The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians and talks of Jesus, triumphant after His resurrection, giving gifts to His people from the spoils of His victory. He quotes from Psalm 68:18 as follows: ‘Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” The picture Paul is painting is of Jesus, after He had triumphed over the demonic forces of the enemy, leading them as captives, or prisoners of war, in a procession.
But what are the gifts Jesus gave? It turns out that they are the spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ. ‘And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Today the Body of Christ has many different ways of expressing itself throughout the world and it’s interesting to ask people from a different nation, or a different denomination within one’s own country, what they understand about spiritual leadership. Some may readily understand the function of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to the Church as a whole but others may struggle with the concept of some of those roles. But what is absolutely clear from this passage of Scripture is that the job of spiritual leaders is to build up the Body of Christ and equip believers (saints).
I don’t believe it’s the job of every spiritual leader to fulfill every role mentioned here and some will have particular strengths in one or more area of gifting. That’s why we need one another. Apostles blaze a trail for God’s Kingdom and plant churches or Christian organizations where there were none before. Prophets alert us to God’s specific message to us today in our situations. Evangelists are needed to proclaim the Good News of Jesus as Saviour to those who don’t yet know Him. Pastors or shepherds nurture believers and disciple them in living the Christian life and teachers make it easier to understand God’s written Word and apply it to our lives.
What about the members of the congregation? I believe God wants them all to take up their role within the Body of Christ. They are also to become gifts that God gives to the Body of Christ. We can all contribute to building up others and helping them grow closer to Jesus. I know those who visit the sick and cheer them up and get their shopping for them. I know those who go and fetch the elderly people from the residential home in their cars and bring them to a special mid week service at the church. I know those who teach adults or children about Jesus. I know those who pray for others. There are many jobs we can do for Jesus and find a role in the Body of Christ.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to see where I can take a part in equipping the saints. May I not sit back and leave it all to the spiritual leaders. Give me the confidence and the boldness to be a gift to the Body of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.