“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” (I Peter 4:10).
In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another and showing hospitality. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to be good stewards of their spiritual gift(s).
The Apostle Peter now addresses the subject of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve. I learned that definition during my first year of Bible College over 40 years ago and I have never forgotten it.
Spiritual gifts are just that, gifts. The word gift (χάρισμα; charisma) is a gift which is freely and graciously given by one individual to another. Within the context of spiritual gifts, believers receive what God has given them. One pastor explains that spiritual gifts are “a gracious divine endowment: an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in a special manner in the individual (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Rom. 12:6, 8).”
Notice that the text says that God has given each believer a spiritual gift. I have heard several Christians over the years say that God didn’t give them a spiritual gift. According to I Peter 4:10, this is not true. It is also true that God may give believers more than one spiritual gift. However, according to I Peter 4:10 we can be confident that each believer has at least one spiritual gift, perhaps in a combination with other gifts uniquely blended together by God in that believer’s life.
The word “received” (λαμβάνω; lambano) indicates that each believer has actively received a spiritual gift at a particular point in time. The English translation of the verb “received” indicates that this action occurred in the past. This implies that God gives each believer a particular spiritual gift(s) as a singular event, as opposed to a continuous action. In other words, it appears that God gives us our spiritual gift(s) all at one time, and not continuously as the need requires. Also, a spiritual gift cannot be earned, achieved or pursued. It is received through the grace of God the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4, 7, 11, 18).
This does not mean, however, that each believer will know immediately and completely each and every spiritual gift they possess from God. Discovery of one’s spiritual gift(s) usually takes time and is accompanied by spiritual maturity.
Spiritual gifts are not for the purpose of personal pride and self-exaltation. I Peter 4:10 makes it very clear that spiritual gifts are for the purpose of serving one another. To serve (διακονέω; diakoneo) is to presently and actively minister to someone other than yourself. If each believer does this, and this is done within the context of a church, the church will have and evidence genuine spiritual health and well-being.
As churches and individual believers serve one another with their spiritual gifts, they evidence good stewardship. A steward (οἰκονόμος; oikonomos) means one who is in charge or who holds a responsibility. For example, an administrator or a manager of a household. Believers have a responsibility, before God and the church, to manage their spiritual gifts. They are to do so in a good (καλός; kalos) fitting and beautiful way.
To do so displays God’s diversified (ποικίλος; poikilos) or varied grace. In other words, no one believer is more important than any other believer. We all need one another (I Corinthians 12:12-26).
Ask God right now to reveal to you through His Word what your spiritual gift(s) may be. I encourage you to read Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:11-16. Additionally, ask your pastor or spiritual mentor what spiritual gift(s) they see evidenced in you. Begin serving where, when and how you can to see what it is that God gives you the ability and joy to accomplish for His glory and for the benefit of the church.
One final note. Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Using one’s spiritual gifts does not just occur when life is easy, but also when it is hard.
Soli deo Gloria!