“Too Many Cooks…”
Mr. Carlton W. Truax of Columbia, S.C.. is a journalist and editor/manager of the S. C. Insurance News Service.
The dishes were unwashed. The beds were unmade. The furniture was undusted. The floors were unswept.
In fact, the whole house was in a bad state of repair. But the lawn… Out of doors all the children were taking turns riding the new lawn mower.
The dishwasher had become a lawn mower. The bed maker had abandoned the beds for the lawn. The polisher and sweeper had both given themselves the title of Lawn Barbers.
And the one whose appointed task it was to mow the lawn was sitting under a shade tree watching while the dishwasher, bed maker, furniture polisher, and floor sweeper did his work for him.
And, because only one of the children knew how to operate the lawn mower properly, the lawn was being poorly mowed.
Then mother came home from shopping to find that none of the children had really done “that good and acceptable and perfect will” of their parents.
Look at the twelfth chapter of Romans. Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell those of us who have been given “gifts of the Spirit” “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ‘serving,’ for the edifying of the body of Christ?” (Eph. 4:12).
The Holy Spirit is telling us about the work He wants us to do, and verse three, which is generally ignored, is vitally important.
In verses six through eight, He has inspired Paul to write, “having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ‘serving’ (that’s the real meaning of “ministry”) let us wait on our ‘serving’; or he that teacheth on teaching; or he that exhorteth on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”
But before He gives us these instructions, He lays out the basic principle of verse three which is grafted into “that good, acceptable and perfect will of God” by the little word “for.”
Then, to emphasize the importance of what He is about to say, the Holy Spirit requires Paul to exercise his apostolic authority. “I say, through the grace given unto me.” There are three Scriptural meanings of the word “grace.” First, it is the unmerited favor of God whereby we are saved and by which God in Christ Jesus blesses us with all spiritual blessings. Second, it means “lovely.” And third, “a grace” is a gift.
The position given to him was the gift of an apostle as the “grace” in verse six is a description of other gifts given to other saints.
The importance of verse three is, therefore, stressed as Paul writes, “For I say on the authority of my gift as an apostle …” He is much too much of a gentleman to “pull rank” on these Roman saints in that way. Modestly and politely he softens it. But the authority is there.
Now what is the apostolic instruction?
If I might be allowed to paraphrase verse three:
“Do not pretend to have a spiritual gift that you do not have, but honestly evaluate the gift that God has given you.”
Then verse four goes on to say, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the ‘grace-gift’ that is given to us …”
The work in the “House of God” is not getting done because we are ignoring verse three. All the doers of the chores around the house who have “gifts differing according to the grace that is given” are all outdoors mowing the lawn.
They are thinking “more highly” of themselves than they ought to think. They are not thinking “soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” They are not honestly and prayerfully evaluating the grace of God to them, and then they wonder why they do not know what is “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
And further, they wonder why the work of the church is not getting done.
How can the work get done when His dishwashers, bed makers, floor sweepers and furniture dusters are all out-of-doors trying to mow lawns, and lawn mowers are sitting on the side waiting for their turn?
No man will ever be doing God’s “good, acceptable and perfect will” who is trying to do something God has not called him to do. A man who is preaching when God has dealt to him the gift of service is disobeying God. A man whose gift is ruling is not in God’s will if he tries to teach. A man whose gift is “showing mercy” is out of the will of God in the pulpit.
Not only that, but he who tries to exercise spiritual gifts he does not have is despising the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is telling the Holy Spirit His gift is worthless. “I don’t like it and I won’t use it.”
The Spirit of God gives no worthless gifts.
There are at least 21 gifts of the Spirit listed in the Scriptures. That is not necessarily all of them. Flying an airplane to supply missionaries in the jungle is not listed. Neither is operating a Christian Radio Station. Yet those who are called to these ministries are gifted of the Holy Spirit to do the perfect will of God.
Saints are coveting the “best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31) but neglecting the others. They are saying, “Because I am an ear and not an eye, ‘I am, not of the body’; I have nothing to do.”
The body of Christ needs both eyes and ears. The tongue may well be the most important part of the body, but it could hardly do without hands to serve and feet to visit.
Among the most important things a saint can do is discover the gift or gifts that God has given to him or her. There is no possible way you can do God’s perfect will until you find out what the Holy Spirit has done for you.
The problem is, many saints have not unwrapped the gift the Holy Spirit has given them. They assume, without looking inside the wrapping, that because they have a gift, it must be the gift of “preaching.”
How can the work get done when pastors, servers, givers, showers of mercy, helpers and rulers are all trying to be prophets and teachers? How can the work get done when too many saints are of the opinion that only those who speak can serve the body? All saints are gifted, but multitudes live their lives without ever knowing what their gift is or in trying to be something they are not.
As Paul was absolutely convinced that he was a God-called apostle, so every saint should be able to know his calling and that gift will be recognized and confirmed by the saints in the assembly.
But if your calling is preaching, then preach; if serving, then serve; if teaching, then teach; if exhorting, then exhort; if giving, then give; if ruling, then rule; if showing mercy, then show mercy, for it is hypocrisy to try to be something you are not.
An old saying is, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” That is as true in the assembly as it is in the kitchen.
The Head of the Church gives gifted men to the assemblies according to their needs. It seems altogether unreasonable to believe that He will give more gifted men to an assembly than that assembly can use or that He is going to assign gifts to an assembly that are never or infrequently used.
If these assumptions are true, then one of two things naturally follow in “families” where there are too many mowers of lawns and not enough washers of dishes. It naturally follows that either some of those who think they are mowers of lawns are really dishwashers who are “thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think,” or, there are some mowers of lawns who do not belong in that family but need to move out to find an assembly which needs and will use a good lawn mower.
To make it very plain, if these assumptions are true, the two things naturally follow in assemblies where there are too many “preachers” and not enough “pastors”; too many exhorters and not enough servers; in assemblies where all the work is not being done.
It naturally follows that either some of those who think they are “preachers” are really showers of mercy, servers or rulers who have not unwrapped the Holy Spirit’s gift to them. Or, some of the surplus “preachers” in some of the assemblies need to move out to find places where the gift they have can be used and will be recognized by the assembly.