How Can We Use Our Spiritual Gifts To Grow The Body Of Christ?

Ross Sawyers
Apr 24, 2022    51m
We are all given unique spiritual gifts from God. This message teaches us how we can use these gifts to help support and grow the body of Christ. We learn that He's placed us in the Body of Christ, just as He desired, with the giftedness needed to have a vibrant and healthy body. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

April 24th Gifted.mp3
Ross Sawyers: [00:00:41] It has been a beautiful morning of worship and what a gift to be able to praise and exalt our God. Some would say, and C.S. Lewis said, a number of people say it in different ways, but "Our praise is incomplete unless it's expressed." And it's been a gift to be able to express to him all morning long, I've loved just hearing people sing, and the vibrancy in our body here 121 in singing to the Lord. It's been a good day.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:17] When we think about giftings, for the next few weeks, we'd like to just take some time to think about, from Scripture, the Spiritual gifts, and how God wants to use those in each of our lives. And for some, it might be that that's a new idea for you. What even is that? And so I hope in these weeks it'll be helpful just to understand what that is from God's perspective. For others, you might know what that means and what that is, you might know what your gifts are, you might not know what your gifts are, and you're not currently using or expressing those in the way that God's designed it. And our prayer would be that this would be a time where God captivates your heart to use the gifts that He's giving you. And still others, you know, what you're giftings are you've been using those, and I hope you'll just be encouraged as you hear the Scripture and that you're playing out the part that you have that he's giving you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:18] Sometimes one of the problems with our spiritual gifts is we're not sure what they are, and we're not sure how to figure that out, it's confusing to us. It can be like the words on my shirt, several people have asked this morning, some have guessed it appropriately, but others just wondered, what is that? What's the shirt say? And it is, it's a little bit confusing. To get help to clear up the confusion if we have a mirror, and look in the mirror, let's see if I get it right this time. Do you see it now? Corey, can you help me a second time, this way? This way. Can you see it now? Did you get it? There we go. It illustrates beautifully, the point, sometimes we need help knowing what our gift needs are, and I'm just so grateful that Corey can help me get my shirt pointed at you so that you could see the giftings.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:37] And the reality is that God's word is a mirror for us, other followers of Jesus can be a mirror for us to help us see ourselves for who we really are. And we want to go to what God says and what His Word says and what other believers say, to understand what our giftings are, that's where we can find the help to know what they are, and so that's our hope in these coming weeks.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:04] If you'll turn on your Bible to First Corinthians chapter 12, we will be in verses 1 through 7, and then also, 12 through 26. It's quite a few parts of Scripture today, but it's a metaphor that flows nicely. As you're turning in your Bibles, if you're newer at this, in your Bible in First Corinthians, you'll have about this many pages showing when you're in First Corinthians 12, so that would be one way to get to where you want to go. We'll also have the Scripture on the screen to follow as well, and we just want to unpack what God says about this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:39] Before we move into that, though, I want to remind us of the way we started 2022. Several of you are newer, and I just want to continue this, but God just kind of gave us a word for the year. I'm not usually a word-for-the-year kind of person, but that is what God did this time, and that word is, outside. And the idea of that, that I understood from the Lord for us is how can we get outside of our comfort zones? As followers of Jesus, how can we get beyond where we just lean on our own abilities, our own selves, and instead, that we're leaning on the Spirit of God, and that's the only way we can make it when we get outside our comfort zone. And I just looked at a number of ways, and I just want to say thank you, one of the ways I encouraged you is sometimes it's just outside of our comfort zone to invite someone to join us to worship or join us for Easter. And our staff, we just kind of celebrated what God did last weekend, and one of the things that was said is, how many people we ran into that you invited your friends or family to come, and we just saw that all weekend long. So I just want to say thank you, for some that is comfortable, for others it's not comfortable, so thank you for doing that. There's no telling the life change God might have brought about that started a week ago. There are other ways that God will prompt us to get outside our comfort zone. So what are some of those things? When we talk about gifts, and our giftedness, for the next few weeks, that might be a step out of your comfort zone to really explore and do the thing that God has gifted you to do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:20] There's another aspect, though, to the outside, and that's 121 Outdoors. So one side of it is outside our comfort zone, and the other side is 121 Outdoors. And what we're asking there is if you love doing something out in God's creation, whatever the activity is, would you be game to get a small group of people and do that thing and do it in a way that there's time alone with God, there's small group time around God's word, but just whatever the activity is, that we're enjoying the God who created the outside. And we've had a few do that so far, we've got several more coming up. One that people wanted to throw it out as an invite, is a family camping trip at the end of May. If you would have any interest in being a part of that, let me know, and it'll be a really neat time to get to know people that you might not know, that would be getting outside of your comfort zone probably, but in a guided time for families on a camping trip. So we'd love for you to be a part of that, and you can just find me, I'm in the hallway afterwards and I'll be glad to let you know what to do from there. So those are a couple of things when we think about outside.