Your greatest strength can be your biggest obstacle

Nick Charalambous

One of the great adventures in the Christian life is working with God to accomplish His purpose in the world.

God gives each of us spiritual gifts when we ask Jesus into our lives, and everyone’s spiritual gifts are designed to work together in the church for the maximum display of God’s glory.

When we serve in our gifting, it can be exhilarating. The work flows easily, others notice our God-given aptitude, and our passion for what we do remains high.

But the enemy can also use those good feelings to lead a believer to the same kind of thinking that we see in the world -- confusing a spiritual gift for a talent, or the door to a role or position.

Outside the church, who we are and our self-worth is always defined by what we do. The next time you’re at a party, just time how long it takes for someone to ask, “What do you do for a living?"

Paul, a church planter who wrote much of the New Testament, saw the danger of over-identifying with our gift or, worse, trading in our perceived gift for status or advancement in the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, he warns against competing for certain “desirable" gifts, because every spiritual gift matters.

3 Reasons Who We Are Matters More Than What We Do

1. Our identity comes from whom we belong to, not what we do. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Our work and accomplishments will serve as a snare, tempting us toward self-worship, unless we anchor our faith and our worth in Jesus, who alone accomplishes all things in us and through us.

2. As long as we’re comfortable and confident in our ability, we’ll never experience what it feels like to work in His ability. (1 Corinthians 15:10, Matthew 5:2-11).

God wants us to learn that victory comes by depending on Him in faith, not in our own abilities.

The Bible is filled with instances where God chooses to use only the broken, the weak, or those who lack aptitude to overcome a challenge. God wants us to learn that victory comes by depending on Him in faith, not in our own abilities.

3. God’s ultimate purpose is to purify his people so they reflect God’s majesty.

When our relationship with God is based on what we can accomplish for God, the importance of character and holiness is easily overlooked. God does not need our work. God desires for His people to be faithful, holy, and righteous, which comes from abiding in God and loving others. (Malachi 3:2-4, John 15:12-13)

For A Limited Time Only?

In some cases, a gift is given for a lifetime for service in particular offices in the church. But it is not unusual for believers’ gifts to change depending on someone’s season of ministry.

A gift is never meant to represent the sole purpose that God has for you or the sole way He will work through you in this world.

The Holy Spirit is always working through and in control of a spiritual gift. It can be given, and by implication, withdrawn, at any time as the Spirit wills. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

When we identify too readily with our gift or when our gift becomes the only frame through which we understand what God is doing in our lives, we have veered into a form of idolatry, which is rooted in pride, which shuts us off from the grace of God. Pride also creates division, rivalry, and all sorts of other sinful behaviors that harm the work of the church in the world.

Paul reminds himself and us that “… neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

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