LifeWay Bible Studies for Life Series for October 9: Dancing in the end zone

LifeWay Bible Studies for Life Series for October 9: Dancing in the end zone focuses on Luke 5:17-26, 29-32.

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Does it annoy you when someone showboats in the end zone after making a touchdown? It’s as if he’s saying, “Look at me … see what I’ve done.” Seemingly forgotten in such exhibitionism is the person who threw the ball, those who blocked and those who served as decoys. It took an entire team—each fulfilling their assignment—to score a touchdown, so why should one showboating individual take all the credit?

The same is true of a church. It takes every member fulfilling his or her assignment, and what’s at stake is much more important than a touchdown.

In Romans 12:3-8, the Apostle Paul tells us Christ ministers to the world through us. We’re his hands, his feet and his voice. Paul says that because of what God did for us— his mercy shown to us—we should present our bodies as living sacrifices, which would be the proper spiritual act of worship for such mercy. So guided by the Holy Spirit, we have an obligation to completely surrender our lives to the Lord.

In fact, God won’t fully use us in the body of Christ until we make a complete surrender of our gifts to him. Such surrender involves total dedication.

In 2 Timothy 4:6, Paul tells his protégé, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering … .” Old Testament priests would make a certain mixture as a drink offering and then pour it upon the altar. It was symbolic of what each of us is to do with our life; to pour it out upon the altar of service to God. This pouring out involves a radical separation from the world.

Our inner transformation, or salvation, begins as an inside job. We never outwardly change until we inwardly change. Our behavior isn’t altered until our thinking is altered.

“Talk is cheap.” We can talk about total dedication, radical separation and inner transformation, but the proof is in the pudding. We all have spiritual gifts, given to us at salvation, but we can’t be sure of what ours are until we’ve poured our life out on the altar, until we’ve surrendered our life to use those gifts in his service.

In his Roman letter, Paul completely destroys the idea a person can be committed to Christ but not active in Christ’s church or that a person can love the Lord but not obey him. God made it abundantly clear we’re all under the same obligation. No one is excluded from serving with the gifts he has given them. Serving with humility, not by showboating in the end zone.

Some people suffer from low self-esteem, but a greater problem is thinking too highly of oneself. Some people tend to want to magnify the gift God gave them, to feel valuable and indispensible, as if they deserve special recognition. When a person gets in that mode, they feel as if they don’t need the other parts of the body.

Paul had a lot to say about this, including a passage found in 1 Corinthians 12:20-26: “As it is, there are many parts but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensible, and the parts that are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Paul isn’t giving us a lesson on anatomy; he’s talking about the church. He continues by saying, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

There are no unimportant parts in the body of Christ.  Every part is needed for the body to function properly, so don’t magnify your gift above that of others. We need each other, and if we get to thinking the church can’t function without our gift, God will find someone without such pride to replace us.

There’s a fine line here, because you also shouldn’t minimize your gift. Some people constantly belittle themselves because they’re fishing for compliments, and they exhibit a false sense of modesty to elicit those compliments. That’s a form of pride, too. And, of course, some people minimize their gift in an effort to get out of using it, and other people genuinely think they can’t be used.

You may not be the pretty eyes, lovely voice or flowing hair in the body of Christ. Maybe you’re just the big toe, but without your big toe the church would have no balance. Its equilibrium would be out of whack.

Humility keeps us from misplacing our gift.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be used in an area where you’re not gifted. So, somewhere along the line, decide whether you’re working for the glory of God or for the praise of men.

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