Steve Taylor wrote a song called "I Want to be a Clone": So now I see the whole design/My church is an assembly line/The parts are there/I'm feeling fine/I want to be a clone. I've learned enough to stay afloat/But not so much I rock the boat/I'm glad they shoved it down my throat/I want to be a clone.
The song is satirical and I love satire, but the thing that we notice here is that God does not clone people, He's a God of variety. We tend to think let's save them and stick them in the Christian mold. Let's make them just like this. When God is a God of variety and he sees in verse seven: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. In verse six: There are diversities of activities but it's the same God that works all in all. The amplified Bible says: And there are distinctive varieties of operation of working to accomplish things but it's the same God who inspires and energizes them all in all. Herein is an area of misunderstanding for probably most of us because if I am assessing human nature correct, people who are different than we are or do things differently than we do, are labeled as 'weird.' We don't like change. Even though we say we like change and we like differences, we don't. And if someone does differently in some church differently than we do, someone's got to be wrong and it might as well be them. After all, it's probably not us. When in reality, no one could be wrong. It could be the same work just done in a different way.
Now again, there is a balance to this. It doesn't mean you can do anything you want to unscripturally and say, Well it doesn't matter, We're all serving the same Lord. But the thing about the Holy Spirit is that His fingerprint is on the person with the gift and although His fingerprint is on the person, the way it operates is so different. One person with the gift of teaching does it completely different than someone else. Someone with the gift of evangelism evangelizes in a totally different way than another person---same gift, different operations. Dr. Flynn, in a book, records a story of someone who imagined a carpenter's shop and the tools were holding a conference: Brother Hammer presided. Several suggested that he leave the meeting because he was too noisy. Replied the hammer, If I have to leave this shop then Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything. Brother Screw spoke up, Well if you want I'll leave but Brother Plane must leave too. All his work is on the surface. He has no depth. To this Brother Plane responded, Well then Brother Rule is going to have to withdraw also for he is measuring folks as though he were the only one who was right. Brother Rule then complained against Brother Sandpaper, You ought to leave too because you're so rough, always rubbing people the wrong way. In the middle of all this, in walk the Carpenter of Nazareth. He had arrived to start His day's work. Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the Gospel. He employed the hammer, the screw, the plane, ruler, sandpaper and all the other tools. After the day's work, when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked, Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.
We're all called to do the same thing, we have different niches we fit into, but it's all the same work. When we speak of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one thing I want to free us all from is "this is how this gift must operate---my way, any way else is weird." Fortunately, the Scripture gives guidelines on how gives are to be operated. But the guidelines for the most part are spiritual guidelines: the motivations and the attitudes of the heart. Now some of the gifts of the Spirit are delineated as to how they're to be used in a local body. For instance, if there's an assembly and people are waiting on the Lord and someone is to speak in a tongue, it is to be done by two people (at the most, three people) not the whole assembly, one at a time, each taking their time, each with an interpretation---or the whole thing is out of order. So there are delineations. But for the most part, there's a lot of latitude. For God places a gift on a person, places the same gift on another person, operates differently in both lives and does it with all the gifts.
One thing about a gift is you don't earn it. You don't work your way up into it. If God calls us in the body, sometimes just by being faithful in small things (in a small ministry), God will sometimes raise up that person to greater things---that's a Scriptural principal. But that is no guarantee. Just because you function in a certain way doesn't mean that you will be the head over some great evangelistic organization someday. Even as we are a body, the toe never says, Now if I'm a really good toe, do you think I could work my way up to a kneecap? No, you're going to be a toe. That's how you're going to function, that's where we need you to function, and that's where you're best, being a toe.
In verse 11, it says: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. Of course, Jesus Christ is the head of the body and the Holy Spirit I see, more or less, as the nervous system---conveying the messages from the brain (that master organ) to the rest of the parts of the body. Now the brain has an incredible capacity and our bodies were designed with such capacity so that we can do a number of times well and do them in a smooth, coordinated fashion. There's some 15 billion nerve units in your brain, each with a capacity of storing memory images and accumulating information that is filed and logged in your brain. In fact, everything that you've ever touched, heard, or seen is logged somewhere in the filing cabinet of your memory. You might not be able to recall it, that's always the big problem, how to search through the filing cabinet and take out the unit. 15 billion nerve units! On top of that, you have got thousands of these places of connection, units of connection, that control 600 muscles in your body. Plus you've got nerves that go back into your brain from your eyes, from all parts on your skin, from your ears, your nose. So that when you touch something it sends a message and it is recorded in your brain. If you touch something hot it records a message so that when your eyes see something, it remembers, it's logged into a little filing system that says, You know last time you touched that you burned your finger. So automatically, without even giving it a second thought, you just won't get near it. And it's amazing how the brain works. Immediately, my little boy kept wanting to touch a hot cup of coffee. The only way he's ever gonna learn it's hot is, guess how? That has got to be recorded in his brain in the least painful way. So I waited until the coffee was not too hot, but enough so that he would know it. And he kept wanting to grab it and touch it and I kept saying, Hot, Nathan, Hot! Well, he doesn't know what that is yet. So one day I let him grab it and he moved his hand away, but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted to see what was inside so he stuck his hand in it. Now he goes, Hot! Hot! Now whenever he sees a cup of coffee, it's Hot! That's right, son!
