Thursday, March 8, 2012

Service, Helps, Leading, and Administrations - Part 7 of Spiritual Gifts

First, I’d like to make a quick addendum to the last post – I realized I emphasized the spiritual gift of faith in the context of the individual, but I neglected to mention how it fulfills the purpose of edifying the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
A person with the gift of faith can serve as a great example to other believers, because it will provide them with a living picture of God’s fulfilled promises and what walking with God looks like in action.  In this, it can prompt other believers to grow in their own faith.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming. ;-)

Today’s base verses

Since we’re dealing with four gifts today, we likewise have a few verses:

Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.
1 Peter 4:11

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:8

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations,
1 Corinthians 12:28

Service and Helps

Service is the Greek word diakoneo, meaning to minister to, care, serve, and wait on.  It carries the specific connotation of a lowly servant, as Jesus described Himself at the last supper (remember, he humbles himself so low as to wash their feet there):

And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  But no so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.  For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves?  Is it not the one who reclines at the table?  But I am among you as the one who serves.”
Luke 22:25-27

And as He gives instructions to His disciples a short while before the Last Supper:

"He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."
John 12:26

The gift of helps, by contrast, is the Greek word antilempsis, meaning a laying hold of or help; its root means to take instead of or to take hold of.  In other words, it seems to carry the connotation of taking somebody else’s burden so they don’t have to do it.

Now, these gifts seem very closely related, but because the Bible uses totally unrelated words to describe them, we know they are somehow distinct.  Because I am not some sort of Greek scholar and my resources are not providing any extra details on this subject, the following is my interpretation, an educated guess (as opposed to my other discussions of the Greek language, which I am able to pull from my personal knowledge and various resources).  I think the difference between service and helps is: service involves acts of humility, doing the dirty work, serving a large group of people; helps involves helping specific people in impactful ways by taking specific burdens off of them and performing them yourself.

Now, as for a real-world example of these gifts in action, I would point you to the deacons and deaconesses in the church – the people who are generally in charge of cleaning, setting up chairs, handing out flyers, doing yard work, etc. (I would align this most closely with service).  We see this in the Bible in Acts 6:2-6:

2 And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables […not desirable to take time away from preaching and teaching to spend our time feeding the widows, but that work also needs to be done].
3 But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, and man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit [the first martyr], and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

One final note on this subject – it is clear that we are all called to a certain degree of service (see above verses from Luke and John).  However, as we have discussed before, sometimes a spiritual gift is a heightened  ability and desire to perform whatever task, and I believe that is definitely the case here – confirmed in 1 Peter 4:11 by the addition of “as by the strength which God provides.”

Leading and Administration

The Greek word for lead is proistemi, meaning to put before or have charge over, and the word for administrations is kubernesis, meaning steering, guiding, government, administration.  Unfortunately, these specific words are not used anywhere else in the New Testament, so I am not able to provide more specific definitions.  The sense I get from the definitions, however (another case of an educated guess), is that leading has to do more with leading on a personal level (like being a spiritual leader to someone – guiding them in their walk, being an encouragement, serving as an example), whereas administration is more like leading in the context of being in charge of some sort of ministry (organizing functions, delegating tasks to others, etc.).  Sorry I can’t be certain. :-)

Although the gifts of leadership and administration are probably most easily recognizable in highly visible positions like a pastor, I believe that based on their simple definitions, they could take a variety of forms.  For example, do you know a Christian who is a good mentor, or a believer who’s good at getting people and things organized for church events (for example)?  These people may have the gifts of leading and administration, respectively.

Let’s make this a conversation!

Do you have a different take on any of the gifts we discussed today?  The definitions we have are kind of vague, so there’s definitely room for lots of different views – I’d love to hear your opinion! :-)

Do you, or anyone you know, have any of the spiritual gifts we talked about today?

Can you think of more examples in which any of today’s spiritual gifts might be applied?


Two quick things:

We’re nearing the end of our look into spiritual gifts.  I’m going to have to “pray it out” some more and see what book the Holy Spirit leads me to do a study on next, but right now I’m thinking it’s Matthew.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m compiling our spiritual gift posts into one whopping article on the ribbon up above.  But, I personally don’t think it looks all that great and isn’t overly easy to use.  So, if you get a chance to glance at it, please let me know what I could do to make it more visually appealing and (especially) easier to use.  Thanks!

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