Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.1 Peter 4:8-11
We who are followers of Jesus have been given the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit has in turn given us gifts. The word used in the Greek for “gifts” is simply the word for grace (charis) with a suffix on the end (either -ma or the plural form -mata). One way to translated the word gift (charisma) is “grace-enablement” or “gracelet.” Each gift is a little droplet of the grace of God pouring through the Holy Spirit in us. Each gift is the grace of God in a different form.
The purpose of these gifts is clear–to serve others. They aren’t given to us to serve ourselves or our own glory. They are meant to give glory to God as we serve others. They are divine enablements that empower us to built others up. They are gracelets that operate in our lives so that we can love others well. We are to steward these gifts, knowing that they didn’t originate in us but came from the Holy Spirit. They are things we try to steward well as a way of honoring the Source from which they came. The whole purpose of having and using these gifts is that “in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
To not use the gifts we’ve been given and to not grow in the gifts we’ve used is just as dishonoring to God as misusing the gifts of the Spirit. We all are wary of gifted people who misuse their gift in a way that is selfish and destructive. But are we as wary of those who never use the gifts they’ve been given? Are we as wary of those who have the seedling form of a gift but never allow it to grow through the use and development of that gift? Both misuse and un-use of the gifts of the Spirit are damaging to the Body of Christ.
We can’t be so afraid of misuse that we scare people into never using and developing their gifts. Living in this kind of fear paralyzes the Church. We need healthy risk-taking and discerning wisdom that allows room for mistakes and yet creates an environment of growth for the gifts. This is the only way gifts can flourish and mature into health.