His brain has a little file, the nerves in the skin have sent a message back to the brain, the brain has recorded it, all of the senses were working. The central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system---it's starting to become a little smooth in the coordination and knowledge of what is hot and cold. Right now when he eats something it's still spastic. We're teaching him to use a spoon, he can stick it in his hand but then he gets the food up to his mouth and turns it over and it's all over his lap. And he'll try again and he'll stick it up by his eye---but he's getting better! The brain, the master organ, the control of the muscles is working a little bit better each time and he'll reach a point, folks, where he can have a smooth, coordinated motion. You don't think about it when you eat, do you? You don't think spoon to food, fork to mouth? Mmm.. good. It's automatic response. Our bodies were designed in such a way that we can apprehend life in a smooth, enjoyable, coordinated fashion.
That's the body of Christ---how it was intended to function. Jesus, the brain, the head. And through the agency of the Holy Spirit, through the giftedness, as the Spirit imparts gifts to members of the body, to one the gift of healing, to another the gift of prophecy. This guy's the toe, he's the finger, he's the lips, he's the pituitary gland, she's the eyes, and so forth. A smooth function. However, the problem in the church has been that it hasn't functioned smoothly, but in a jerky, spastic kind of a fashion that makes the church look like in invalid to the world. And so the world looks at the church fighting against each other, emphasizing its only little importance, members saying: we need more prophesy! No we need more healing! No, man, we need more tongues! All emphasizing their part, pushing, shoving, striving, division.
Thus, division has occurred and recurred and recurred throughout the history of the church. A church is formed, everything's going fine, but then someone says, I agree, except... on this emphasis. And so a church split develops. The church is pretty much like the first church, but it's a new emphasis. Everybody's happy but then somebody else has a different emphasis and they go out and start something and we have a different emphasis. And on and on and on. You can thank God that your body, as to its physiological function, does not operate like the church of Jesus Christ on the earth. You would be a mess! Your leg would want to go one direction, your other leg would say, No I don't want to go that direction, I think I want to go this direction. Have you ever tried to walk after you've sat on your leg and it's asleep? Very difficult to get around. What if your pituitary gland wasn't satisfied with its station, if it could talk, if it could have those kind of feelings and it said, I hate being so locked up in the brain. I hate being a secretionary gland, I don't like being confined by this bony structure, I want freedom---I want to be a lung! Or what if your lung wanted more exposure? What if your lung said, Nobody sees me, I'm just sucking wind all the time, but how many people notice your lungs? If I went up to preach and my foot said, I'm not going! Man, you have drug me around for years and everywhere you want to go I go, but nobody sees me, everybody sees your lips, your eyes, your hair. I want exposure! Why don't you take your shoe off tonight? Let them see me a little bit? Let them get a good view of me.
Those are all fun analogies, but I'll tell you there's a lot of truth if you truth if you would take that analogy and swap it with the church. That's why it's so important that we can learn, building upon the foundation, our gifts and callings. So that we will not, as Paul told Timothy, neglect the gift that is in us---and it is in us. There's a lot of gifted people, filled with the Spirit and gifted whose gift like the talents are buried and they're not being used. And the church is suffering because of that. But when there is a discovery, an apprehension, tapping into the power of God and beginning by faith to exercise the gifts that God has called us to, life is exciting.
I have a hunch that most Christians desire to do the will of God and desire to leave a ho-hum life and tap into something more exciting, even more supernatural, and see the power of God flow through their lives. For some that's not true; some are just content being couch potatoes in the body, just liking to receive and not get involved. But I think the normal Christian wants to involve himself or herself and so there is a desire to know your gift and operate it and what they are and how they function and how will I know if I have it.
