Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Category: Love’s Place

The Greatest Commands & Your Giftedness

The Greatest Commands & Your Giftedness

We are all familiar with the confrontation between Jesus and a lawyer in Matthew 22:34-40.   The lawyer wanted to know what the greatest command was.   Jesus answered:  love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself (Irwin paraphrase).  Jesus said there was a greatest commandment as it relates to our God and one that relates to our fellow and sister human beings.

We usually quote Romans 13:8-10 to illustrate what it means to love our neighbor: love does no harm to its neighbor.  In other words, the spirit of the law of Christ is love and when we love our neighbors we do only good for them and obeying the Lord is a form of doing good towards our neighbor.  We also understand to love God is to obey Him (1 John 5:3).

But how do these greatest commands apply to the blessings we enjoy as Christians?   How do we express our love for the Lord and our neighbors with our spiritual gifts, passions and other blessings that God has richly bestowed on us?

We express our love for the Lord by using our gifts to further His Will on earth.   Long story made short, we use what God has entrusted to us to further His will in private life, in public life, in the life of the church, etc.   We do not exploit His gifts for selfish or evil purposes but for HIS good purposes.   God is glorified by such action and much good is accomplished and the church grows numerically and spiritually.   God is exalted by such love.

We express our love for our neighbors by using our gifts to bless them.   When I use my gift of compassion (for example) to serve my neighbor, he/she is blessed by my benevolent acts towards him/her.   When I use my gift of teaching for the good of my neighbor, he/she hears and hopefully obeys the gospel.   When I use my life experiences, life skills and education for the benefit of others it is a win-win situation:  God is gloried, I fulfill my God-given purpose and people are blessed.   Life is better for all involved.

We are stewards (managers) of all that God has given us.   Paul says that stewards are to be faithful (cf. 1 Cor.4:2).   We are faithful stewards when we love our God and love our neighbors [as we love ourselves] by using all the blessings the Lord has given us for the furtherance of His will on earth and as we bless the lives of those around us.   Such stewardship is true stewardship.   Our blessings are not only for our good.  They are also to be used for the extension of God’s kingdom and for the welfare of others in and out of the church.

Are you using God’s blessings to fulfill the Greatest Commands?   Are you a faithful steward of all that God has put into your care?

Travis Irwin

Involvement Minister, Athens, TN

Christian Love & Exercising One’s Gifts

love4Any of these gifts could be used to divide or strengthen the church—without Christian love, division may occur, with love, growth occurs.

 If you read the book of 1 Corinthians you will learn quickly that the Corinthian church had miraculous spiritual gifts and yet they lacked love (thus the purpose of chapter 13).  Because they lacked Christian love they had major problems.   Just because folks have spiritual gifts does not guarantee they will get along.  Spiritual gifts don’t automatically make a person spiritually mature.  The following gifts are non-miraculous.  However, if not used properly and in a spirit of love, there can be major problems in the church.  We might add that when personalities, without the Spirit’s love (Gal.5:22) are added to the mix, things can really go downhill fast.  When we preach and teach about gifts and personalities, we must add the most important ingredient:  love.

Consider how some gifts could be abused or misused today:

Leadership/Administration – some of the folks (with this gift) may not understand why (other) brethren can’t ‘get it together.’   After all, brethren need goals, structure and direction.  But love is patient and kind.

Pastor/Shepherding – some of these folks may get frustrated with brethren who will not do what is obviously necessary to grow as a Christian; they are always ‘chasing’ after weak/negligent folks and wanting to nurture them. Absenteeism drives them crazy.  But love never fails.

Teaching – these folks may get impatient with brethren who do not attend Bible class, will not study their lessons (before class) and will not make comments or ask questions in class.   But love is not self-centered, does not brag and believes the best.

Exhortation – these brethren may grow tired of always trying to encourage folks that need lots and lots of encouragement and they don’t understand why people just can’t grow spiritually without constant exhortation.   But love bears and hopes all things.

Evangelism – these brethren may not understand why every member of the church isn’t as enthused about lost souls as they are.   People are lost and these folks can tire of the church being self-centered and “unconcerned” for the lost.  Yet love never fails.  Love believes all things.

Compassion – some of these folks may at times be critical of other members who show little or no concern for the hungry, homeless and victimized of their town.   They cannot understand why others don’t spend great chunks of their time and money to help others who are unfortunate.   However, love is not easily angered.  Love is not jealous.

Service – the brothers and sisters with this gift may not always appreciate and or comprehend why some of their church family don’t volunteer to do the things they (those with the gift of service) do.   Why do people have to be asked to do the obvious? Right?   Again, love bears all things.

Giving – these generous souls sometimes do not understand why others don’t have more questions about where their money goes when they give it. They want others to give as generously as they do.    But love must be the motivation for everything.

Prophecy – some of these folks have little patience with worldliness in the church and at times they just want to ‘blast’ the church.    Love does not keep accounts of wrongs, it rejoices in the truth, it does not act unbecomingly, and it hopes all things.

We all understand that love does not compromise the truth.  Love does not enable or excuse poor behavior.   However, the truth must be spoken in love (cf. 2 Tim.2:24-26; Eph.4:15; 4:1-3; et al).    If we love each other in the same manner that Jesus loved us (cf. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:16-18), the church will be strong, united and she will grow.   We will use our gifts and we will use them properly to the glory of the One who gave them to us.

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN


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