Question & Answer Forum

David Oliver

How can I know what work to do for God?

What a valuable expression of devotion to the Lord!

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much" (Luke 16:10) teaches us God’s way of entrusting lesser responsibilities initially. In fact, lifelong willingness to do "that which is least" is becoming for bondservants (see Philippians 2:5). Mark 12:34, "The Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who . . . gave . . . to every man his work," highlights the Lord’s manner: He desires to employ every hand and entrusts to each of us our personal responsibility. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10) advocates putting all our strength into what we do; that is especially appropriate for spiritual work.

Three factors may guide us in fulfilling our responsibility. First, our work will present itself to us. As part of living daily by the power of the Spirit, we should expect perceived need to encounter spiritual opportunity (Genesis 24:27). Second, our work will not be disruptive. The Scriptures use a body to illustrate assembly functioning (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27). If we assume we are a "thumb" and our functioning displaces another believer, we are either on the wrong hand (going about our work in the wrong way) or misdirected (doing the wrong work). Third, our work will have encouragement. Seeking others’ approval ought to be disappointing, yet the absence of encouragement should produce humble waiting on God. Work done for the Lord will eventually have His encouragement, perhaps in small, very personal ways, and the encouragement of respected believers. Only intimacy with God, however, can impart the essential awareness in the soul that a particular work, especially public service, is God-given.

D. Oliver

 

Is gift required for all spiritual work?

Not every Christian can speak in the assembly, but all can fulfill the responsibility to "exhort (encourage) one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13) by writing notes (Philemon 7) or speaking personally (Acts 18:26). Gift does not enhance "praying in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). Our placing undue emphasis on capability displaces dependence on the Spirit and undervalues the work of the Spirit in a believer. Business-like efficiency and effectiveness is helpful when coupled with evidence of the Spirit’s working within; when alone, it is unproductive spiritually in contrast to the hesitating labors of a Spirit-filled believer. We must do God’s work in the best possible manner, while remembering that we can accomplish such work only by the Spirit’s energy.

Some spiritual work, however, requires spiritual gift. Not every brother ought to be preaching the gospel or ministering to the saints or leading a Bible reading, nor should anyone whom God exercises for such work fail to find encouragement to do it.

D. Oliver

 

How is a believer’s spiritual gift developed?

Enrolling in the right school is essential to developing spiritual gift. The only accredited school is the school of God. All classes are integrated into the local assembly, although many involve private tutoring. 1 Corinthians 12:7, while speaking of spiritual gifts, refers to "the manifestation of the Spirit." A believer’s gift is not only the result of what the Spirit of God gives at conversion, but of what the Spirit of God does in the life. As a believer yields to the Spirit, increasing evidence of His work will be manifested or "appear" (related word in 1 Timothy 4:15). Before Paul encourages Timothy to develop his gift by using it (1 Timothy 4:14), he first emphasizes exemplary living (verse 12) and training in godliness (verse 7).

Development of gift is a two sided responsibility, the assembly’s and the individual’s. The assembly is God’s training ground; elders look for and encourage the Spirit’s manifestation in a believer’s life. For example, they lead in gospel outreach, involving younger, exercised believers in teaching children, either in the Sunday School or in assembly children’s work in locations apart from the assembly’s building. Barnabas’ relationship with Paul illustrates this (Acts 11:25 - 15:35).

Whether or not others fulfill their responsibility, the believer is responsible before the Lord to fulfill his. Without asserting himself, he can wait on God, diligently do what the Lord gives him to do, pray for a deeper burden for those within his care, apply himself to the Word of God so as to serve effectively, and humbly submit to God’s dealings in his life.

D. Oliver

 

Is confidence of value in the service of God?

Self-confidence is a plague in divine service (Jeremiah 17:5). When a believer relies on his presumed ability, his service for God can produce nothing (John 15:5). When a believer, because He feels inadequate, does not serve in a work God has given him, he too is a liability and equally self-reliant.

Confidence in God is indispensable. When a believer - parent, preacher, spouse, or elder - knows that God has given him a responsibility, he should have confidence that God will provide the grace and ability to accomplish the divine intention for that work (Judges 6:14). Could a believer wish for more, or less, than that?

D. Oliver

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