In verse 13, Paul says: For by one Spirit we were all baptized (or immersed) into one body---whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free---and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye (I want you to picture this visually, Paul's analogy) where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (Ears are great, but you can't smell with them.) Verse 18 is so important: But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. Just as He pleased. Very important---He is the one directing the gifts and doling them out to people, giving the person a gift and the development of a gift, although there needs to be a cooperation so we develop our gift, and the context in which that gift is used. He's doing it.
There's a temptation for us to become dissatisfied and to look at someone's ministry and think, I want to do that, that looks exciting! Example: Let's say I'm a musician. I think, Look at that group, I want to travel around and sing for Jesus, I want to play my instrument for the Lord. But ask yourself a fundamental question, do you have the gift of evangelism? Or perhaps the gift of exhortation? Or you're thinking, I want to go out and start a church, that sounds good. Do you have the gift of teaching? Those are fundamental questions that will determine the effectiveness of our lives. Because there's a lot of people after doing things for the Lord, get tired and frustrated to the point of burnout, leaving this question: where do I fit in the body? I've tried this, I've wanted to do it, it didn't work. Where do I fit? And they feel that way because they've tried to create a place for themselves in the body, rather than being placed in a position by the Lord in the body.
I've met a lot of burnt-out folks who have served the Lord, and that's either because they're in the wrong place or they're in the right place and they're being attacked by the enemy and they're doing the right thing in the wrong way. You can be doing what God wants you to do but you can be doing it according to the energy of the flesh instead of the operation of the Spirit. You can begin in the Spirit and function in the flesh. God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
Actually, to be discontented with the gift that God has given you is to be critical of the way the Holy Spirit runs His operation. If He indeed is the one who calls you, if He indeed is the one who lifts you up, if He indeed is the one who is the nervous system conveying to the different members their function of the body and you're functioning somehow and you're dissatisfied, I guess He's not doing a good job, is He? We can cop out and say, Nobody's noticed my great gifts. I'm so gifted, I just can't understand why people don't realize what I realize. And I'm just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps not involved, just wanting to be discovered. Or perhaps with this attitude: Lord, I want to serve You. So I'm just gonna hang out and not do anything because Lord, You've got my phone number. And You can speak to me whenever You want and I'll just go anywhere You want me to go. That's the favorite Christian phrase, isn't it? What do you want to do? Oh, whatever the Lord wants. Well, what do you think that is? I don't know but I want to serve the Lord in whatever capacity, it doesn't matter. That's beautiful. Would to God that we all served the Lord that way.
There comes a time when we need to begin to step out. Especially if we have a hunch, not presumptuously, but just a little bit of faith at a time and look for some of the confirmations that would tell us, This is your gift. Look at verse 7 very closely, because this is the purpose for spiritual gifts, this is fundamental: But the manifestation (or the showing forth or the evidence) of the Spirit is given to each one. Do you fit in that category? Brother, sister, each one? I think you're part of 'each one.' The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. The Phillip's translation puts it a little more clearly: Each man is given his gift by the Spirit that he may use it for the common good. God gives gifts, all of the gifts of the Spirit, to different members of His body---not so we can go on our own cool spiritual high, our spiritual trip, getting blessed out of our gourd in a spiritual hideaway. It is given so that I can build you up with my gift, you can build me up with your gift, and we can be building or edifying the kingdom together. With perhaps one exception in a sense, and that would be the gift of tongues. For he that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself, or builds himself up (1 Corinthians 14.) Unless there is interpretation for the mutual building up of the body.
Because Paul uses this analogy over and over again, of us being the body of Christ and different members and different organs, with the head Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is the nervous system. Because that analogy is used so much, we must see that God gives us gifts so that we can get the job done. Really does it matter how famous we were or how greatly we were used, as much as we were used where God wanted us to be used and it was effective and the kingdom of God was furthered and people came to know the Lord and the church was built up? I mean the bottom line, does it really matter how visible we are? Whether we are an eye or a pituitary, whether we are a nose or a kneecap, whether we are a face or a big toe locked away that's not so visible, working in tough conditions? It doesn't really matter as long as the job's getting done.
