Now there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are differences of operation, but it is the same God who operates all things in all.”
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
These are three very interesting verses. In these three verses, it mentions a Spirit, it mentions the Lord, and it mentions God. So actually, it mentions the Triune God. And the Triune God is dispensing Himself for the Body life in three ways: the Spirit gives us the gifts, the Lord produces the ministry, and God operates for His economy.
Receiving the Gift
You see here, in these three simple verses, it tells us how to have a healthy church life. It doesn’t go in this way: I get promoted, I get promoted, I get promoted. No! It goes in this way: You first have to realize, are you born again? Are you born again? Okay, so you have the Spirit, don’t you? When the Spirit came into you, do you know what you received? You received a gift.
The Diversity of Gifts
Every one of us is gifted. No one can say, “I’m useless; I’m useless.” This is religious humility. Everyone should be so bold as to say: “Praise the Lord! I have the Spirit! I am gifted!” Everyone should have this kind of boldness. I am a gifted brother in the recovery — but not to coordinate toilet paper; I have some gift because I do have the Spirit. There are “differences of gifts, but the same Spirit.” This very Spirit which comes to you, and which comes to me, and which comes to many brothers and sisters, immediately produces all kinds of gifts. And not all the gifts are alike.
I tell you, you have to say: praise the Lord, from the very beginning, the Lord never put us in that kind of standard. From the very beginning, the Spirit came in. When the Spirit comes in, everyone becomes gifted. No one should say: I’m not gifted. Even if you can say, “I’m not gifted,” that proves you are gifted. Why? Because everyone’s gifted! Everyone receives a gift from the Lord. Maybe even more than one gift from the Lord. Everyone, when they are born again, becomes gifted.
Cultivating the Gift into a Ministry
Practicing the Gift
Let’s say that my function is to pray. I should say, “So what if all the young people are on the front line? So what if all the brothers are where the action is, and all these other brothers know how to offer money, how to arrange the chairs, and I don’t know anything about these. I do know one thing: I know how to kneel down. I know how to pray.” When I pray, I pray for the young people. I pray for the older ones. I pray for the church. I pray for the gospel. I pray for the recovery. I continue to pray and after just two or three years under the Lordship, prayer will become my ministry.
Formerly, it was just a practice of prayer because I just prayed. Then after two or three years, prayer becomes my ministry. I walk into the meeting, I look around, and immediately I know so-and-so needs intercession. Because that is my ministry. Immediately I can discern that if I don’t pray for the church, next month the church will be in trouble.
Ministry for the Body
Once I have a ministry, I become a real help to the body. I am not in any position — I’m still a “little potato.” I’m still told to go around, to clean the restroom, to take care of the toilet paper. But at the same time, my prayer becomes such a life-imparting thing to the church. When I pray for the saints, the saints become strong. When I pray for the saints, the saints are spiritual. When I pray for the church, the church is prevailing. Why? Because my prayer is not religious. It’s under the Lordship. I was dealt with by the Lord, l have gone through things through the Lord. Day by day, the Lord has dealt with me and is continuing to deal with me on many things: my habits, my food, my eating, my sleeping, my dressing — in everything, the Lord deals with me. My hair, my eyeglasses, my shoes, and even my thoughts, my mind, my taste, and my hobbies. The Lord is dealing with me. The more I pray, the more the Lord deals with me. Finally, I become a person who is just saturated with the Lord.
Excerpted from A Ministry and Not A Work, message three of the 1978 Labor Day Weekend Conference in Seattle, WA.