“I have been crucified with Christ. It is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
GOD IS YOUR GIFT
Hey, good news: Christianity is about God, not you! Christians are free from the slavery of self-examination, self-worry, and self-improvement. Your ability to do good works and exercise spiritual gifts has nothing to do with what God thinks of you. All that God judges you by is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s scandalous. The game is over. If you have not traded your life in for his to become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), I’d encourage you to do so now.
WE ARE HIS INSTRUMENTS
Remember the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). If you are a Christian, those are yours right now. The same God who demonstrated his love for us by dying on the cross (Rom. 5:8) also lives in you. The God who joyfully submitted to the Father by going to that cross (Heb. 12:12) also does as well. You get the idea.
As you read Scripture, remember that your old self has died with Christ (Rom. 6:6), which means you are free to “present yourselves to God . . . as instruments for righteousness” (Rom. 6:13). As Paul David Tripp wrote in his fantastic book on counseling, we are instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. Therefore, do not think that you are limited in any way to demonstrate God’s attributes. For example, even if you are the world’s worst public speaker—or if you literally have no voice at all—God can (and will) speak through you in one form or another, audibly or not.
Consider how God has uniquely gifted you. Don’t limit yourself.
STUDY THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
After you have received the gift of God, identified with his death, burial, and resurrection in Jesus, and meditated on his amazing attributes as he works through your life and those around you, then it’s a good time to consider how he has uniquely gifted you. Don’t limit yourself. With an open heart and mind, study the lists of spiritual gifts (e.g. Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12:8–10; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 4:10). It’s fine to even take one of the many online spiritual gifts tests. However God speaks to you about your gifts, it is important to know that on this side of heaven your fallen “body of death” will be seduced to reject them (Rom. 7:24; 8:10). What are you passionate about? What are you afraid of? Think about the intersection of those two questions and you’ll discover where you are often prone to sin.
REPENTANCE IS A GIFT
Repentance is yet another gift that God gives us (Acts 11:18). God enables us to know who we are in Christ and respond accordingly, turning from sin toward God. As we focus away from ourselves and toward the steward of the universe—as we gaze at the magnificence of God—he will compel us to act like him and love others with our gifts.
HE GIVES SO WE CAN SERVE
Consider how you can use your spiritual gifts to serve:
- Your spouse, children, and friends
- Your boss and co-workers
- Your church and neighboring churches
- Your neighborhood, city, country, and world
It’s OK to think big because you have a big God dwelling in you. Don’t try to muscle up with your old identity—your old self—and get things done. Instead, you are invited to rest in Jesus, the God of rest (Heb. 4:1–13), “who works in you, both to will and to work for his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). The good news is not only that God is the author and perfecter of your faith (Heb. 12:2), but he also empowers you to serve others with the gifts he has given you.