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:28] In First Corinthians, so the way the Bible is laid out, we think about it as 66 books of the Bible, 39 books in the Old Testament, 27 books in the New Testament, some larger, some smaller. And we have a set of books of the Bible that are actually letters, and they're letters that Paul wrote to different churches. And one of the things I love about the integrity of Scripture is when there are problems, the Bible doesn't mask those or hide those. When people have flaws or massive sin issues, it doesn't hide those. So we don't find ourselves reading something God gave us where it's like all these perfect people, or all these perfect churches, how do I ever measure up to that? No, we see all the imperfections, flaws, and sins in people and churches.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:22] And First Corinthians, Paul writes it, addressing problems in the church at Corinth. And so it's just a number of problems, and he's addressing those problems. When we arrive at First Corinthians 12, for our purposes, we want to think about a problem that was around the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. And that gift had been utilized, and it was starting to be elevated and misused, and so Paul begins to address spiritual gifts, but he's doing it in light of that problem of speaking in tongues, so that gives us a little bit of an idea of the background of where we are. And in Chapter 12, I want us to think about today just our giftedness, and how God sees it, and the way it's unfolded for us in Scripture, and how each of us can be a part of what God is doing using the giftedness that He's given us. And every person that knows Jesus today has been gifted by God with something to contribute to the Body of Christ. And our hope in these weeks is that we'll all just be a healthy, functioning body.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:30] Now, I've kind of done the preacher thing today, and I've laid out several words to help us with each part of the Scripture. And you'll notice along there that there's a parallelism to the words I've chosen, but I failed at one point, I couldn't quite pull it off. And so the test today would be, can you figure out which word does not actually fit in this outline? Now, it fits with the Scripture, just not kind of in that whole preacher vibe where you try to make it kind of float correctly, so we're just going to let the Scripture work for us today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:08] In verses 1 through 3, the first word that I'd put with this when we think about our giftedness is clarity. And Paul is bringing clarity to the church at Corinth around some misinformation and some things that were happening that were not good. Verse 1 of chapter 12, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware." This is what clues us in that there's a question the Corinthians are asking, and they're saying, hey, there's a problem with the Spiritual gifts. And then Paul's saying, I don't want you to be unaware, I'm going to explain to you what's going on here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:42] Now, as a side note, what I'd like to say to our church today, is that they had the freedom to ask Paul their questions, and he had the freedom to come to them and say, hey, here's some problems in the church, I want to point these out to you because this isn't honoring and glorifying God right now. And what I desire for us at 121, is to be a church where you have the freedom to ask your questions. If there's something that you don't see or don't understand or you're wondering where we got that or why we do something in a particular way, we want to answer those questions. And it should be a safe environment with our staff, in our small groups, our life groups, anywhere, it should be safe to ask your hardest questions. And then I had a calculus teacher in college, and she said, no question is a stupid question, in a calculus class. And I thought, in calculus that's true, that none of this should be a stupid question if we ask it. But there really is no stupid question, if we don't know the answer, then we want to look and kind of figure out with people the answer from Scripture. We want to understand why we're doing things in a particular way. So please have the freedom in the things that you have questions about, and that we can work through that together. It doesn't have to be that we go running off and do it on our own, but together, we kind of work through that together, and that's what they're doing here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:06] In verse 2 he says, "You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led." Now, Paul is really straightforward, the writers of the New Testament and Old Testament are. He just says, look, you were pagans before. Now that would be offensive today, and we'd have everybody running off on social media, and