Listen To Most Current
Grace Notes Archive
May 2022 (3)
April 2022 (7)
March 2022 (4)
February 2022 (4)
January 2022 (5)
December 2021 (5)
November 2021 (4)
October 2021 (5)
September 2021 (4)
August 2021 (4)
July 2021 (6)
June 2021 (4)
May 2021 (5)
April 2021 (4)
March 2021 (5)
February 2021 (4)
January 2021 (5)
December 2020 (4)
November 2020 (4)
October 2020 (5)
September 2020 (4)
August 2020 (5)
July 2020 (21)
June 2020 (29)
May 2020 (28)
April 2020 (31)
March 2020 (5)
February 2020 (4)
January 2020 (5)
December 2019 (5)
November 2019 (3)
October 2019 (5)
September 2019 (4)
August 2019 (5)
July 2019 (4)
June 2019 (5)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (6)
January 2019 (4)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (3)
June 2018 (4)
May 2018 (4)
April 2018 (4)
March 2018 (4)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (5)
October 2017 (4)
September 2017 (5)
August 2017 (4)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (5)
May 2017 (4)
April 2017 (5)
March 2017 (3)
February 2017 (4)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (5)
November 2016 (4)
October 2016 (4)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
June 2016 (5)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (5)
March 2016 (4)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (5)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (4)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (4)
August 2015 (5)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (2)
March 2015 (4)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (4)
November 2014 (5)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (4)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (4)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (4)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (4)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (5)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (4)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (4)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (4)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (5)
December 2010 (4)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (4)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (4)
January 2010 (5)
December 2009 (5)
November 2009 (3)
October 2009 (6)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (5)
July 2009 (4)
June 2009 (4)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (4)
January 2009 (5)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (5)
October 2008 (4)
September 2008 (5)
August 2008 (4)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (4)
March 2008 (5)
February 2008 (1)
Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

GIFTS AND GRACES
by Philip Owen

            Though in the New Testament there seems to be a certain overlapping of both meaning and usage of the Greek words translated gift and grace depending upon emphasis, there is a disctinction that ought to be recognized for its practical application in the lives of Christians.  Someone has observed that a gift is "a divine gratuity, an unsought endowment, whereas a grace, though equally the product of God's work, is "a Spirit-created disposition in which man's will plays a part."  In other words, regardless of what word or words might be used, the Scriptures recognize a distinction between what God bestows on a believer and what the believer does with it.  The distinction does not lie so much in the word or words used to describe the concept as it does in the practical need to recognize the distinctions and behave accordingly.  For the sake of simplicity and exhortation, then, we will suggest the following.

 

           What God bestows on believers.  We may call these “gifts.”  The overlap lies in the fact that they are surely the product of grace.  The distinction lies in the fact that the Spirit of God distributes these “to every man severally as he will” (I Cor. 12:11).  The gifts listed in the passage quoted here are spiritual gifts.  But the same may be said of all that God bestows.  Some are gifted with beauty, some with manual dexterity and physical prowess.  Some receive from God the gift of mental acuity.  Some have artistic, musical, or speaking ability, the ability to make money, and on and on.  But in each case, the person endowed with the gift or gifts has done nothing to earn or deserve it.  God has simply been pleased to bestow it upon him or her in demonstration of His grace and love.

 

            What believers do with God’s bestowal.  We may call these “graces.”  That word acknowledges both that without Him we can do nothing and that with Him (and His gifts) we are to do something.  To speak in popular, rather than theological terms, then, a free gift from God becomes a grace when we surrender ourselves to the Lord to use us and the gifts He has given us in His service as He sees fit for His glory.

 

            Far too many Christians mistake gift for grace or misuse altogether the gifts that God has given them.  The person with a beautiful voice who sings “Ave Maria” may be manifesting the fact that God has given her a gift.  But she is misusing that gift.  However, the person who sings as her testimony the hymn “Only a Sinner” is manifesting a grace.  It is both sad and harmful to use the gifts of God for our own purposes and to our own advantage.  Sometimes the distinctions are subtle.  It is possible apparently to use the gifts of God in His service when, in reality, we are serving ourselves.  Do we preach the Word, teach a Sunday School class, sing a special, or give because we love the Lord and desire His glory?  Or are we using the gifts He has given us to impress others, gain their praise, or win their affection?  The former is a grace, the latter a misuse of gift.

 

            There is no correlation between “giftedness” and usefulness or effectiveness in the Lord’s service.  Paul honestly commends the Corinthian church for their gifts:  “I thank my God . . . that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge . . . So that ye come behind in no gift” (I Cor. 1:4-7; see also II Cor. 8:7).  Immediately following the commendation, he rebukes them for the divisions that exist in their midst (vv. 10 ff.).  And much of the remainder of the letter involves the correction of doctrinal error, carnal attitudes, and unscriptural practices.  Despite their gifts, the Corinthian church stood at the apex of problem churches in the New Testament.  The existence of gifts may foster pride, dissension, and a host of other sins in undedicated breasts.  On the other hand, the humble serving of the Lord—“grace” if you will—glorifies the Lord and edifies the church.  We are told nothing about the giftedness of the “churches of Macedonia”, but Paul commends them because in their poverty they manifested the grace of generous giving.  A gift is useless or worse—harmful—if not used by one with a submissive heart.  But a cup of cold water given in the name of the Lord blesses the donor, the recipient, and the Lord.

 

            May those who seem to have impressive gifts not think that their possession makes them better than others who seem to have fewer.  And may we all, whether the recipients of many or few gifts, not think that we have the right to use God’s gifts for our selfish purposes.  But may we with grace in our hearts seek only to honor our Savior and Lord.

Actions: E-mail | Permalink

Previous Page | Next Page