SPIRITUAL GIFTS SERIES
The Spiritual Gift of Service
Class of Gift: Serving
“if service, in his serving;”
Romans 12:7, Page 1775
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1.1 Every Born-Again Christian Has at Least One Spiritual Gift. Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received a spiritual gift from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, page 1796). Please recall also that one spiritual gift may have a variety of ministries (“διακονιῶν”), with a variety of spiritual effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, page 1796). Therefore, if you have the Spiritual Gift of Service, that single gift may result in a variety of ministries, producing a variety of effects. Furthermore, if you have the Spiritual Gift of Service, your ministry may look very different from another believer with the same gift of service. Your ministries of the same spiritual gift may produce very different effects. So, one gift may result in different ministries, and each ministry may produce very different spiritual effects. Every local assembly should be known for its service (“διακονίαν“), just as the Church at Thyatira was commended by God for its service (Revelation 2:19, page 1916).
1.2 Meaning of the Term “Service.” The term used to describe the gift of service in Romans 12:7, page 1775, literally means to serve others, especially by following the commands of others (“διακονίαν”). In Romans 12:7, page 1775, Paul did not define this term. So, I conclude that Paul recognized that his readers would be familiar with the normal usage of this term “serving,” preserved for us in Scripture, and the other uses would help us understand this Spiritual Gift of Service.
1.3 Service and the Spiritual Gifts. All believers must know and use their spiritual gifts. All believers, not just the pastors and church leaders, perform the work of service (“διακονίας”). That “service” must continue until all the saints attain the unity of the faith and achieve spiritual maturity. That “service” also protects believers from being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, and the craftiness of deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:12-13, page 1831). While all believers must perform the work of service, only some believers have the Spiritual Gift of Service, bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon some, but not all, believers as gift of grace which works according to His power (Ephesians 3:7, page 1829).
1.4 The New Testament Diversity of the Term “Service The Greek term translated here as service has diverse applications in the New Testament. As you read through these varying uses of the term “service” and related words, please keep in mind that I interpret these passages below as examples, on the one hand, of spiritual activities all believers will do at times; but, on the other hand, the person with the Spiritual Gift of Service in the forms described below will have a special gift from God to edify believers and build up unity in their service. Let us explore some of those uses to gain insight into the different ways God gifts people to serve in His name and in His ministry to the Body of Christ. We will see below that the Spiritual Gift of Service involves different major areas of ministry. We will look at them one at a time.
The Ministry of Service: Foundations
2.1 Service: Basic Meaning. Service has a broad range of meaning in the New Testament. It includes a monetary gift, an office, a lifestyle, an attitude, the work of a person who humbles himself to exalt God, and the acts of a person who follows the commands of others.
2.2 Jesus: The Perfect Example of Service. Jesus lived as a perfect example of so many spiritual gifts. He was completely and continually filled with the Holy Spirit and possessed all the spiritual gifts. He used those spiritual gifts perfectly.
2.2.1 Jesus Service: Serves Me, Follows Me. Jesus provided a very short and powerful summary of true service to God: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26, page 1681).
2.2.2 Jesus Service: Serve, Not Be Served. As the disciples argued among themselves regarding greatness, Jesus explained to them that greatness among believers comes from being the servant of believers. Jesus then declared that He came to serve (“διακονῆσαι”), and not be served (“διακονηθῆνα”). Service for Jesus included giving His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, page 1537; see also Mark 10:45, page 1579). Jesus served everyone. Jesus became a servant (” διάκονον“) to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God so that both Jews and Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy.
2.2.3 Jesus: Servant of All. Jesus commanded His disciples to distinguish themselves from the rulers of the Gentiles in two important ways. His disciples would: (1) never lord themselves over others; and (2) never exercise authority over them. Whoever wishes to be greatest among His disciples must be servant of all (Matthew 20:26, page 1537; Matthew 23:11, page 1542; Mark 9:35, page 1576; Mark 10:43-45, page 1579). Jesus demonstrated perfect service in serving the disciples at the Last Supper. He told his disciples that the leader (“ὁ ἡγούμενος“) must become like the servant (“ὁ διακονῶν“) (Luke 22:26, page 1645). Jesus described Himself as the One Who serves (“ὁ διακονῶν“) (Luke 22:27, page 1645).
2.2.4 Jesus Service: Future. When Jesus comes back to earth, He will find some on alert, expecting His return. At that time, Jesus will gird Himself and serve (“διακονήσει“) them, just as He did before He left (Luke 12:37, page 1625; John 13:5-20, pages 1682-1683).
2.3 The Faithful Requirement of Ministry. Paul explained that he thanked Christ Jesus the Lord, Who strengthened (“ἐνδυναμώσαντί“) Paul, because the Lord considered Paul faithful (“πιστόν”), putting Paul into service (“διακονίαν”) for Jesus (1 Timothy 1:12, pages 1854-1855). Therefore, we see that Jesus took a violent aggressor, blasphemer and persecutor of the Lord Jesus and put him into ministry. God considered Paul faithful and put Paul into ministry. God has called every believer into a ministry to use that person’s spiritual gift(s) to the glory of God. We must all be found faithful to God, so that God will use each of us in a ministry tailored precisely to make the most effective use of our spiritual gift(s) for the Lord Jesus. We minister by faith. See also Tychicus, the faithful minister (Ephesians 6:21, page 1834).
2.4 Stewardship. Paul considered himself a minister (“διάκονος”) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the church, according to “the stewardship from God bestowed” on him for the benefit of believers (Colossians 1:25, page 1842). Paul served as a steward of the mystery of Christ in the Gentiles, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:25-27, page 1842). The stewardship also included proclaiming Christ, and admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that Paul may present the believers complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28, page 1842). Likewise, Paul considered Timothy a good servant (“διάκονος”) of Christ Jesus, if Timothy would point out the teachings of Christ to the brethren, and so nourish himself (1 Timothy 4:6, page 1857). Because each believer has received a special gift, each believer must employ it in serving (“διακονοῦντες”) one another as a good steward of God (1 Peter 4:10, page 1898).
2.5 The Receipt and Fulfillment of Ministry. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Ministry has received a ministry, but the person must take care to trust the Lord to bring such ministry to completion, by consistent work and labor, often with others.
2.5.1 Archippus. Archippus serves as an excellent example of two aspects of ministry (“διακονίαν”) (Colossians 4:17, page 1846). Paul commanded Archippus to “Take heed” (“Βλέπε“) to the ministry (“διακονίαν”) which you have “received in the Lord” (“παρέλαβες ἐν κυρίῳ”), to fulfill it (“πληροῖς“). The Lord bestows a ministry upon a person as a free gift. Yet, the Lord commands us to be sure that we fulfill that ministry and bring it to fullness and completion.
2.5.2 Timothy. Consider also Paul’s command to Timothy, the spiritual son of Paul. Paul commanded Timothy to be sober in all things, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill (“πληροφόρησον”) his ministry (“διακονίαν”). Timothy did not appear to have the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism, but he was commanded to do the work of an evangelist. Like Timothy, we may not have the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism, but we must consistently share our faith in Christ as part of our ministry. Like Archippus, Paul wanted Timothy to fulfill his ministry and not quit early, as Timothy faced hardships. We all need a Paul in our lives to encourage us to fulfill the ministry bestowed upon us. Part of that endurance to fulfill our ministry includes being sober (“νῆφε”) and enduring hardships (“κακοπάθησον”), without being so discouraged we forsake our ministry for Christ, who endured all things for us.
2.5.3 Mark. Paul and Barnabas took Mark with them on the first missionary journey. Mark abandoned the ministry team (Acts 13:13, page 1725), and separated Paul and Barnabas for the second missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take Mark, but Paul declined to take Mark because he had abandoned them before (Acts 15:37-41, page 1731). Well, much later in Paul’s life, Mark again became useful to Paul. In his closing years, Paul declared that Mark was again useful to Paul for service (“διακονίαν”). Often our ministry includes serving other believers in their ministry. We work together on one team, the church of Jesus Christ. Mark reminds us that we may stagger and fall at times in ministry, but God has a marvelous way of restoring believers to ministry.
2.5.4 Angels. As a side note, angels serve as ministering (“λειτουργικὰ“) spirits, sent out to render service (“διακονίαν”) to those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14, page 1870). During the lifetime of believers on earth, God sends angels to render service to believers. The angels do not have the Spiritual Gift of Service, but they still perform service as sent from God. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service should consider themselves as sent from God to use their spiritual gift to the glory of God. Just as good angels perform ministry for God to believers, so also servants (“διάκονοι“) of the devil disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15, page 1816).
2.6 Strength for Service. The Spiritual Gift of Service requires strength (“σχύος”) which only God supplies (“χορηγεῖ“) (1 Peter 4:11, page 1898). As stewards of the manifold grace of God, we employ our spiritual gifts to serve fellow believers.
2.7 Never Discredited. Paul remained very concerned that the ministry (“διακονία”) would never be discredited by the behavior of the participants (2 Corinthians 6:3, page 1810). The saints were to live giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry (“διακονία”) would not be discredited. Paul himself had great concern that, although a sinner himself, he would never be a minister of sin (“ἁμαρτίας διάκονος“) (Galatians 2:17, page 1821).
2.8 The King and the Servants. Kings spoke to their servants (“διακόνοις”) and the kings expected those servants to carry out their commands immediately (Matthew 22:13, page 1541). The link between masters and servants concerns obedience and doing the will of the master.
2.9 God Works Through Our Ministry. Paul related all the things God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry (Acts 21:19, page 1742). Notice that God did the work and received all the glory. The ministry (“διακονίας”) was accurately described as Paul’s ministry, without taking anything away from the work of God. God gave Paul that ministry to perform. We must be certain we never lose sight of the fact that God does the work of ministry.
2.10 Commending Ourselves. The work of servants (“διάκονοι“) of God means that those servants commend themselves as they suffer with endurance afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, and hunger. They also commend themselves as servants (“διάκονοι“) of God in purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God by the weapons of righteousness, and in other ways (2 Corinthians 6:4-10, page 1810). Believers show themselves to be servants (“διάκονοι“) of God by the fruit they bear in all circumstances. Paul and the other apostles suffered tremendous hardships as servants (“διάκονοι”) of God (2 Corinthians 11:23, page 1816).
The Ministry of Meals
3.1 Meal Preparation. The Spiritual Gift of Service includes preparing meals for other people. Preparing meals may distract a person from listening to Jesus. Believers should always choose the good part of sitting with Jesus (Luke 10:38-42, page 1620). In contrast, Mary’s sister Martha was distracted with all her preparations (“διακονίαν”); while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, Martha was busily preparing the food for the dinner guests. Although Martha worked hard, she was distracted from Jesus (Luke 10:40, page 1620). At any time our service distracts us from sitting and listening to Jesus, we may have a very big problem where our service has caused us to lose touch with Jesus Himself. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may be found sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Jesus, but ready to prepare a meal when Jesus requests the same.
3.2 Others First. The Spiritual Gift of Service means that the servant serves others first, particularly before they eat and drink themselves. Jesus told the story of the slave coming in from the field (Luke 17:1-9, page 1634). He emphasized that the master will say to the slave that you serve (“διακόνει”) first, and only then may the slave eat and drink. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service often eats and drinks after using their spiritual gift to benefit others first.
3.3 Selective Service. Not long after Jesus ascended to heaven, a complaint arose in Jerusalem that the widows of the Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked in the church’s daily service (“διακονίᾳ”) of food (Acts 6:1, page 1709). The twelve apostles declared that it was not desirable (“ἀρεστόν”) for them to neglect the word of God in order to serve (“διακονεῖν”) tables (Acts 6:2, page 1709). The twelve apostles, in conjunction with the congregation, then appointed seven men to be in charge of that ministry of serving tables. Notice the words “put in charge” (“καταστήσομεν”). The seven men were to be in charge of the ministry of feeding thousands, seeing to it that no one was overlooked. Meanwhile, the twelve apostles would devote themselves to the ministry (“διακονίᾳ”) of the word (Acts 6:4, page 1709). Meal preparation requires the faithful service of many people, each with their own ministry, just as the twelve apostles devoted themselves to their separate ministry of the word. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service will often labor under the direction of others, but perform their service to the glory of God, just like the others performing their service.
The Ministry of the Word
4.1 The Apostles. In the early church, the apostles devoted themselves to the ministry of the word (“τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου“) (Acts 6:4, page 1709). Instead of overseeing the daily service of food, the apostles chose to put other men in charge of the food ministry. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may be devoted to the ministry of the word through preaching in difficult circumstances and bearing witness for Christ before tribunals, with the prospect of persecution and death.
4.2 The Ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also described himself as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:23, page 1842). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have an evangelism ministry, and possess the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism. In Paul’s case, that ministry included spreading the Gospel all over the world.
The Ministry of Money
5.1 Relief for the Poor. The church at Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas to take money from the saints at Antioch to the Jerusalem church to help relieve the effects of the famine. In proportion to their means, the saints sent a contribution (“διακονίαν”) to Jerusalem (Acts 11:29, page 1722). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have the special ministry of raising and delivering money for the work of Jesus Christ, particularly in providing money to relieve the struggles of the poor or famine afflicted.
5.2 The Mission of Money. Paul and Barnabas returned from Jerusalem having fulfilled their “mission” (“διακονίαν“) to deliver the contribution from the saints at Antioch (Acts 12:25, page 1724). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have the special ability to perform missions for Jesus, delivering money or other things for the glory of God. Likewise, Macedonia and Achaia later in the ministry of Paul made a contribution for the relief of poverty in Jerusalem and sent it by Paul. Paul considered his part in raising and delivering that gift to be part of his service (“διακονία“) for Jerusalem (Romans 15:31, page 1780). As Paul went to Jerusalem, he considered such work “serving the saints” (“διακονῶν τοῖς ἁγίοις“) (Romans 15:25, page 1779). Similarly, the church at Corinth provided support for the saints (2 Corinthians 9:1, page 1813). The churches of Macedonia were begging with much urging for the favor of participation in support (“διακονίας“) of the saints (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, pages 1811-1812). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have the special ability to encourage believers in distant lands to raise money, and then the servant delivers the money as intended.
5.3 The Administration of Money. The Corinthian church had raised a generous gift to help the poor. Paul took precautions that no one would discredit the ministry team in the administration (“διακονουμένῃ”) of that gracious gift (2 Corinthians 8:19, pages 1812-1813). In this case, Paul understood that the raising, handling and delivery of the gift required careful administration, to avoid the appearance of impropriety (2 Corinthians 8:20-21, page 1813).
5.4. The Blessings of Giving. The ministry (“διακονία”) of supplying the needs of the saints results in overflowing glory to God. That ministry (“διακονίας”) provides proof of their obedience to their confession of Christ (2 Corinthians 9:13, pages 1813-1814).
The Ministry of Testimony
6.1 Testimony for Christ. Paul received a ministry (“διακονίαν”) from Jesus to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24, page 1741). We see an overlap between the spiritual gifts at times. In this case, Paul did the work of an evangelist and apostle, both spiritual gifts. He considered the work he performed to be a ministry, which he received from Jesus. The ministry he considered a gift from Jesus Christ. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have the special calling to perform a ministry, such as preaching the gospel of grace, and a team functions with the gifted person.
6.2 Tychicus. Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesian church to testify to the circumstances of Paul while imprisoned. Paul considered Tychicus a beloved brother and a faithful minister in the Lord (“πιστὸς διάκονος ἐν κυρίῳ“) (Ephesians 6:21, page 1834). Paul trusted Tychicus with a specific mission: (a) to make known to the Ephesians everything about Paul’s circumstances; (b) to comfort the hearts of the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:22, page 1834).
The Ministry to the Saints
7.1 The Household of Stephanus. Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Achaia (1 Corinthians 16:15, page 1803-1804). The Romans divided Greece into Macedonia and Achaia. Paul identified the household of Stephanus as the first fruits of Achaia. The household of Stephanus devoted (“ἔταξαν“) themselves to the ministry (“διακονίαν”) of the saints. In this case, the context helps us understand what it means to be devoted to the ministry of the saints. First, the saints (believers) at Corinth should be in “subjection (“ὑποτάσσησθε“) to such men and to everyone who helps in the works and labors”. The original text emphasizes the terms “fellow-workers” (“συνεργοῦντι“) and “laborers” (“κοπιῶντι”). Not only did this household work, but they worked very hard for the saints. Stephanus also brought monetary support (“what was lacking”) and spiritual refreshment (“ἀνέπαυσαν”). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Serving may function as part of a ministry team devoted to providing for the physical needs of the saints, as well as directing the efforts of others through coordination of different relief and supply efforts. The result of such ministry may provide monetary support and also refreshment for fellow-workers and laborers in the ministry. Such men should be acknowledged (“ἐπιγινώσκετε“)(1 Corinthians 16:18, page 1804).
7.2 The Ministry of the Hebrews. The writer to the Hebrews commended the Hebrews for their work and love shown toward the name of God. That love and work were described as “having ministered” (“διακονήσαντες“) and “still ministering” (“διακονοῦντες”) to the saints. The Hebrews were known for their past work of ministry and their continued work as saints who continually minister for the name of God, a very Hebrew expression referring to the honor and majestic deity of God (Hebrews 6:10, pages 1874-1875). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may be known for both their past and present service to the saints, implying that they perform not only isolated acts of service, but they perform continual, loving service for the saints as a way of life, using their spiritual gift. As always, all the saints are called by God to perform such service, but the person with the Spiritual Gift of Service will excel in this ministry to the saints continuously.
7.3 Timothy and Erastus. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia after they ministered (“διακονούντων”) to him (Acts 19:22, page 1738). Paul relied upon the faithful ministry of people to refresh him, help him, and carry gifts to and from him. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may be just like Timothy and Erastus in their service to Christ.
7.4 The Ministry of the Women. At the cross of Jesus, looking on at a distance, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and other women, witnessed the death of Jesus. They had been ministering (“διακονοῦσαι“) to Jesus and had followed Him from Galilee (Matthew 27:55, page 1553). Those women apparently joined other women, including Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, who were contributing to the support of Jesus and His disciples out of their private means (Luke 8:1-3, pages 1611-1612). Some women possessing the Spiritual Gift of Service may contribute to the support of believers out of their private means.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
8.1 The Rebirth and Reconciliation. Every believer becomes a new creation at they moment they are born again by faith alone in salvation through Jesus Christ. At that same moment, every believer receives a new ministry: the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19, page 1809).
8.2 The Ministry of Reconciliation. God gave all believers the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation means that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. More precisely, God was not counting the trespasses of sinners against them, but rather seeking the repentance of sinners so that they may be brought into a new relationship with God based upon saving faith. Because of sin, man must be reconciled to God. God has committed to us the word of reconciliation. We must act as ambassadors for Christ. We beg (“δεόμεθα”) people to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20, page 1809). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service will have a special ability to beg people to come to Christ and serve Christ as an ambassador, performing the ministry of reconciliation in bringing people to Christ as Savior.
The Ministry of Deacons
9.1 The Office of Deacon. In the New Testament, the local assembly had two offices: elders and deacons (“ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις“) (Philippians 1:1, page 1835). Writing to his child in the faith Timothy, Paul first discussed elders and Paul then turned to the office of deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13, page 1856). In 1 Timothy 3:8, the term “deacons” (“Διακόνους “) refers to males who perform special service generally, but as we have seen above, this service may take many forms. Among the qualifications of deacons (“διάκονοι”), they must be husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:12, page 1856). The office of deacons had special spiritual qualifications, which Paul described with particularity. The New Testament contains many references to the term “servant” and it most often refers to general service and not a specific office. In other words, the majority of times you read about a “servant” in the New Testament, you are not looking at someone holding the office of deacon, but rather doing the work of a servant. That “servant” may have the Spiritual Gift of Service, but all believers are called to be a servant of Jesus Christ.
9.2 The Difference between Office and Spiritual Gift. Strange as it may seem, not every person holding the office of deacon must posses the Spiritual Gift of Service. The office of deacon describes the service they perform, not the spiritual gift they possess. Deacons often have an oversight ministry, like the seven in Acts 6 concerning the oversight of feeding the widows. Those seven males were not required to serve the tables, but rather to be in charge of that ministry. Remember, too, that the apostles had their own sphere of service (“διακονίᾳ”), ministering the word. Therefore, we must be careful to distinguish “office” from “spiritual gift.” The spiritual gift of “pastor” does not equate to the office of “elder.” Likewise, the office of deacon does not equate to the spiritual gift of “service.” For example, some deacons may have the spiritual gift of evangelism (consider Philip the Evangelist; Acts 6:3, page 1709; Acts 8:4-6, page 1712; Acts 21:8, page 1742). Consider also Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Judas received his share in the ministry (“διακονίας”), but was never born-again (Acts 1:17, page 1700; John 17:12, page 1689). In fact, Judas Iscariot also held the office of apostle (“ἀποστολῆς”), and participated in the ministry (“διακονίας”) of the apostles with Christ (Acts 1:25, page 1700), but was never born-again.
9.3 The Rewards of Service as a Deacon. Those who have served well (“καλῶς διακονήσαντες”) as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing in the faith and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The Ministry to the Imprisoned
10.1 Philemon. During Paul’s imprisonment, Paul wrote to his friend Philemon, who had a church in his house (Philemon 1:2, page 1868). Paul wrote about Philemon’s runaway slave named Onesimus, whom Paul had met in prison. Paul sought the permission of Philemon to keep Onesimus with Paul.
10.2 Onesiumus. Paul wanted to keep Onesimus so that on behalf of Philemon, Onesimus might minister (“διακονῇ“) to Paul (Philemon 1:14, page 1868). The exact tasks Onesimus performed remain unclear, but they can be described as “service.” The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may render that service to an imprisoned person, like Paul.
The Ministry of Care
Paul reminded the Corinthian assembly that they were a letter of Christ, “cared (“διακονηθεῖσα“) for by us” (2 Corinthians 3:3, pages 1806-1807). Paul meant that Christ’s ministry team to Corinth had planted the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Corinth, others watered that seed, and God gave the increase. Paul described his apostolic work at Corinth as “service.” The New American Standard Bible translated the word for service as “cared” in this context. The work of service includes an expression of care for the welfare of the believers. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may take special spiritual care to ensure the development of spiritual maturity in the lives of a particular group of believers.
The Ministry of the Spirit
12.1 The Ministry of Death. Paul drew a stark contrast between the ministry of death (“ἡ διακονία τοῦ θανάτου“) (2 Corinthians 3:7, page 1807) and the ministry of the Spirit (“ἡ διακονία τοῦ πνεύματος“) (2 Corinthians 3:8, page 1807). The ministry of death consisted of letters engraved on stone and came with glory and resulted in the condemnation of men (2 Corinthians 3:9, page 1807). Even so, the ministry of death came with glory, so that the face of Moses shone with the glory of God.
12.2 The Ministry of the Spirit. The ministry of death came with glory, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit has even greater glory. Just as the ministry of death resulted in condemnation, so also the ministry of the Holy Spirit results and abounds in righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:9, page 1807). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have a ministry of proclaiming the work of the Holy Spirit with great boldness, particularly resulting in salvation.
12.3 The Servants of the New Covenant. Directly related to the Ministry of the Spirit, the Servants (“διακόνους”) of the New Covenant perform the ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6, page 1807). God makes the servants of the New Covenant adequate to perform the ministry of glory in sharing the blessings of the New Covenant. The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have the ministry of sharing the blessings of the New Covenant.
The Ministry of Slavery
13.1 Roman Slavery. The Roman empire accepted slavery and the New Testament provides instructions for slaves. If a slave (“δοῦλος“) can become free, become free. But if a man is called to salvation while a slave, he should not worry about it. Every slave is the Lord’s freeman; likewise every man not in human slavery is Christ’s slave (1 Corinthians 7:20-24, pages 1789-1790). Paul did not tell Christian slaves to revolt and leave their masters.
13.2 Christian Service. At the wedding in Cana attended by Jesus, His disciples and His mother Mary, gave orders to the servants (“διακόνοις”) to obey Jesus. Jesus then gave orders to the servants. Those servants (“διάκονοι”) knew that Jesus had turned water into wine (John 2:1-12, page 1656). At times servants understood things others never knew. Likewise, in the Book of Philemon, we can read about a runaway slave who serves Paul. Paul informed Philemon, the owner of the slave, that Onesimus, the slave, had become useful to Paul during his imprisonment. Paul then entreated Philemon to allow Onesimus to continue with Paul so that he might minister (“διακονῇ”) to Paul in his imprisonment (Philemon 1:13, page 1868). Slaves often were commanded by their masters: “serve” (“διακόνει“) me. (Luke 17:8, page 1634). Servants were also commanded to serve their masters with fear of God, even if their masters were unreasonable (1 Peter 2:18, page 1896). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have a special ability to serve a master in humility, as they work for the Lord and His blessing.
The Ministry of Church Planting
Paul traveled around the Mediterranean world directed by the Holy Spirit. Paul often went first to the synagogue at a particular location, and there preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of the people in those local synagogues repudiated the word of God and deemed themselves unworthy of eternal life and rejected the Gospel (Acts 13:46, page 1726). But as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed the Gospel (Acts 13:48, page 1727). Paul and Apollos became servants (“διάκονοι“) through whom the Corinthians believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:5, page 1784). Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6, page 1784). Therefore, people with the Spiritual Gift of Service may have a ministry of serving God through church planting.