you know, I can't believe you just call me a pagan. Well, he called them pagans, that's what they were, they were going according to the course of this world, they were indulging the flesh, they were following anything but God. And so he just says, this is what you were doing, and you were led astray by mute idols. A bit of an irony there that they were worshiping and chasing after these idols that couldn't talk, and so he says, look, you were led astray by these mute idols, however they led you. So there's really no power in a carved-out image, and that is mute, they can't talk, and yet there is a demonic work there that's going on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:11] And what Paul knows about them is that in that pagan religion they were in, that there was something similar to the speaking in tongues, that there were these unintelligible kind of utterances that would be spoken, and that was a part of their rituals. Well, now they're finding themselves in the church, and when these spiritual gifts are being used, one of the gifts is speaking in tongues, and they're hearing this. And so it's a question now, how do I know if this is something pagan, or how do I know if it's something of Christ? So how do I discern that? So that's how you get the idea of clarity here, Paul is giving them clarity to be able to discern.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:48] In verse 3 he says, "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit." So the distinction he gives here is in the way to clarify if something's of God or not of God is can the person, and do they declare that Jesus is Lord? Because only by the Holy Spirit of God, can a person genuinely declare Jesus is Lord? Now, any of us probably could use and say the phrase, Jesus is Lord. But for that to be true personally, and to be able to say that Jesus is Lord in a culture that is more hostile to Jesus, that will only be by the Holy Spirit that I'm able to say it. So if there are these ecstatic utterances going on, and the person cannot declare, Jesus is Lord, then you know that's not of God. As a matter of fact, John says, in First John chapter 4 verses 2 and 3, that an evil spirit cannot voice that Jesus has come in the flesh, or confess that Jesus is Jesus, that He's Lord. So a clarifier for a person that knows Jesus genuinely, is that we would be declaring that Jesus is Lord.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:13] Now, candidly, when I think about this for our culture today, I don't know very many people that this would be written to, that we'd say, hey, you're chasing after these mute idols. I think today's idol is self, and I think the declaration today is, self, you're the lord of my life. So what is our declaration today? Is it, self, you are lord, or is it, Jesus, you're Lord? And only by the Spirit of God will I be able to say, Jesus, you're Lord. So what's your confession today?

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:58] Paul would go on to say that the way we can even get to this part of declaring that Jesus is Lord, is to receive Jesus for salvation first of all. And Paul would write in this letter to the Corinthians in different ways. And in First Corinthians 1:18, he says, "The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." So today we just want to ask the question, is the cross foolishness to me, or is it power today? He would go on in chapter 2 and verse 2, and say, "I determined to know nothing among you except Christ, and Christ crucified." If I don't get any message across, he said, I want to make sure that you know that Christ was crucified for you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:41] And then we jump to his letter to the Second Corinthians, and he said, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jesus became sin on our behalf, so that we might be made righteous, and we might be set free. And you just kind of bump up from there a little bit and he wrote that any person that has in Christ, now is a new creation, the old things have passed away and new things have come. We celebrated with those who are baptized today, that it wasn't their baptism that saved them, but it was a receiving of what Christ did for them and at that point, they became new creations. The old goes away and the new comes, we're new creations in Christ. And then you just bump up from there a little bit and he says, "The love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves (where self is the idol) but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." Jesus is Lord, the one who died and was raised again. And it's the motivation of Christ's love, then, is what moves us to live and bring glory to God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:51] I was watching Colin Cowherd the other day, catching up on my sports, and just little clips on YouTube. And he was interviewing Derrick Harper, a former Dallas Mavericks basketball player, stud player in his time. And I took a picture on my screen, I apologize, I tried a few times to get his face where it didn't look like this, I feel bad doing that to him, but what I wanted was to capture his t-shirt. This is on a national talk sports radio, and Jesus Christ Matters, on Derek Harper's chest right there for everybody to see. He's a follower of Jesus, sure, I'll talk sports with you, but more than anything, what I want to convey today, you're not going to miss that Jesus Christ matters today. I want you to know that today, that Jesus Christ is my Savior, Jesus Christ is my Lord, and I have no problem declaring that in a culture that's hostile to it. I love that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:51] So we get that part settled first, just to clarify, I believe Jesus for salvation, Jesus is Lord. Now we move on to the gifts, in verses 4 through 7, when we think about giftedness, what it's for, it's for the common good. It's for other people, it's not for my personal benefit, it's for the common good of people. This is where we land at in verse 4, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons." Now, what we find here in these verses, 4 through 6, is the source of our giftedness, it's not something we have to come up with and somehow create a gift for ourselves, God is the source of the gifts. So for every person that says Jesus is Lord, he has gifted you. And there's a variety, he says, it's the same spirit, same Lord, same God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:57] Do you see what he's doing there? He's leaning into the Triune God. This is something we'll never be able to fully grasp with our finite human minds. That God is one substance in three persons. He's one, three persons. And here it's laid out, it's part of the Triune God who's sourced us with our gift. And there's a variety of gifts, there are different ways we're gifted, and there's a variety of ministries that it plays out in. For example, you may have a teaching gift, and it might be with preschoolers. So a variety of gifts and a variety of ministries with a variety of results. And so that that little person walks out of there, and they have God's word memorized, that's one of the effects of the teaching gift of a person in that ministry. That's just one example, so there's a variety of gifts, ministries, effects, and it's God who works all things in all persons. So we just used the gifts that God's given, and he works out what he wants to work out in all kinds of people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:04] Now, I want to say about the gifts for just a moment, that this is everybody, it's for that person that's new in the faith, it's the person that's old in the faith, it's the person that's between new and old. It's not just adults, we have children using their giftings right now. Those children who trusted Jesus, God has already gifted them. So our teenagers are gifted, our students, our college students, our young adults, our children, anybody who knows Jesus, we have a gift from God to be used in the church, that is God's design. There's a variety, how do we do that? You may or may not have heard these terms, have you heard the term the universal church? I'm not talking about universalism, which is not a good thing, the Universal Church means all the people that are followers of Jesus all over the world, every tribe, tongue, and nation, that's the universal church of God, we're a part of something way bigger than us. And then there's the local church that expresses that universal church of God. So we have this massive church all over the world, brothers, and sisters in Christ everywhere, and then we have all these local expressions of it. So 121 Community Church is a local church, we're a local expression of the universal church. Compass is a local expression of the universal church. First Colleyville is a local expression of the universal church. Church at The Cross is a local expression of the Universal Church. First Baptist Grapevine is a local expression of the universal church. It's the church gathered, and we are a part of the local church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:51] Now, when we think about giftedness, there are people that God has gifted that benefits the universal church. There are big voices for Christ's name that are speaking the impact all over the world. Most people's giftings, however, are more in the local expression of the church. Some people God uses for the universal body, most of us, it's going to be in the local body that we're a part of, so God has called us to express those in these gatherings like this. So all morning long we've had people using their gifts in greeting and tech and worship and teaching our children and our students. And so all morning long, all kinds of things going on, all kinds of gifts being used. But our giftings also are used in our small groups, our life groups, so there are giftings that we would use in this kind of gathering, and in giftings, we would use in our life groups, that everybody in the group can utilize their gifts somehow. Somehow, everybody in the body can use their gifts. And however, in whatever season of time it is, if God wants that expressed, it might be in that smaller group, it might be in something in the larger gathering, it might be as we go. The giftings aren't just a role to be played in a particular given hour, we're giving different giftings that are used as we go, and we just make ourselves available for God to use the giftings that he's given us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:26] Why did he give us these giftings to be used like this? Verse 7, "To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.", that's why I use that word for this part. So we get clarity in verses 1 through 3, we see that it's for the common good in verses 4 through 7. Again, God has not gifted me the way he's gifted me for myself, he's gifted me for the common good of the church. And it's the same for you, whatever that gift is that he's giving you, it's for the common good of someone else. Which means if we're not using that gift, then the common good is not being done for the church. And we don't just use our gifts if we think, oh, I'll look around, it looks like everything's covered, I don't really need to do anything. No, we're about that deep, there's plenty of room for everybody's giftings. So it's not what we look and say, is there a need? No, if you're here, God has gifted you, and it allows the body of Christ to function in a healthy way when it's functioning for the common good of the whole body. So we're edifying and building up, it's for the common good.