BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner” (Acts 9:36-43 NKJV).
In this passage of the Scripture, we see two believers using the different gifts God had given them. The first being Dorcas and the second, Peter. I want to talk first about Dorcas.
Dorcas used her gift
Dorcas had a special gift of compassion and giving which she used generously blessing the poor especially the widows. That was a commendable act on her part. She was like Mary who anointed Jesus with the expensive alabaster oil; she did what she could do (Mark 14:3-9). Mary could not prevent the religious leaders from killing Jesus. She could not even go to ask for His body for burial (that was an assignment for someone else) but she could anoint Jesus’ feet with that expensive oil. She gave what she had, and Heaven gave her an eternal reward, which includes the mention of her good deed till today. She did what she could!
Back to Dorcas! There was no record that Dorcas laid hands on the sick to heal them; she did not raise the dead. She, however, did what she could do. She used her gift of generosity. She blessed the poor. Dorcas was not a believer in words alone; she was a believer in deeds. She acted out her faith in God by showing the love of God to the less privileged. “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16 NLT). Her faith was not a dead faith; it was a living faith.
James 2:20 says, “Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?” (NLT). Verse 26 adds, “Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds” (NLT).
Dorcas was not a fool! She possessed the wisdom of God, which embodies among others mercy and good deeds. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds” (NLT).
Heaven noted Dorcas’ good deeds just as Heaven noted the generosity of Cornelius in Acts 10 and orchestrated his salvation and that of his household. Heaven also rewarded the generosity of Cornelius.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 says, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (NKJV). Dorcas did not give up in doing good until she gave up the ghost. Her life lived out Galatians 6:9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (NKJV). Dorcas used her God-given gift and did what she could do.
Peter used his gift
The second person in Acts 9:36-43 that I want to talk about is Peter. Upon the death of Dorcas, the disciples in Joppa sent for Peter, who was in Lydda, to come, believing he could bring Dorcas back to life. Asking everyone, including all the widows who were crying over the death of Dorcas, their benefactor, to leave the room, Peter knelt down and prayed. Dorcas was brought back to life. Peter presented her alive to the saints and widows. Here we see Peter using his own God given gift –the gift of special faith and working of miracles.
God has not given all Christians and ministers the same gifts. He has given us different gifts and we are to use the gifts He has given us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (NKJV).
The Bible likens the church (the body of Christ) to the human body which has many parts performing different functions, and the make-up and location of each part is determined by the functions it is supposed to perform. Every part is useful and no part can perform all functions; each can only do that which is given to it to do. All the parts work in cooperation and harmony – not in competition, and gifts are to be used to bless others not for selfish use. That is the summary of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
Romans 12 also talks about the different gifts that God has given believers in the body of Christ to use. These gifts are not the same, and believers are to use whatever gift God has given them. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4-8 NKJV).
Peter was able to identify his place in the body of Christ. He knew his part and used the gift that God had given him. He did not play the same role that Dorcas played but each was able to identify his or her place and functioned there. That is what God expects you to do.
Have you identified your gift? If you have, use it. Your gift may be different from that of another person but you cannot say you do not have any gift. The problem is always about using the gift God has given you. Paul told Timothy, his protégé in the ministry, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV).
Peter did not neglect his gift. He identified it and used it. Like he said to the man at the Beautiful Gate born lame from his mother’s womb, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 NKJV). One can say Dorcas had silver and gold, which she used generously to support the poor and the widows. On the other hand, Peter had the gift of special faith and he used it, which led to Dorcas’ restoration to life. You do not have everything but certainly there is something you have – a particular gift, natural (natural ability or talent) or spiritual (gift of the Holy Spirit).
The parable of the talents
In the parable of the talents (money) in Matthew 25:14-30, the condemnation of the servant with one talent was occasioned by his refusal to use the talent given to him by his master. Each of them was given talents “according to his own ability” (verse 15).
