“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8.
The apostle Paul gives this list within the larger context of practical duties that are recommended to the believers for the blessing of all and specifically for the body of Christ, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Verse 5
The seven gifts of grace on the above list come directly from Heaven’s storehouse. Generally we think of a gift as something for the person to whom it is given; parents love to give gifts to their children to make them happy, not really requiring that they share the gift with others. But in Acts 20:35, the apostle told the Ephesian elders when he met with them on his way to Jerusalem that Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. That being the case, the gifts being considered during this Week of Prayer are based on the great joy and gift of giving. They are distributed freely to individuals to advance God’s church on earth, which is encompassed and upheld by Heaven.
People in the world know about gifts. The findings of a survey of 80,000 business managers in more than 400 companies done by the Gallup Organization were published in a 2009 book titled First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. These authors found that the very first key that great managers used was “Select for Talent.” They knew that “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste your time trying to put in what can be left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” A person’s upbringing or education may have caused him to neglect and even abandon his greatest ability. The great manager seeks to discover every person’s strengths for the benefit of both the company and the blessing of the person himself or herself.
It is important to apply this concept within the church. Children and youth need to be helped to improve the talents God has given them. And then there is the new birth, when the Holy Spirit is given in fuller measure and gives a specific gift of grace to each person as surely as when one is born. All the gifts need to be seen for what they are and be properly “managed” within the church.
“The promise of the Spirit is not appreciated as it should be. Its fulfillment is not realized as it might be. It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 328.
The seven gifts of grace are related to the apostle’s list of the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 as well as to the gifts that Paul said Christ gave to men in Ephesians 4. They are all given for the same purpose–to advance the heavenly kingdom and to promote the well being of Christ’s body so all are served and are stronger together than they could ever be separately.
“Seek that ye may excel to the edifying
“All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised…. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves
fully for His working was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 327.
As we read and pray about the gifts of grace during this special week, we are grateful for this time of peace in which to consider these spiritual matters and meditate with joy on the heavenly gifts. But let us also think about them practically and, indeed, marvel at the infinite wisdom that is behind them. At the same time, it would be excellent for each person individually to look at his own gift and consider how best to use it for Christ. God is faithful and guides the local churches and governing structures so there is no lack of talent. It is up to each person to so “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” that the gifts reach their maximum potential under the moving of the Holy Spirit. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might:…” Deuteronomy 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10.
All church leaders and officers are exhorted to make these Readings for the Week of Prayer available to the members, especially those who are not always able to meet with the group, and to take time to pray with them. The Readings are also available on various Internet websites for download and printing, such as www.sda1844.org and www.sda1888.org (English, Spanish and French), www.asd1844.org (Spanish), and www.reform-adventisten.net (German), in addition to websites in many countries in other languages.
Sabbath, December 12, the final day of the Week of Prayer, is an annual day of fasting and prayer; all are encouraged to take part in the special meetings for study, fellowship, worship, prayer, and praise, knowing that all over the world the believers are united in mind and heart through the grace of Christ. The annual Week of Prayer offerings will be gathered for the General Conference; this fund is used for a broad spectrum of missionary outreach.
Please give generously with the realization that today is the best time to give.May the gifts of Christ have power in your individual life and the life of the church to the honor, glory, and praise of God the Father and Jesus Christ, to whom He has given all power.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference