Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy…
I. THOSE OF WHOM THE APOSTLE SPEAKS. Members of Christ's body, i.e., the Church (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
1. But what is the Church? Ask Roman Catholics, the members of the Greek Church, some members of our own Church, or the various sects, they would claim each for themselves the title of the Church. Now these are equally wrong. The Church here spoken of is no particular ecclesiastical government whatsoever, but the spiritual Church of God's elect throughout the whole world.
2. Here is the test of Church membership — "the measure of faith." No person is a member of this Church but a true believer, nor can he exercise the gifts here spoken of except he has "the gift" of faith. The apostle's illustration of the human body is totally inapplicable to the nominal Church. No such sympathy can be exercised unless men be mentally and morally conformed to God. Again, the string of spiritual duties inculcated in the text cannot be performed by mere nominal Christians. If you want a description of real Church members, read the opening address of almost every Epistle.
II. THE PERSONS OF WHOM THE APOSTLE SPEAKS ARE ALL POSSESSED OF GIFTS.
1. The time would fail me to tell of the gifts of God to individual members of His Church — outward gifts, such as station, property, influence, talent; official gifts, gifts of prophecy, of instruction, or those more directly spiritual gifts accumulated in the Church.
2. But the point of the passage is its reference to the diversity of gifts. Sometimes they almost appear to be capricious; one man rich, another poor; one richly gifted, another next akin to idiotcy; some with dispositions very amiable, others just the reverse. Spiritual gifts are not equally given to all. Some have such views of truth, such contemplations of heavenly things, that they seem to be admitted within the veil. Others seem just the reverse, going on heavily, and oftentimes cast down. So it is with all spiritual knowledge and attainments. This point is illustrated under the figure of the human body. What harmony, yet what diversity there! There is the head, the seat of wisdom; the countenance, of feeling and animation; then the various limbs or members of the body, more or less honourable; yet is the whole fitly framed together, each part marvellously adjusted to the other, and all mutually dependent.
3. But the most striking thought is that all are gifts of God. Money we may have earned by our own intelligence and diligence, but God gave us that diligence and intelligence. So with regard to our station in life. So most preeminently with His spiritual gifts. If we have any knowledge of the Scriptures, it is revealed to us by the Spirit of God.
4. Mark the lessons.
(1) The least of God's gifts are talents entrusted to us, and should not be despised. Do not despise the day of small things, and say, "I have nothing," or "I can do nothing." Perhaps, too, there is a greater danger of our despising small gifts in others.
(2) These talents being the gift of God, we must not be unduly elated by them (ver. 3; 1 Corinthians 4:7). How humbling the thought that we have nothing we can call our own!
(3) The lowest gifts are as much God's as the highest. He that planted the sun in the firmament taught the little glow-worm to shine on the summer bank. He that raises up the most talented to fill with honour distinguished situations is the same God that puts the candle in the cottage and bids it shine there. How encouraging is this to the weakest, the poorest, the youngest!
III. IT IS THEIR DUTY AND PRIVILEGE TO CONSECRATE THOSE GIFTS TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. As masters and servants, parents and children, brothers and sisters, as individual members of Christ's universal Church, we have each gifts entrusted to us; and whether our talents be few or many, feeble or strong, they are the gifts of God, and must be thrown by us into the common treasury of the Church for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Parallel VersesKJV: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;