The servant given five talents invested them and made profit of five talents, and the one given two talents invested them and made a profit of two more talents. But the servant given one talent wasted his energy, on digging the ground, and hid the money given to him by his master. He should have channeled the same energy into investing the money in a productive and profitable venture.
Rather than do this, the lazy and foolish servant accused his master when he returned from his journey and requested him to give account of the money he had been given. “Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is” (verses 24-25 NLT).
This unworthy servant got from his master what he rightly deserved, seeing he would not use what he had given him. “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (verses 26-30 NLT). Did you see what will happen to those who use their gifts well and those who’re unfaithful in using their gifts?
The story of the ten servants
There is a similar passage in Luke 19:11-27 – the story of the minas or the story of the ten servants. The master gave them ten minas (pounds), one mina (pound) for each servant, which was worth about three or four months’ wages of the average worker. The first and the second servants worked with theirs and made profits of additional ten and five minas, respectively. Upon his return, the master commended the servant who earned ten and five minas in return, and gave them ten cities and five cities, respectively, to govern (verses 17, 19).
“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘I hid it and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant” (Luke 19:20-21 NLT). Why did he hide the money given him when his colleagues were making profit using theirs? He said he was afraid – afraid of his master who trusted him and gave the same amount like he gave others? Why were others not afraid? He described his master as a hard man to deal with, taking what was not his and harvesting crops he did not plant. What other meaning would one give that other than that his master was a thief! What an allegation! Only this servant described his master this way.
This odd man out of the servants got what he deserved. Just like the other servant in the parable of talents, who did not use his own talent, the master condemned him. “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Hard, am I? If you knew so much about me and how tough I am, why didn’t you deposit the money in the bank so I could at least get some interest on it?’ Then turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who earned the most’” (verses 22-24 NLT). The king went further in verse 26 to say, “those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away” (NLT). Again, did you see what will happen to those who are unfaithful in the use of gifts and talents given them? If you want to receive “well done, good servant” from God, use your gifts optimally.
What is the LORD saying to you?
What the LORD is saying to you in this message is to use the gift He has given you optimally. Romans 11:29 says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). Another translation puts it thus: “God never changes his mind about the people he calls and the things he gives them” (NCV). However, where someone fails to take his place in the body to use his gifts, he becomes irrelevant as God gives the assignment to someone. Therefore, fulfil ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). As Paul the apostle said to Archippus, I also say to you, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it” (Colossians 4:17 NKJV).
Do not neglect your gift. No gift is inferior is to the other. There are many people in church today who just sit down in church, believing they don’t have any gift or look down on themselves because of the areas of service their gifts are appropriate for. Do not despise the gift that God has given you, even if the area of service is not prominent. That does not make your service unimportant.
I like what God’s servant, Reinhard Bonnke, said on service. He said, “Nobody should hold back or quench the Spirit by pretending to be humble and not wanting the limelight, or by doing nothing until they ‘feel led’ – or forced. Some people seem not to ‘feel led’ as often as they ought to be or as often as would help a church. Too many people not ‘feel led’ makes a meeting feel like lead. Somebody said that the difference between early Christians and later ones is that the early ones felt more led more often” (Mighty Manifestations Pp 73-74). It is a sin not to use the gifts God has given you.
It is also a sin to use your God-given gifts for ungodly causes. For instance, there’re those using their gift of singing and communication to produce works that do not edify people, works that destroy their lives and the lives of others, works that glorify the devil rather than God. This is a perversion of destiny. God will reward everyone appropriately for using his gifts and for how he uses it. Do not be too humble, lazy or ignorant not to use your gift. And do not let Satan hijack your God-given gifts to serve his own purpose.
Do not be covetous of the gifts of others while you despise or hide your gifts. Use your gifts according to the ability that God has given you. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV). The Living Bible puts verse 10 thus: “God has given each of you special abilities, be sure to use them to help each other, passing to others God’s many kinds of blessings.” Use your gifts wisely and selflessly to serve God and humanity.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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