of our building, doesnít mean that it isnít the carrying out of your gifted-ness.

Well, having said all of that, where would you see yourself in ministry? Thatís on that little card in front of you, by the way. I would perceive my gifts to be. . . . I think my passion is. . . . . . I think possibly the best way to express my ministry would be. . . . . Oh thereís another line on there that says, I donít have a clue.. . . . . .. But I would be willing and maybe what you would want to put in there is to meet with someone and talk about it or to take the 301 class as soon as itís offered, or to have some private tutoring or discussions or to simply commit yourself to pray and learn and discover.

So what do you do with this whole idea of gifted-ness? I mean after all, weíve been talking about this for two or three weeks. Youíd think we would try to do something with it.

Hereís the journey I think. The first step is discovery and if you havenít gone through that process, itís hard to go any further. And that may be the place you need to begin, is just simply really wrestling with discovering your gifts and your passions. Figuring out what those are and I wouldnít want anybody to be embarrassed who had said, Iíve been in church for thirty years and never thought about that. Thatís okay. Thatís true for lots of people.

But once youíve discovered those gifts, then to begin to develop them. One of the interesting things and I donít have the answer to this. I wish I had the theological answer to this question. If itís a Spiritual gift why does it require development? And I donít know the answer to that, because sometimes it doesnít. Sometimes it is just that supernatural thing that happens just because God wants it to happen.

Tony Almaschlecker [sic] was down in, I think it was Nicaragua, with some American teenagers. He looked down the street and noticed there were some girls talking to some local girls. . . . . . . . . . . . .conversation. They came back later and said that those same girls that we were talking to are planning on coming tomorrow. Is that okay and of course Tony said, sure, because it was after all, a mission trip. The next morning these girls knocked at the door and of course they spoke Spanish and Tony called for these American teenagers, not one of whom knows Spanish, and when they came to the door, these girls began to engage in a conversation and of course, these American kids couldnít understand a word they were saying. And yet, twelve hours earlier, standing on the street, they were talking in Spanish without an interpreter.

I donít know any explanation for that, except that when God needs to do those things, he does them. But that wouldnít excuse those girls then from coming back to the United States and saying, hey, well, maybe I should learn Spanish.

So there are processes of discovery and processes of development and of course that doesnít mean anything if youíve discovered it and developed it, if you havenít put it to use.

So the ultimate thing is, saying, Okay, hereís what my gift is. Hereís how I plan on exercising it. And that really is what weíre trying to drive at in all of this, is to ask you to say, How can I most effectively serve Christ through the use of the grace he has placed in me? It really is an offering back to God, this grace gift to be used nobly before God. There are a lot of ways you can use what God has given you but there is nothing more important than using it for him.

And weíre going to do something a little different today. We donít do this often but weíre going to do something a little different. You saw the worship team already start this process. Over here on this wall and over here on this wall there are figures of a man or a woman, a person and weíre gonna ask you to take those cards, if you would like, to commit this offering of your gifts to God and just simply stick Ďem on those figures. Itís a physical, symbolic way for you to say, I wanna offer what God has placed in me back to him as an act of worship and service.

So while weíre singing this particular song today, weíre gonna ask you just to go stick it up there and if you donít do it while we sing, thatís alright. Do it later. Youíve got the rest of the service to carry this out. But we would invite you to offer your gifts to God as an act of worship just like you would offer your offering or anything else.

And we recognize that you may be here and you may not be gifted because you donít yet have a personal relationship with Jesus. And Iím just going to stay up here and try not to interfere with your process of offering those gifts, but if you donít know Jesus and you want to talk about that, Iím going to be up here to meet you if you want to make that decision today.

Would you stand with me and letís start this process of simply giving this offering back to the Father. These are our gifts. We want to use them to enhance your kingdom.