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:41] Now, next week we're going to hang out and verses 8 through 11, and then the end of the chapter and talk about specific spiritual gifts. Today, I just want to set the pace for us on what the giftedness is, and the way it kind of unfolds in the bulk of the chapter.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:57] So let's skip to verses 12 and 13, and the word I want to use for that is unity. So we're gifted, and it's a unity that we're gifted in, "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ." So now we're introduced to a metaphor, so we're gifted for those who call Jesus Lord, and then we're doing it for the common good, and now use the metaphor of the body. And I love that he just makes it simple for us, there are a number of metaphors in the Scriptures for the church. We're the bride of Christ. We are a building and we're each a living stone, a part of the building.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:44] Here he's talking about us being a body, and I think all of us can kind of immediately lock in on that metaphor, "So even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. And he's just simply making a point here about the unity of the body, I'm one body, you're one body, and you have multiple members of your body, there are a lot of parts to your body, and a lot of parts to my body. Each of us can get that, one body, a number of parts. So there's a unity in that there's one, and yet there are many.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:19] In verse 13, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." Now he is saying that metaphor of the body and saying, all right, we get the physical body, and so also is Christ. So Christ is the head of the body in this metaphor, he's our head, he's the one that leads us, and then the rest of us are a part of that body. Here he talks of the baptism of the Spirit. Now, this can be confusing, we had water baptism this morning, here he's talking about a Spirit baptism. And there are a number of teachings about this that are out there, this is what I would say, my understanding from Scripture is when a person receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, at that moment, the Holy Spirit baptizes you. The word baptize means to immerse, and when a person comes to Christ, we're immersed in the Spirit of God, it's not a subsequent thing that happens later. the Spirit is the one who regenerates, stirs our hearts, so we can even receive it, and then he's the one that we receive when we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit, we're baptized by the Spirit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:38] Water baptism, just by contrast, from Scripture, is what happens after a person receives Christ. So we have a Spirit baptism first, whenever we receive Christ, we receive the Spirit. And then in obedience, when we become a follower of Christ, then we follow that with our baptism in water, and it's a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, it's immersion under the water. They used it in a secular sense, as the submerging of a ship, it was totally submerged, and they would say it got baptized. And that's what happens in our baptism, there's a submersion that pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. So in a Spirit baptism, we receive Christ at our salvation, and he says we're baptized into the body, that's what unifies us. Every person in here that's received Jesus or you're online, that you've received the Spirit, that's what connects us in the body, that's what makes us one body under Christ is the head, is the Spirit. And the Spirit is the one who unifies us. And what he says here is that it's whether Jew or Greek, so it doesn't matter what a ethnicity is or what a nationality is, that when we receive Christ, we receive the Spirit and we receive the Spirit, it doesn't matter what ethnicity is, whether slaves are free, it doesn't matter what socio economic status is, when we receive the Spirit, we're one body in Christ. And then he said we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So it's a reiteration of the idea of the baptism.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:24] Now, I don't know how many of you do your own yard work and how many of you pay somebody to do it? I do my own, and we're in a massive pollen world right now if you haven't noticed. It's on your car when you leave today unless it rained, or rains on it this afternoon, I think, which I'll be good for a little while. But yesterday I worked in the yard, and I messed around with all the pollen. It's still in my throat and it's in this eye, and so I'm grateful that I've kept it with me. But for the rest of the night, last night, and through the night, I just kept drinking water and I think it's a good picture of this if I want to satisfy a thirst. And what happens is we receive the Holy Spirit at our salvation, and then the Scripture talks about being filled with the Spirit, and that's an ongoing thing because there's a kind of this battle in life with our flesh in the world and all the things that go on around us. And I want to drink to the Spirit often to quench my thirst and for the river of that living water to flow through. We have the Spirit who baptized us, and the Spirit who continues to run his life through us, so there's a unity, we're unified by the Spirit. It's not a unity we have to create, it's one we maintain. the Spirit is the one who's created the unity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:49] Well, that moves us to verse 14, when we talk about giftedness, there's a diversity in it. And so there's a unity, we're unified in the Spirit of God. And then there's a diversity in