1 Peter 4:10-11 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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.
I have dearly loved this passage for many years. It came into particularly sharp focus when I was interpreting for Don and Katie Fortune as they taught on Spiritual Gifts, and I have sought to communicate this truth to as many people as possible since then. To me the NIV takes the edge off of the first sentence here, but the Japanese is very sharp: “Because each one has been gifted.” There are no exceptions. I couldn’t begin to count all the people I’ve encountered who have insisted they weren’t gifted, but that’s a lie of the devil. We tend to think of gifting as something other people have, because things that come easily for us seem so ordinary. Other people might struggle at the very things that seem easy to us! Actually, this is an issue for people being paid fairly for their labors. Artistic things particularly fit into that category. One person might be able to create something beautiful with seemingly little effort, but unless you can do it with little effort yourself, you had better be willing to pay for it! The point here though, isn’t in being paid for your gifts but rather using them for the glory of the One who has given them to you. Some people are gifted at cooking. I have remarked many times that I feel sorry for men whose wives aren’t as gifted in that area as mine is. However, most of the time my wife isn’t paid for her cooking monetarily at all. Her reward – other than getting to eat good food herself – is in the joy and appreciation she sees in others who are delighting in the fruit of her labors. That’s why she particularly delights to cook for large groups, even though it’s a lot of work. Japan has just as many gifted people as any other nation, but Japanese culture has strongly discouraged individual pride. That makes it very difficult for the average Japanese to accept that they really are gifted in some way. I have preached on it many times, but they still tend to hold back and leave things to “professionals.” That can make operating a church pretty difficult! What Peter is saying here is, “You are gifted, so use that gifting to bless others for the glory of God.” That’s something that every believer in every nation needs to understand.
One problem for me has been that few things (other than sports) have seemed terribly difficult to me most of my life. I can’t remember my parents ever telling me, “That’s beyond you. Don’t try.” (Sadly, that’s not at all an unusual thing for Japanese parents to say to their children.) Because things have come easily to me, I haven’t been good at asking a fair price for my labors. I’m not particularly good at sales, and I’m particularly poor at selling my own work! I’m not to be anxious about that, but I’m to do everything, whether paid or unpaid, for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) It has been a problem in my ministry that I have tended to take the easy way out by doing things myself, since they didn’t seem too difficult to me, rather than training others to do them and giving them the joy and satisfaction of service. My recent episode of not being supposed to talk and being unable to sing was good training in that area! Right now Cathy feels pressure about some of the things she does for the church, but we don’t know whom to bring alongside to help her. We both need to grow in releasing things to others, so that all the gifts given to members of this church may be expressed, for the blessing of more and more people and for the glory of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I’ve been pretty slow to learn it! I do pray that all of Your provision for this church, in people and gifting and in every other way, may be recognized and applied, so that Your kingdom may come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!