Pointing People to Christ

To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)

Responding to his disciples’ complaint in regards to Jesus’ following surpassing that of his own, John speaks of the sovereignty of God. Unmoved in the face of the world’s fickle opinions, there was not a hint of jealousy, selfish ambition, or vain conceit in his words. Humility shines forth from a right understanding of God’s ultimate plan.

“Different employments are according to the direction of divine Providence, different endowments according to the distribution of the divine grace. We should not envy those who have a larger share of gifts than we have, or move in a larger sphere of usefulness. John reminds his disciples that Jesus would not have thus excelled him unless he had received it from heaven, and, if God gave him the Spirit without limit, shall they grudge at it? We should not be discontent, though we may be inferior to others in gifts and usefulness, and be eclipsed by their excellencies. John was ready to confess that it was God who gave him the place he had in the love and esteem of the people; and, if now his place declined, God’s will be done! When he has fulfilled his ministry, he can contentedly see it go out of date.”
-Matthew Henry

The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that whatever gift God gives is to be lived out in sincerity and motivated by love in order to serve and edify the body of Christ. Our gifts are given to us in order to be used for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. The love of God expressed through human beings encourages and increases the faith of other believers.

So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. (Romans 12:4-9)

Paul commends the Thessalonians:

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. (1 Thessalonians 1:3-7)

Take It to Heart

In our verse for today John is clear–God is sovereign over the affairs of men. We must remember that just as the gifts given to us are not our own, neither are our ministries–they are God’s and He will do with them as He pleases:

The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. -1 Samuel 2:7

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. (Proverbs 21:1)

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD. (Proverbs 21:30-31)