If I want to eat something, that's the job---my body needs to perform a function. It's early in the morning, the messages that are being sent out to me I've got to fulfill a function, I've got to eat. Now there's a lot of members besides my mouth that are involved. The brain sends messages out because it's recorded in this filing system that there is storage of food in a unit called a refrigerator. And so a message goes from the brain directly down to all the muscles in my legs and feet, directing me to walk, take steps, toward the refrigerator and then to stop. And then a message goes down to my arm that says, Pull and open and grab the food, cook it. And all the same time, my eyes are being used, my noise is being used to further my appetite as the food is being cooked. And finally my hand is used with my eye coordination, it goes into my mouth, I chew it, I swallow it, the muscles are being used to bring the food from the upper gullet down through the esophagus into the stomach, through the alimentary canal to be nourished and built up, have energy and go out and do other things.
All of the body is essentially working together to perform one function. But the connections need to be made. What if one connection, one synapse, one nerve unit connection isn't being made? And the brain says, Walk to the refrigerator, and my legs won't move. Or if I don't have good hand-eye coordination and stick the fork in my cheek. You see, one function is dependent upon the unity and the reception, the hearing of all of the members working together, listening to the brain. That's why the body is impaired. Because we want to magnify ourself. By the way, when one member of my human body begins to be built up more and becomes selfish and have rapid cellular growth all of itself, you know what that's called? Cancer. That's what happens to the church. The emphasis of one thing over another causes cancer instead of a balance of working together.
The principal here is that gifts are not the goal. Please remember this. You who are prone toward the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which we all should be desiring the best gifts. But remember something, gifts are not the goal, they are the gateway of service. The other gateway of edification. It's the gifts so that service can be accomplished and we can all be built up. If we see it any other way, we're missing the boat. Gifts are not the goal---they're the gateway to service.
I once heard a story of how in Argentina there is a compulsory military service, a draft---you have to serve. So everyone showed up at the induction center and one guy was there and he had no arms. And he said, I don't understand why I'd have to serve in the army, look how could I function, I don't have any arms, I don't understand why you'd make me join. They said, You're in, it's the law, we can use you. He's thinking, How can they use me? What good am I? During basic training the commanding officer instructed the man with no arms, he said, You see the guy up on the hill pumping water into the bucket? I want you to go up there and tell him when the bucket is full---he's blind. You can be his eyes. He can be your arms in pumping the water and we'll get somebody else to carry it down the hill. No matter how insignificant, no matter what you don't have, you've got something for all of us. Of course this is the message we bring out to the church quite often---asking you, admonishing you, encouraging you, reproving you even, to become involved. To become involved in a local body for the mutual nourishing one of another.
There is a story of a man who had a dream: A man broke his left arm. One night he couldn't sleep and he imagined a dialogue between his right and left hand. The right hand said, Left hand you're not missed! Everybody's glad that it was you that was broken and not me! You're not very important! And the left hand said, Well how are you so superior? Said the right hand, Why my owner cannot write a letter without me! And the left answered, But who holds the paper on which he writes? Said the right hand, Well who wields the hammer? Said the left, Who holds the nail that the hammer hits? Asked the right hand, Who guides the plane when the carpenter smoothes a board? Retorted the left hand, Who steadies the board? Said the right hand, When our owner walks down the street and lifts his hand to greet someone, which of us does it? Replied the left, Who holds his briefcase while he does it? Then the left continued, Let me ask you a question- when our owner shaved yesterday he used you but his face is cut because I wasn't there to help. Also our owner's watch has stopped. Do you know why? Because you may do the winding, but if I'm not there to hold the watch, the watch won't get wound. You cannot take money out of the wallet because I'm not there to hold it. The master can do very few things without me.
