This is the last in our series about spiritual gifts and here we discover that spiritual gifts are a means for our obedience.
Scripture is clear that we need to desire spiritual gifts but we are also to use our gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ. Paul commands us to desire spiritual gifts because the church needs this edification.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
This verse is in the imperative and it is a command. The use of these spiritual gifts is not just an option but it is a matter of obedience. Jesus gave a parable that illustrates the fact that the use of God’s gifts is imperative and we will be called to account for not using our gifts.
Matthew 25:14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
Matthew 25:15 “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
Matthew 25:16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.
Matthew 25:17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
Matthew 25:18 “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25:19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them.
Matthew 25:20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’
Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’
Mat 25:23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
Matthew 25:26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Matthew 25:28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
Matthew 25:29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
Matthew25:30 “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As women we desire to use the gifts that God has given us for the benefit and edification of the body of Christ just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 14. There are those who stand at the door of the assembly and refuse to let women’s gifts in. They see themselves as doorkeepers and as official spiritual gift police whose position it is to stop women’s gifts from being used for the edification of men. But we desire to be faithful to God and when man comes against what God has ordained, we must obey God rather than man.
It was on this day 490 years ago that a Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences” on the Door of Wittenberg Castle. October 31 became known as Reformation Day because Martin Luther refused to accept man’s tradition over the bible. Martin Luther’s own words ring loud and clear against man’s imposition of laws and tradition that are not found in scripture. He stood strong as he said:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.
Pastor Wade Burleson has written a wonderful word of encouragement on this Reformation Day that I would like to quote:
Have a great Reformation Day, and may you and I work toward reform in our churches and our convention that leads to our collective conscience held captive to the word of God – and nothing else. Man’s rules, religious regulations or denominational traditions that pretend to be on par with Scripture and lead anyone away from faith in Christ alone, trust in Scripture alone, and rest in God’s grace alone are to be resisted with as much energy as Luther resisted indulgences. Here we stand, we can do no other.
Martin Luther faced death as he stood against the religious rulers of that day. Today women do not face death but many of them face name-calling, prejudice and character assassination merely because they chose to be obedient to Christ with their God-given gifts. But no name-calling or character assassination will ever come close to stopping us from ministering in Jesus name when it is the Master who has commanded us to be obedient.
As Luther stood strong against the tradition of men, I too want to stand strong in encouraging the use of women’s gifts that God has commanded all of us Christian woman to use for the benefit of the entire body of Christ. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason that women are not allowed to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of men, and not by Popes, church councils or men who have set themselves against women’s gifts used for the edification of men, but who have also so often contradicted themselves in their man-made rules about what women can and cannot do, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.