how that plays out in verse 14, "For the body's not one member, but many." So there's one body, he makes this point multiple times, so there's a unity and a diversity. We all have different giftedness, and so we're gifted, and we each have different gifts of diversity and then unity, we have both of those going on and we want to make sure that we're appreciative of both of the unity and the diversity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:28] But there's a problem he starts to unfold, and sometimes when we think of giftedness, and I think this is a fair problem in our church and other churches today, and it is inferiority. Are you starting to get the vibe for the word? Inferiority, that one I think, well, I don't even know what my gift is, or they're much more gifted than I am, and what they do is way more important than what my gifting would be, I'm not necessary, or I'm envious because you have this, and I don't. Generally, the envy flows when we're kind of gifted in the same realm, and we look at somebody else that does the same thing and we wonder, why I'm not as good as them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:18] And that's what unfolds here, that inferiority. In verse 15, "If the foot says, “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." So you get this dialog going on, and the foot is saying, hey, look, I'm not as important as a hand. But I think most of us would agree the foot is really important. Somebody wrote that there are 26 bones in the foot, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles. There's a lot going on in a foot, and I've seen over the years a number of people that roll in here and you have a boot because something happened to your foot. Well, it's a problem when something happens to the foot, it creates a hardship on everything else. So it's not like we're looking at this and saying, okay, the foot isn't necessary, that's what the foot is saying, it's saying, look, I'm not a hand, I'm not a part of the body. Now, the hand has 8 wrist bones, 5 bones on the palm, 14 in the digits, and thousands of nerve endings per square inch, and two of the largest spaces in the motor cortex of the brain are concerned with the hands, isn't that interesting? The hands matter, and the feet matter.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:29] And then there's a dialog between the ear and the eye, "If the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not, for this reason, any the less a part of the body." And so it's like the ear is less important than the eye, and vice versa, however, they want to go at it. No, the eye is important, the ear is important, the foot is important, and the hand is important, every part of the body is important. Now, when one of these is not in use, that's when we start to see the problems, right? So we see an injury. That's a good way to explore this, it kind of creates a hardship on everyone else. So when someone's not utilizing what their giftedness is in the body, it's like an injury almost, it creates stress on the rest of the body.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:19] Now, when I was 31 years old, I blew out my L5-S1, the disc in my low back. And it's just a really small thing, like, I'm not going to show you, but there's barely a scar there these days. I mean, you wouldn't even really know there's a problem if you just look at it. But it is a problem, I've spent the last 26 years managing my back, this one little thing. I assess where I'm going to sit, and what kind of chair it is. I consider how long I'm going to have to stand when I go to something. I think about what activities I go to, and if I do this sport or this sport, what's that going to do to me for the next few days? It's amazing that this just one little hinge spot wreaks such havoc on my psyche and on everything that I do, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about this part of my back. It is, by the way, why I go to the sauna so much and you hear those stories, because God doesn't waste anything, I think in part I had a weak spot there, so I'd hang out my whole life in saunas and get opportunities to bring about life change with people there. I do that to survive. But see, there are things that you can do when there's a hurt part of the body, so the rest of my body needs to compensate for that, and I've got to work on a lot of different things, stretching and my core and whatever. Core wasn't a deal 30 years ago, it's like a thing everywhere now, no matter what you do. Somehow, we didn't figure that out, I figured it out a little late, so I'm paying a price for that. But that's what happens when someone doesn't function right in the body.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:00] Or we think we're in fear, we think that my part of the body doesn't matter. Well, every part of the body manages to affect the rest of it, isn't that interesting? So there's no need to ever feel inferior because every part of the body is of value and it matters, it counts. And he gives an absurd example in verse 17, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?" Imagine if we're just walking around and we're one big eye, one big ear, one big foot, one big hand, it would be kind of funny looking. Now, granted, if we started out that way and that's how life rolled, it probably wouldn't be funny, we'd just say, oh, you're a foot, nice. But that's not how it goes, that's not the body.