To everyone God has given gifts as He wills. Look at verse 8-11, we have a list of these gifts in chapter 12: For to one is given the word of wisdom (or the message of wisdom) through the Spirit, to another the word (or the message) of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
Now people have looked at this verse and have come up with nine gifts of the Spirit corresponding to nine (as they say), nine fruits of the Spirit. We've already covered that there's one fruit and many manifestations. But if you look at verse 28, there's an addition: And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
Some have said that there's nine gifts, some have said that there's twelve gifts, some have said there's 22 gifts, someone said that there's 19 gifts, 29 gifts... I don't know how many gifts there are. I know that God gives many gifts and there's different ways of operating them. I think some of the things that I have seen called gifts are stretching the Scriptural definition in use of the gift. Some people say martyrdom is a gift, missionary is a gift, singleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:7: But to each one of us (each one of us) grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men. Now this, "He ascended"---what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (that's one word---pastor/teacher), for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (or mature or complete, well-rounded) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
My job is to use my gift to feed (as a pastor/teacher) the flock of God so they can be built up to help all of you do the work of the ministry, whatever particular area of ministry God called you to do. I'm simply hear to come and offer support, offer teaching, offer fuel for you to do your ministry. This is a ministry---but it doesn't begin and end here. You also are to minister to one another and my job is to be a catalyst for your ministry. That's one of the reasons we require people that work in Sunday school or worship where they have to be away to attend a midweek study because if they're working during Sunday morning service, they have to be getting fed so that their ministry can continue and be strengthened and can be fueled. Our goal is the end of verse 13: a perfect (complete, mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
I look back at my life and take inventory of it several times. I look back and see where I have come from, I look to see how much I've grown and I'll tell you when I see all that God has done in my life, I'm thrilled. He's done a lot of changes, changed a lot of my attitudes, a lot of my actions, a lot of my ways of thinking. But when I look back, lest I stop there and become cocky, I consider this verse and look ahead to what God wants me to become. The stature, the fullness of Christ. He wants me to be like Jesus. So I look back and I go, Alright, I have come and grown and then I look at Jesus and see what He wants me to be and I go, Oh, man, Lord I have a long way to go, I need to really apply myself and let Your Spirit work in me. Lest I reach a plateau and begin a stale, stagnant Christian. You know, one of my favorite places and of course a place where I get a lot of spiritual blessing is Disneyland. And every time I go there, one of my favorite things to do is to go to the FrontierLand and they have these ducks that go by and you can get a gun and pick them off. I'm always looking for the ducks that aren't moving too fast, the ducks who just cruise real slow, sometimes they even stop. The ones that are going fast, you've got to be a sharp shooter. The ones that are just barely crawling along, you can be me and still hit them. And I'll look for them because as I see them going slow or stopping---BOOM! Easy to pick off!
So it is with us. When we reach a plateau and we stop and we consider ourself just Oh So Cool and So Spiritual, Satan will come and try to pick you off so quick. Because pride sets in. Instead of saying, I'm growing to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. See, it's not enough to say, Look, I'm not gonna be convicted, this study isn't for me, it's for all those other people who aren't doing anything. Why do I need to apply it? Or as we nudge our spouses. But the Holy Spirit is nudging us many times saying, I want your life, I want you involved, because I want to make you to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. How many have reached that? You haven't---you still have a long way to grow and so do I. However, this verse is exciting to me because when I want to see the eventual end-product of what God is making out of my life I look at this verse, too. I don't despair and think it's too much, I think, Lord, I'm going to make it someday. On this earth I am progressing in my walk with the Lord and when the Lord comes back and I'm face-to-Face---awesome, can't wait. That's my goal: the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Romans 12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (The smartest thing you can do.) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one (there it is again, to each one of us) a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (I belong to you, you belong to me.) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
The whole context here is us being used with our bodies, our physical body, as a vessel of God in the body of Christ. I call it the graduation chapter because he says, I beseech you therefore, brethren. You would have to get the whole of Romans to understand this, but Paul has been very doctrinal up to this point, speaking about salvation, being cleansed by the blood, propitiation, justification, sanctification, all of the doctrinal things that you understand who you are in Christ. Then he says, Therefore because of all of these things that I've told you about in these last eleven chapters, because you're cleansed, because you're sanctified, because you're going to be glorified, on and on and on---live like it. Live like you're cleansed, live like you're justified, live like you're being sanctified, live like you have a home in heaven and one day you'll be glorified, live what you know in your head now to be true. You've graduated, put it on and live it.
One of the principals here is this: service. Effective service for God flows out of the knowledge of our being forgiven and our being given God's mercy and grace. The realization that we've been forgiven. God's been merciful to me, God's been gracious to me, God saved me, God's changing me. Therefore, brethren, I beg of you please, he is saying (I beseech you), by the mercies of God, in view of all that God has done through His mercy, present your body to God. That is the first step to knowing where you function. Present your body to God. Present is a technical term---it's a technical term referring to a Levitical sacrifice from the Old Testament, a dead animal. You will bring an animal in your hands to the priest where it will be slain and it's blood will atone for your sins. But the word means, I want you to once and for all present your body to God. Lord, here's my body: I have hands, I want to work for You; I have legs, I want to travel for You; I have a mouth, I want to speak for You; I have ears, I want to listen for Your voice, what are You saying to the church and to the world? Lord, my body is Yours---use it. I want to spend and be spent for the kingdom. My body belongs to You. Once and for all.
