Our youngest grandson Luke, who just finished 6th grade, loves sports of all kinds. He is currently playing baseball and although he is one of the team’s pitchers, he primarily plays shortstop for his defensive skills. There are others who pitch well so it is usually to the team’s best interest for him to be at the shortstop position.
We like to watch the Seattle Mariner’s baseball games and each of their players has a special position where their skills are utilized the greatest. Some can play several positions quite well, but they usually have one which suits their skill set the best. Occasionally, due to a player getting injured, someone has to step into their spot who is not really equipped to play that position and it shows, and may make it difficult for the team. What really makes a team gel is when each player does his best at his particular position and supports each other player in their roles, rather than being envious of the other player’s positions and wishing they could have their spot. When each individual player works his hardest for the best of the team both on and off the field of play, that team has a good chance of success (providing, of course, that they have some talented players!).
When Paul writes about the body of Christ, the Church, he emphasizes how important it is for each member of the body to use the gifts they have been given by God for the good of the “team.” To the Romans Paul writes: “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence, he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness…Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Ro. 12:3-10).
In his letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul used the analogy of the human body with its many parts and emphasized how each part should be content with its God-given role and not wish it were something else. “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body,” etc. (I Cor. 12:14,15ff). And, just as God designed each part of our physical body to serve in a unique capacity for the good of the whole body, so He equipped each believer with a special set of abilities called “gifts of grace” or “spiritual gifts” to serve in a unique capacity “for the common good” of the church body (I Cor. 12:8,11).
Paul also mentioned these spiritual gifts given to each member of the body of Christ when he wrote to the church at Ephesus. After he lists some of the gifts (Eph. 4:11,12), he goes on to write about the purpose for each of our utilizing the gifts we have been given… “…to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:12-16).
Since believers are to exercise their gifts within a local assembly of believers (cf Heb. 10:24,25), it is important for the pastor and leadership team of each assembly to help folks discover and develop and deploy their gifts for the good of the body, much like the coach and his staff of a sports team need to see what special abilities each player has and help them develop those abilities and put them in a position where they can best benefit the team.
So, do you know how God has gifted you and are you using those gifts to serve the body of Christ and to minister to others? One day we will give an account to God for how we utilized the talents and gifts He gave us. He has blessed us to be a blessing. We are blessed when we use our gifts to bless others. Find your “niche” and be the best you can be at that position, always with the good of the team, the body of Christ, in mind.