We’ve just finished up (thankfully) a time where the world, Christian and secular alike - generally speaking – focuses on gifts or presents or whatever you call them. There’s so much merchandising forced into our eyes and ears for the next life-changing device or hot, must-have toy. We’re completely inundated with materialism. There’s also the so-called “War on Christmas” between those that want to eliminate the name of Christ in all things, those that believe Christmas is a solid, Christian holiday and those believers that disagree with the history and origin, declining to participate. There’s stressful, long-hour home cooked meals for family. All these things tend to draw our focus away from Christ, Himself.
I’m not an advocate for Christmas. I believe every day of our life should be a focused and deep reflection on Christ. Is it okay to recall Him as the blessed baby in the manger at Bethlehem? Yes, that is Scriptural. (Luke 2:7) But He didn’t remain a baby. He grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52) He was busy about His Father’s will and business. (Luke 2:49) Jesus came, in flesh, to give His life as a ransom payment for those that would trust in Him for many years to come. (Mark 10:45) He had to be born, into a physical body, from a virgin, that He would fulfill all prophesy of His coming. This is essential to God’s Word and to Christianity’s essence. And yet, so is the Cross; His death, burial and resurrection. (John 6:51, I Corinthians 15: 1-4)
Forget the neatly wrapped paper and intricately woven bows this world offers for a gift. Big meals are great but sit down at the table of grace and see how much better His offering is! Christ brings gifts unspeakable. The only paper these gifts are wrapped in is the pages of God’s Word! These gifts sparkle with the divine illumination of the Holy Spirit through Christ! This food is a neverending feast of love and ability and help.
For those who read this and are saved, I completely and whole-heartedly proclaim and agree that salvation in Jesus is the chiefest and greatest gift, but He has chosen and measured us each a certain amount of gifts that we forget about. Just like the toy that was once new and incredible, they grow old. This is not because they become outdated or obsolete. We look to other’s gifts and decide in our hearts that those are better, that we need different ones or more gifts. We eat big meals but we hunger again, often times seeking something more exquisite. This is human nature. And it’s why this time of year becomes predatory. It’s why the marketing execs step up their efforts and see great reward (earthly speaking.) Yet, the gifts that Christ has given have been portioned out to us that we might not boast in having so many or that we’d have too many to deal with and never utilize as He has planned.
Ephesians 4 gives a clear explanation of this:
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
Written to the saints at the Church of Ephesus, Paul instructs them to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which all Christians have been called. Preferring one another over themselves, being meek, being patient with one another, even in failures; doing all this in the love of Christ that’s in their hearts, is his exhortation to this body of believers. He also encourages unity within the church, harmonized by peace, in and through the Holy Spirit.
In what seems like an odd place to say these seven mentions of ‘one,’ Paul dives into a breakdown of what true unity is and why it exists. The word ‘bond’ of verse 3 speaks of a close relationship or identity which produces harmony when people are joined together. In him giving these seven mentions, he’s reinforcing that, for harmony - for there to be peace in the Spirit - the members must consider how deeply they are bonded; and that it is an equal bond, all coming from ‘one’ source. Yet, Paul goes on to say in verse 7 that each member has been given a certain amount of gifts. Sounds unequal, no? The richness of these words is where we want to linger for a moment.
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7
We must take into consideration that this letter is to a particular church, thus Paul is first speaking to these members of the local, New Testament assembly. Secondly, only those who have been purchased by the blood Jesus Christ can receive a gift from Him. (I Corinthians 2:14) Explicitly, this is referring to those who are saved and are a member of one of the Lord’s churches. Therefore, ‘every one of us’ includes Paul because of the usage of us rather than thee or you. It doesn’t mean that Paul was a member of Ephesus but that he was, indeed, a member of a particular church. If it includes him, it must therefore include anyone that is saved and a member of one of the Lord's true churches! We can benefit from this!
We are given grace, charis , unmerited, undeserved lovingkindness and favor that is a token or proof of initial, saving grace. This is used in 2 Corinthians 1:15 as ‘second benefit.’ Stay with me here! This grace is given to us according to the measure of the gift of Christ. This undeserved benefit and favor has been dealt out, precisely portioned and acceptable to God, for us. This is important because the word used here  for ‘measure’ ultimately refers to the Lord Himself. Why? He is the only real and perfect measure of truth. It is on this God-inferred measurement that we have been portioned a great amount of gift from Christ. This is unlike us, as we approach a buffet and often have great intentions of trying or eating a variety of food, almost always failing to finish off everything. Food is wasted; not enjoyed to it’s fullest. We measure the extent of our hunger and portions wrong.
The verse says we’re given undeserved lovingkindness, a blessing of saving grace, according to and perfectly measured by God, from or ‘of the gift of Christ.’ That is, I believe, this gift of Christ is His saving, effectual grace! “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12, 13
He gave power to those who trust in Him to become the sons of God, in that we are able to serve Him freely, and not serve sinful flesh. Saving grace enables the believer to do this. It raises us to new life! Following grace is favor and lovingkindness and blessing that enables us with gifts to serve Him in our life and especially in His House!
Ephesians 4:3 is here to be an equalizer. Remember, the seeming inequality of these gifts? That bond of peace mentioned must be through the Spirit because sometimes said gifts can seem unequal. We must remember, though, that they’ve been perfectly portioned for us! We will not have a plate so full that we cannot fully enjoy and use the gifts. We won’t have too little and be left hungry. Our plate of gifts are measured by Christ in order that we would have what is fitting for us. They’re equal in the sense that they all come from One source: The One God and Father of all! Consider what John Gill had to say about the subject.
He made some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers but these are given that we might be built up and learn, that we would come into or understand and use our gifts. That’s the perfect or mature man mentioned. His growth is from grace upon grace. Without it, we are as children, torn and confused by every little thing that comes our way. (Ephesians 4:13, 14) We won’t all be pastors and teachers or evangelists. But we all have gifts useful to our church and God places us there on purpose for this reason, among others.
The end result being in verses 16 and 17,
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
These gifts – this grace – is measured out to every member, perfectly, so that the members of the churches would grow, using their gifts, unto the building itself up in the love of Christ. Christ is glorified through the love of His people to others, through the outreach of His churches fulfilling the Great Commission and we, as children of God, are given special gifts to serve Him in and through His church.
What’s on your dinner plate of grace? Don’t waste it. Enjoy it; savor God’s grace. Search out, tear open your gifts through His Word! Seek out a church that preaches the whole counsel of God. May the Lord bless your efforts!