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:44] So there's a unity of diversity and you want to be careful of inferiority. And we can be careful of that because of God's sovereignty in verse 18, "But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired." Now that's a verse I've memorized and locked on to because God is the one who places us, it may be that you have church hopped, church shopped, you've prayed, you've wondered where you're to be, what local expression of the church you're to be a part of. And ultimately, whatever that played out for you, if you're here and this is where you believe God has you, God placed you here. And if you're somewhere else and you're visiting today, then God placed you there, "But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired." Just as he desired.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:30] In the same way that God chose us before the foundation of the world. He formed us fearfully and wonderfully in our mother's wombs. Set us, according to Act 17, in the geography where he wants us, at the appointed time. He brought about our salvation, where we declared him, Jesus is Lord. In the same way, He's placed us in the Body of Christ, just as He desired, with the giftedness that He desired for that body. So if he has you here, he's gifted you because he wants to do something through this body at 121. If he has you somewhere else, he wants to do something through your giftedness in that body. And for anyone to not do their part, it's like having their disk operated on at age 31 and it creates a hardship on everybody else. Because the rest of the body has to work harder at it, it has to double up and do things they might not be as gifted at. God's sovereignty, so we can know that if we're here, God has placed us here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:37] But there's another side to inferiority and it is superiority. In verses 19 through 21, it's an arrogance that can happen. Sometimes we might think, because we're a particular part of the body, that I'm more valuable to the body than someone else. And by the way, pride can be disguised in humility. Verse 19, "If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20But now there are many members, but one body." So we see that emphasis, "And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” So, no body part can look and say, look, I'm more valuable than you are, there's not room for pride. That's kind of the problem that had erupted in the Corinthian church, there was pride over those who had the gift of speaking in tongues and others couldn't, and they felt inferior because of the way they were projecting that gift, and Paul's correcting that problem. So there's a sovereignty in this, and there's no room for inferiority or superiority. We simply want to accept what God has done in us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:42] And then the last part of this is mutuality, in versus 22 through 26. And mutuality is the idea that we share a feeling, or an action, or a relationship between the parties, it's more like an interdependence. And this is a bit of a challenge in our Western culture because we're more individualistic in the way we think. In Eastern cultures, they think more communal, and some of these things actually translate a little better to them than they do to us because we think individual, but God has not designed us for individualism.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:17] I actually think that kind of isolation is what creates so much of the anxiety and depression issues today, we isolate out rather than being interdependent on the body, and that's what he's describing here, "On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked." That's just like God, he takes that which lacks, and he actually gives more honor to it. So there's a value for every part of the body, "So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." So there's a mutuality and interdependence so that we can care for one another, it's for the common good.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:15] Paul writes in Ephesians 4:15-16, that it's for the building up of one another in love that we have these gifts. In verse 26 of First Corinthians 12, "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." God has designed us, and metaphorically says, we are the body of Christ. He said I've placed you together in an interdependent relationship. You're one, unified in the Spirit, and I've gifted each of you differently and you're to function with the part I've gifted you with, in the body. And when someone suffers, and there's hardship or conflict in marriages or difficulty between parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren or grandparents and other relationships, wherever the relational difficulties are, in friendships, if there are deaths, illnesses, we get in there and we suffer together. My back affects my whole body, my body suffers together with it. Any time someone suffers in our body, we step into the suffering, not out of it, because we're one body.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:49] In the same way that we step in together, and by the way, the best place to do that is to get engaged somehow in a smaller piece of the body so that we can really know where the suffering and the rejoicing is. It's difficult in this size to know what's going on with everybody, that's part of the reason for the smaller groups so that we can use our gifts in those groups, so we can suffer together, work through hard things together, and then we can rejoice together. So it's not just that we get each other suffering, but we also get in each other's rejoicing, we're one body. If one part of my body is healthy, then I can celebrate that and the rest of my body can celebrate, we're glad the legs are working today because this part's not working so well. So we celebrate, we rejoice in those things we can rejoice in. We celebrate with people when they come to Christ when they're baptized. We celebrate when you're getting opportunities to move through in your work, and people are recognizing that the way