The Purpose Of A Gift
I Corinthians 12:1-12
What’s the best gift you have ever received? Something tangible? Something non-tangible?
Who gave the best gift to you that you have ever received? Your spouse? A child? Parent? A friend? A relative?
When was the best gift given to you that you have
ever received? Was it for your birthday? Was it for your anniversary?
Was it for Christmas? Was it for no special occasion? A surprise?
What was the cost of the best gift ever given to you?
I can hear some of you thinking, “What do you
mean? No one charges for a gift or else it’s not a gift!” You are
right. A gift is something that someone gives you to enjoy . . . use
. . . cherish and it is absolutely FREE!
Paul expresses to the Corinthians that they have
been given a gift. That gift spans race and time and carries forward
to everyone who lives in now in 2004.
Your Best Gift? Spiritual Life. (v.1-3).
In his book Show Me the Way, Henri Nouwen wrote,
“The spiritual life is a gift. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who
lifts us up into the kingdom of God’s love. But to say that being
lifted up into the kingdom of love is a divine gift does not mean
that we wait passively until the gift is offered to us. Jesus tells
us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something
involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination. A
spiritual life requires human effort.”
This spiritual life is ushered in through the
death and resurrection of Jesus. His cross and empty tomb are
testimonies of a spirit that can receive life. The salvation He
offers is for anyone and everyone who will take his call to come to
him seriously. (John 6:47).
This spiritual life is for the present moment.
This call to live a spiritual life to its fullest is not some “pie in
the sky” religion that does nothing now. The exciting part of
Christianity is that this call to live life on this planet is to live
it with the living God. Jesus has not abandoned us to live fruitless,
frustrated lives, but to grab for all the gusto that life offers. We
do that by focusing on him and not on ourselves. We begin to ask, “God,
what can I do to help You today?” We have reversed it in our minds
and hearts. We say, “Ok, God, what is it that You can help me with
today?” Now is the day of salvation.
This spiritual life is also for the future. Our
time now is limited. Each of us has friends and relatives who have
died. We are keenly aware that physical life is counted in decades.
We are to do all we can to reach our, potential here, but the Bible
informs us that when this life is over it is just the beginning of
eternity. John 3:16 joyfully proclaims God’s love inside a human gives
the right to eternal life. When did this great gift begin in you?
Your Best Gift has a purpose! Service. (v.4-7).
Service with a focus – Jesus.
Service with a personal Testimony. We cannot have a second hand knowledge, but a first hand experience.
Service with a heart – Compassion.
William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
wrote, “They (servants) point beyond themselves to One who is at once
the pattern and the object of our faith, and bid us run the race that
is set before us, looking unto Jesus . . . I come as a learner, with
no policy to advocate, no plan already formed to follow. But I come
with one burning desire; it is that in all our activities sacred and
secular, ecclesiastical and social, we should help each other to fix
our eyes on Jesus, making him our only guide . . . pray for me
chiefly that I may never let go of the unseen hand of the Lord Jesus
and may live in daily fellowship with him. It is so that you will
most of all help me to help you. So shall we go forward together –
not without stumbling, not without weariness – but always toward the
loving welcome that awaits us in our Father’s home.” 1
Your Best Gift Gives a Great Satisfaction! Usefulness. (8-12).
Your usefulness draws the hurting and needy to God.
Your usefulness draws the lost to a God offering eternity to anyone.
Your usefulness draws people to camaraderie whose boundaries are endless!
Your usefulness draws YOU closer to God!
Someone wrote, “Almighty and eternal God, so draw
my heart to You, so guide my mind, so fill my imagination, so control
my will, that I may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and
then use me, I pray, as you will, and always to your glory, and the
welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Your free gift is waiting to be opened!
1 Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1983), 354.
2 Jan Karon, Patches of Godlight (New York: Penguin Group, 2001), n.p.number.
Sermon brief provided by Derl G. Keefer, Adult Ministries
Coordinator, Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO