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If you devote your life to the disciplines that make us like Christ, what is the reward? Do you get a corner office, or a key to the executive washroom? No, Jesus says, success for Christians is measured by service. What? How can that make any sense? Pastor Luke teaches from Ephesians 4:7–16 in “Ministry Loves Company,” part 5 of his 7-part series “Signs of Life.”Talk It Over
Getting Started. Have you ever known someone who thought they knew what they could do well, when you thought they would be far better at doing a something completely different? Has that ever happened in your own life?
Explore the Passage. Read Ephesians 4: 7–16.
1. In verse 7, “the measure of Christ’s gift” means “of the amount and kind that Christ decided to give.” Suppose someone said, “I didn’t get a gift.” Someone else pointed to a third person and said, “I don’t have that person’s gift.” How does verse 7 address both concerns?
2. Psalm 68: 18 uses an image of ancient warfare, where a conqueror took captives and prizes after a battle. What battle did Jesus win? (Consider Ephesians 4: 9–10.) Who are his captives?
3. In keeping with earlier rabbinic interpretation, Paul changed the wording of the Psalm when he cited it in Ephesians. How?
4. In the ancient world, after a military conquest, a general would apportion the spoils to his supporters. How would that kind of gift be different from others? (Say, a birthday present.) What does it add to verse 7 that a gift is the spoil of a victory that Jesus won?
5. The word “saints” in verse 12 means Christians—that is, people who have been ‘set apart’ by Christ. They have been given their own gifts (see v. 7). According to verse 11, they receive an extra benefit. What is it?
6. Do you view church leaders as a “bonus” gift? Why or why not?
7. What is the result of the people’s work of ministry, according to verse 12? When will it be complete, according to verse 13?
8. According to v. 16, how does Christ’s body (the church) relate to its individual members? What happens if a member isn’t working?
Apply the Lesson. 9. How do you serve in your church?
10. What sort of “outfitting” do your church leaders need to provide to make you more effective in serving in the church?
11. Who are some “body parts” who aren’t “working properly” in the church? What can you do in love (vv. 15, 16) to help them? What can your church leaders do? What would a successful result look like?
Food for Thought
Monday. Read John 1: 16. What is the source of our gifts? There have been a lot of Christians in the past 20 centuries. When will the gifts run out? Why?
Tuesday. Read Mark 10: 35–45. Why are the other disciples angry at James and John? What did they want that job for? What does Jesus say about measuring success among his disciples?
Wednesday. Read John 15: 1–8. What happens when we bear fruit? When we do not bear fruit? How does fruitfulness help us interpret hard times that sometimes overtake us?
Thursday. Read Matthew 7: 21–27. What is Jesus looking for: good deeds or something else? What should believers do with Jesus’ words? What does that mean in light of vv. 21–22?
Friday. Read Genesis 1: 28. What responsibilities did God give our first ancestors? What boundaries constrain them in their work? Read Genesis 2: 19. How did the man know what to say? Why would God be willing to let the man make these decisions?
Saturday. Read 2 Timothy 1: 8–10. Is salvation the result of good works? What is the relationship between salvation and good works?