Honoring God’s Gift of Ministry
by Sally Valleskey
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Have you received any lately? Some gifts are quite creative, some are thoughtful “just for you,” and some are meaningful because of how you can share them with others.
Did you know the church receives gifts?
Oh yes, there are envelopes and an offering plate, there’s online giving, and there are larger estate planning gifts. These are very important gifts to the church, but pulling back to take in a broader view, we see an array of gifts from a different perspective.
Paul gives us insight into this broader perspective in his letter to the Ephesians—particularly in Ephesians 4:11-16. Right away in verse 11, we see a short list of some of the gifts given to the church—a short list but one with a large impact. This gift is a package of public ministry positions that God provides for equipping his church. The list names apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers.
Gifts indicate a giver, so let’s do some source tracing. Where do these gifts to the church come from? The answer is quite clear right there in verse 11. Christ himself is the giver (“So Christ himself gave…”). Backing up to verse 10, we read that this is the very one who fills the whole universe. (“He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.”) Quite a gift giver! Of course, the whole of Scripture reveals to us who God is as the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Here is one whose gifts merit our highest regard and honor. We join the psalmist who proclaims “How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!” (Psalm 47:2).
Of course, the whole of Scripture reveals to us who God is as the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Here is one whose gifts merit our highest regard and honor.
God packages his gifts with a plan. The leadership list is just what is needed to carry out the mission of the church, namely, nurture and outreach (Matthew 28:19, Isaiah 54:2) grounded in the message of law and gospel. Critical to the plan is that those called to the leadership positions are not to do the work alone. Christ himself as the head of the church establishes an equipping process for his people, and through this process God’s people are engaged in ministry.
What else is packed into this section of the letter to the Ephesians? God’s living, breathing, creative ministry plan calls for action and outcomes. Look at all the words calling us to ministry! Building, growing, speaking, loving, working! The goal is to reach unity, maturity, and stability—all fueled by Christ’s love. Of course, the final goal will not be realized until we’re given the ultimate gift of eternal salvation in heaven. This earthly ministry package will have its corners bruised, its contents broken, and its route disrupted…and yet, our God of grace and forgiveness remains the head of the church. He will bring about for his people that they attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (verse 13).
This earthly ministry package will have its corners bruised, its contents broken, and its route disrupted…and yet, our God of grace and forgiveness remains the head of the church. He will bring about for his people that they attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Take time to recognize the gifts, the Giver, the purpose, the outcome, and the blessings that constitute God’s ministry plan for the church. The more we focus on God’s plan, the more we will be led to honor those he calls into the various positions of leadership. We’re held together to work together—uniquely called, but all equipped with the same goal and purpose in mind.
With this biblical foundation in place, in the sequel to this devotion we will see how Christ also makes us a part of his gift by equipping us for service.
For Further Reflection
Read Ephesians 4:1-6. (It’s so important to read Scripture in its context.) Meditate on or write about how the unity God has already given us in Christ works toward fulfilling the ministry plan described in 4:7-13.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen (Revelation 1:5b-6).
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