you're honoring God with your work ethic and people are giving you favor in your job, and you're making an impact for the common good in the work that God has designed you for, we celebrate that together. We celebrate graduations together, and birthdays together, and weddings together, we celebrate when people receive awards. Now, that one tends to be harder for us because that's where jealousy can sometimes stop us from being excited for someone. We both suffer and rejoice, that's what happens in a body, we're one in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:25] What is your giftedness? We all need the mirror, the mirror of God's word to tell us today that we're his, that we're a part of his body, and that all of us are members of that body and have a part to play in it. We need the mirror of God's word to tell us that all of us are valuable and our giftings play a major part, we need the word to reflect back to us. I need to step into the suffering in people's lives as well as the rejoicing because we're one, one body in Christ. Sometimes it really is helpful in not just the mirror of God's word, but who's someone that knows Christ that could look at you and speak into you and say, this is what I think God is doing in you, this is what I think your giftedness is. He has supernaturally given you the gift of encouragement, I think this is how that could play out. You're a hospitable person, let's talk about how that could play out for you. You're a leader, that's a spiritual gift, let's talk about what kind of leadership opportunities there are. You're administrative, let's talk about what the administrative gifts are, there's opportunity there. So we just want to accept where God has placed us, and then utilize the giftings that he's given us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:53] Last Sunday, on Easter, my family was here. And it's always a gift when my two sons and daughter-in-law come and we get the opportunity to worship together, that's rare that the five of us are together to do that, they're both active in their churches, and so I appreciate it when we gather together. It's also my younger son's birthday, Barrett, and so we celebrated at lunch afterward. Well, our family has never liked taking pictures, it is like a full-on beat down, if we wanted a picture anywhere our whole lives. Well, last week I got home, and Lisa said, Barrett wants to take a picture of the family. I thought, well, look at life changing around here. And so we went out on the back patio, and my daughter-in-law's great at this, she loves doing it, she's helped our family on the whole picture thing. And she sets it down and we do the timer thing, right, you know, 10 seconds. So she's over there trying to get it set, and then you trip over something when you run around, and you've got to start over. You know how it works. So 10 sec delay, then she'd run around and, you know, we'd do our picture. We didn't like the first one, so she does another one, we didn't like that one. I don't know how many times we did this, like she got her aerobic work in, just doing the phone and coming around. And we just had multiple pictures, and nobody was ever satisfied with what we looked like. Finally, Andrew, my oldest son, said, you know what? We just need to accept that this is what we look like. And we were done, we just needed somebody to state the obvious.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:36] What if we just did the same? Let's quit fighting this and just say, this is my identity in Christ, this is how he's gifted me, I'm done, I'm using that gift.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:53] Father, thank you for your time, and I just love your word today. And I love the worship and baptisms and just the conversation in the hallways, it's just so rich, and it's so built up being with the body of Christ today, so thank you. Thank you, Father, for the ways you've made us so healthy in so many ways. And, God, I pray that we would just continue to grow in health and stronger. And Father, I pray that every person would receive from you the gifting that you've given them and put those in play in the body of Christ at 121. God, if you have them somewhere else today, I pray that they'd put their gifts into play in that local body, and so we're just grateful that you would choose to do that, and choose to use us in different ways, where it's just this beautiful unity. And God, I pray that the outside community would just see what you're doing here and see the love and the servant heart and the care for one another in the ways people use the different ways they've been gifted. And father, I pray that they would see that and say, man, why would I not want to be a part of what God's doing? And so we just thank you that you've given that as a way for people to see you, and I pray we'll mirror that well in our community, and so we thank you for that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:22] So if we could, let's just be quiet for a moment and reflect on where are you? Are you the place where Jesus is Lord or not? If not, why not? If so, then what are your gifting? Are you utilizing those right now, or have you stepped out for a while, and it's time to step back in a little bit? What does this season hold for you? And then, if you're not using your gifting, just asking Him to reveal those, and hopefully in these coming days that will become more and more clear in the ways he wants you to serve and be a part just in the way he's gifted you. And when that happens, then we'll just all walk around really healthy, not exhausted, and tired, trying to compensate for what's not being done, but there'll be a strength among us. So let's be just still before the Lord.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051