The Ministry to a Local Assembly
Paul recognized Phoebe as a servant (“διάκονον”) of the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1, page 1780). She was a helper (“προστάτις”) of many people, and of Paul himself (Romans 16;2, pages 1780-1781). The term for “helper” (“προστάτις”) apparently includes helping people from your own resources, as a richer person benefits a person in financial need. Phoebe performed her notable ministry at Cenchrea, a local church. A person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may use their finances to benefit other people in need of financial support. Compare the work of the women who came from Galilee to support Jesus (see Section 7.4 above).
The Ministry of the State
Paul described the government as a minister (“διάκονός”) of good, appointed by God for good. He also described the government as a minister (“διάκονός”) of God, who bears the sword, and acts as an avenger of God, who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Believers must submit to government because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience (Romans 5:5, page 1776). The person with the Spiritual Gift of Service may participate in government to serve the purposes of God.
Hallmarks of the Spiritual Gift of Service
Service: Understanding the Spiritual Gifts. The believer with the Spiritual Gift of Service ministers in many ways, but all the time rendering service to other people for the glory of God. They serve the Godly, the ungodly, the reasonable and the unreasonable. They take orders from others without disobeying Jesus their Lord.
Please review this entire chapter to understand The Spiritual Gift of Service and then see if you have that spiritual gift.
If you want to examine yourself regarding The Spiritual Gift of Service, then see if you have a special joy and effectiveness for Jesus when you participate in the activities listed below. You may have The Spiritual Gift of Service.
♦ Service-gifted believers prepare meals for people.
♦ Service-gifted believers serve others first, before themselves.
♦ Service-gifted believers often labor under the direction of others.
♦ Service-gifted believers may minister the word of God, at times bearing witness to Christ before tribunals even as they face the prospect of death or imprisonment.
♦ Service-gifted believers may also have a ministry of evangelism.
♦ Service-gifted believers may raise and deliver money for the work of Jesus Christ, and particularly, at times, providing money for the poor and famine afflicted.
♦ Service-gifted believers may raise money in distant lands for the relief of other believers facing hardship or death.
♦ Service-gifted believers may handle and deliver money, while being careful to administer such gifts carefully, while avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
♦ Service-gifted believers may supply the needs of the saints, resulting in overflowing glory to God and providing proof of their confession of Christ.
♦ Service-gifted believers may be part of a team proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
♦ Service-gifted believers may have a ministry of delivering news of a believer’s circumstances so as to comfort the hearts of others concerned about the believer’s condition.
♦ Service-gifted believers may be a part of a ministry team running errands (even to other countries), delivering reports, and meeting the physical needs of the ministry team.
♦ Service-gifted believers may perform continual, loving service to others as a way of life.
♦ Service-gifted believers may refresh another believer.
♦ Service-gifted believers may carry gifts from place to place, or person to person, church to church, or from a person to a group.
♦ Service-gifted believers may contribute from their private means to the support of the ministry by giving money to God.
♦ Service-gifted believers may have a ministry of reconciliation, working as an ambassador, with God using them to appeal to people to be reconciled to God, and begging them to be reconciled as needed.
♦ Service-gifted believers may be a male believer holding the office of a deacon.
♦ Service-gifted believers may have a ministry to the imprisoned.
♦ Service-gifted believers may take special spiritual care to promote the spiritual maturity of other believers.
♦ Service-gifted believers may have a ministry of proclaiming the work of the Holy Spirit with great boldness, resulting in salvation.
♦ Service-gifted believers may have a ministry of sharing the blessings of the New Covenant.
♦ Service-gifted believers may know special things about the works of Jesus, and they carry out their service with quiet obedience in humility.
♦ Service-gifted believers may serve God through church planting.
♦ Service-gifted believers may use their financial abilities to benefit other people.
♦ Service-gifted believers may serve in government to the glory of God.
As with many other spiritual gifts, The Spiritual Gift of Service intersects and overlaps other spiritual gifts. No spiritual gift operates in isolation. They work together for the common good of people, and often particularly for believers. The Spiritual Gift of Service involves people serving Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, performing services for Him by serving other people at work, in distant lands, by traveling, supplying physical and financial needs, working in government, and doing many other acts of obedience to Jesus Christ, because they love Him and love serving Him as a way of life devoted to God.