This morning the Apostle Peter unlocked my imagination as I read his first letter, “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood (1 Peter 1:1-2).” Whew! Yes, I know! Peter always did have a flair for the melodramatic. What a run-on greeting! “Christians all over the world,” would have done nicely.
But, at any rate the verse that caught my attention was, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV).”
Sometimes there is a word or two in a block of Scripture that can trip us up. In this verse the word manifold might just be that word!
If we are not very careful, we might gloss over it and read right on past it without giving it a second thought! To do so would cause us to miss the boat by a mile. What a word!
Peter is saying that God has given every single one of us many-fold, multi-layered, multidimensional, gifts, talents and abilities! Because of God’s many-fold grace, we have many-fold gifts!
And, probably our first response to this news is, “What in the world can I do?”
Several years ago, I was counseling a woman who was feeling overwhelmed and rather hopeless. Her self-esteem was at rock bottom.
This woman was certain that her life lacked purpose; and, she lamented, running on and on regarding the things that she could not do!
She had small children in the home and her husband was an insensitive cad. There were multiple reasons for feeling hopeless but Christ always offers a path out!
So, I asked her to tell me one thing that she does well. She sat there for a moment lost in thought but then replied, “I guess I can clean fairly well.”
After a few moments more she said, “I am a pretty good cook! I am organized! I can run a sewing machine! I am a good story teller! I love working in the yard and I have a pretty good green thumb when it comes to making plants grow!”
Within a half hour she had a list a mile long of things she could do and within a very short period of time her entire attitude had been transformed. This lady left with what I could tell was a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh grasp of strengths and unique skills that God had entrusted her with.
This is what Peter means when he writes manifold. God has promised all of us that we have been given multidimensional gifts, talents and abilities and combined they mirror God’s grace.
Sometimes though, I do believe that the weight of life blocks our vision and before long we cannot see the forest for the trees. Having small children in the home is a big deal! I called those days, “Living in survival mode!”
The key is to understand that as always, with Christ nothing is the end of the story. It is easy to fill our minds with what we do not have; and, it is very easy to lose sight of what God can do with what we can do and what we actually have.
Have you ever considered just sitting down and listing off a hundred things you can do? Can you pray? Do you know how to use a telephone? Well…you can call somebody and offer them a blessing.
Can you cook? Are you good at cleaning? Can you change a tire on a car? Are you good at business and management? Are you graced with generosity and compassion?
Do you have a heart that breaks when you see those in need? Do you have a good set of ears so as to hear someone’s pain?
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
I was working a puzzle with my granddaughter Lylah last week. It was a rather complex puzzle for a three-year-old. It was a rather complex puzzle for a Papa too!
She and I struggled a bit. But we held hands, stuck together and as a team we worked all the pieces.
As we finished up the puzzle, she and I experienced a real drop the other shoe letdown! After all this work, there was one stinkin’ piece missing.
That poor child looked at me with such exasperation that it broke my heart! There was a piece missing! Our masterpiece was not complete and would never be complete because there was a piece missing!
We starred at the puzzle and tried to appreciate the other forty-nine pieces that were in place. But try as we might, our eyes kept drifting over to the hole where one piece was missing.
If any one of us does not play our part in Christ’s new kingdom, that missing piece screams out. Imagine! Just imagine everyone in the Body of Christ simply doing their part!
If only one of us drops out, that hole is glaring! The rest of the body will be one person short of a load.
In other words, we will be short the unique grace and individual strength of that person. All God asks of any of us it to be obedient to the unique calling he has placed upon our lives.
So, you can’t dance? Can you love? Can you make a sandwich? Can you encourage someone else?
There’s always something we can do in the kingdom. And, the last time I checked, God does not rate talents, gifts and contributions. God simply takes our widow’s mite and runs with it.