We oftentimes do the reverse. We do it backwards. Lord, I want to be used by You, however, I would like to know where You're going to call me before I totally surrender to You. Because You might send me to a place I don't want to go. You might tell me to do something that I don't want to do and I'm scared that You might have me do something really weird. So tell me what it is first and once I agree, of course, I'll gladly surrender all. That's backwards: you come, no conditions, no strings, you plop your whole body down before the Lord and you say, Here it is, it's Yours, You bought it with a price, I don't own it anymore, it belongs to You. No conditions, Lord.
One thing I've discovered about God is that no matter what He calls you to do, through the preparation process, through the molding, you're going to come to a place that you're going to want to do it. He'll give you a desire to do it. As hard as it might seem to do, not that there won't be an element of sacrifice, but as you take that step of obedience it's like, I know this is pleasing to the Lord, I enjoy doing this because it's pleasing God. With that comes the ability to do it. Present your body once and for all.
Next, verse two: And do not be conformed to this world (stop trying to pattern yourself after the world). For this matter, stop trying to pattern yourself after other Christians and their gifts---be you! You have a gift that is unique, like a snowflake it's different one from another. Be you. Let God, the Holy Spirit, operate in your life uniquely than He does in someone else. Don't pattern yourself after anybody else, pattern yourself after the way God wants you to be patterned. Do not be conformed to this world, but be changed, totally transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And then in verse three it's simply a warning before he speaks and delineates all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly (which is correctly), as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Here's a warning: some of you will find a gift God has given you, you'll discover your gift, your part of the body, and as you function in that, some of you are going to be used very mightily of the Lord. And that is dangerous. That's why there's a warning in verse three that you don't think of yourself more highly than you ought to. Because here's the reason: when God starts flowing through an individual in a mighty way and the Holy Spirit is upon he or she, some people begin to look to that person as the source rather than the instrument. Example: let's say someone's been blind all of their lives and they say would you pray for my friend who's been blind. And they pray in Jesus' name. Now if that person gets healed and he opens his eyes, who's the first one he or she is gonna see after being blind all their lives---you. And all that person knows is that you laid your hands on them and they're gonna go, Wow! You! You're powerful! You're spiritual! You are a mighty man of God! The danger is being deceived and believing all of the things they just told you is true.
God is moving mightily through you not because you are such a fabulous person or God saw this potential deep down in you and was just waiting to fan the flame of your giftedness and you are a special pick for the kingdom and He was just waiting for you. No! The reason, the truth of the matter is that you're being used and God is working in your life because God wanted to demonstrate the greatness of His grace and He decided you would be one of the best examples. For God has chosen the foolish things, the things that are not, the things that are weak. That's why you better not think of yourself more highly than you ought to. You think, Well I'm somebody special, they don't recognize my gift. God will break you. And you'll be happy that He has.
Think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Don't neglect the gift that is in you. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, God is not gonna say: Well how famous was your ministry? How many radio programs were you on? How many cities did you cover, how many people got saved every Sunday morning? You know what He's going to say? How faithful were you with the gift I loaned to you? Did you bury it? I wonder if the world isn't evangelized because many Christians haven't responded to the call of God and the gift that God has given them to use and edify the body of Christ so that we become a powerful force gaining momentum, making an impact.
Again, I love the analogy that Bud Wilkinson, football coach of University of Oklahoma, said: My definition of football is 22 men on the field who desperately need rest and 50,000 people in the grandstands who desperately need exercise. That was his definition of football. Everybody sits around and watches and they need the exercise! They're out there just eating popcorn and hotdogs and cheering them on, and the guys on the field need a vacation. And one person said, That's like the church. A few people are doing it all when all of us need to be doing it together. When you find your gift, give it your best. Pour out your life for the Lord. Pour it on like an athlete. Don't be a convenient believer.
Queen Mary used to visit Scotland, I heard, and as she was there she was able to walk through the countryside alone because everyone admired her and loved her so much. She was walking, the clouds were starting to roll in over the hills, it was becoming dark and she felt raindrops. She went to a nearby cottage, knocked on the door and asked to borrow an umbrella. The woman at the house didn't know who it was. And although the woman had a new umbrella, she gave the queen her old umbrella that leaked a little bit. She didn't want to give her the new one, she didn't know it was the queen. The next day, a guard was standing at her door and said, Here's your umbrella back, the Queen of Scotland just wants to say thank you very much for the use of your umbrella. And the lady was stunned and she began to weep saying, If I knew it was the queen I would have given her my best umbrella!
To stand before the seat of Christ and hear, Well done good and faithful servant, you've been faithful over a few things, enter into the joy of your Lord. That's all that it's about.