As believers in Christ, we are made to be one body, made up of different parts and functions, all under Jesus Christ as the head. Within the body, Jesus has given different types of spiritual gifts and in this chapter, Ephesians 4, Paul lists some of those gifts. Here is what he says:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesians 4:11-13
I see a few parts here that I think are worth noting:
Christ gave the gifts
Paul starts in verse 11 by saying that it was Jesus himself who gave these gifts. He had descended from heaven and provided these gifts to the believers, those who are part of his body.
Paul says that Jesus did this so that we all could attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. So there is something special about these gifts, that they help us and allow us to grow in Jesus.
I think, therefore, that we can say that Jesus himself, as the head of the body, gave us everything that we would need to be able to grow healthfully as the body.
Equipping for works of service
Yes, the gifts are, of course, to be exercised, but according to what Paul says here, they have an even bigger purpose. Jesus gave them to us so that we can go on to equip others in the body. So, what does that mean?
It seems clear to me, for example, that if you have the gift of teaching, you should be teaching. But beyond that, part of your responsibility in the body of Christ is to teach others to teach. By teaching others to teach, you are making it possible for them to do works of service, building them up so that they also can teach and be built up into maturity.
Or let’s take an evangelist. Maybe they are excellent at sharing the Gospel with others. Maybe they understand how to do it in such a way that many decide to follow Christ. Great! But their work is not done. There are others in the body of Christ that need to know how to do this. Everyone should share their testimony, or share the Gospel with others. It is both a natural consequence of the gifting from Christ that they should exercise their gift as well as teach others how to be strengthened in that gift also.
And we can say the same for each of the giftings. Beyond the two already mentioned, the prophet, the apostle, and the pastor all have gifts that they should both use and teach.
The Fullness of Christ
And the main reason for doing all of this is that the body would grow. By serving, by using the gifts that have been given and that are being taught and passed down to others, we are performing works of service, and those works have a way of teaching us, growing us, refining us.
There is nothing like doing, nothing like participating, that makes us grow. We grow very little when we sit and listen, or watch others use their gifts, but we grow a lot when we are taught and we enter into service. As we begin to use the gifts that we have been taught, we can find greater purpose and we begin to be used by Christ within the body in ways that we never had imagined before. Our lives in Christ become utilized in incredible new ways, and now we not only serve but we begin to teach others to do the same… to allow them to experience the same joy of service and doing works that will allow them to mature as well.
We must equip
Let’s not forget this lesson as we lead others. It is important to keep in mind that it isn’t for us that we are doing the work that Christ has given us to do. Instead, it is for the body of Christ. It is his body that we are working to build up, working to strengthen. Let us make sure that this is a regular part of the work that we are doing so that those that we are leading are being built up into the members of his body that God made them to be.