The Perfect Measure of Grace
I hear a lot of preachers talking about 'burnout' these days, and it doesn't surprise me. Imagine a pure pastor who is wonderfully gifted in his pastoral office. He is using 100 percent of his God-given ministry gift, yet his gift is only 20 percent of what his congregation needs. This precious pastor is working around the clock, attempting to provide 100 percent of what the church requires to be perfected and edified in the way Ephesians 4:12 describes, yet he has only 20 percent of the grace to do that job! Anyone can see that this is a formula for disaster. If a person's body has only 20 percent functionality, we would say that person is handicapped. If an airplane lost all but 20 percent of its facilities, we would bring it in for an emergency landing. If a business operated at only 20 percent output, it would soon go bankrupt.
Whenever God calls you to do something, He will always supply the perfect measure of grace.
In Philippians 1 Paul is talking to his ministry partners (the ones who were supporting him financially). In verse 5 he expresses his gratitude for their partnership in the work of the gospel, and then in verse 7 he says, 'Ye all are partakers of my grace.' Do you realise that you can actually tap into the grace that is on someone else's life? By partnering with Paul's gift, the Ephesians became partakers of his grace! Let's go back to my example of the pastor who is burning out. Rather than attempting to provide 100 percent of his church's needs with 20 percent of the gift and grace, he should partner with others who are gifted in the areas he is not. When he partners with their gifts, he will also become a partaker in their grace, and the whole church will benefit.
The principle is simple but very profound, and Ephesians 4:7 encapsulates it: 'But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' The grace comes with the gift!
Although this verse is set in the context of the fivefold ministry gifts, it is not just applicable to those called into 'full-time ministry'. The Bible says this grace is given to every one of us according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Whenever God calls you to do something, He will always supply the perfect measure of grace so you will be able to operate in your gifting. But whenever you try to operate outside your gift, you will find it difficult, burdensome, and miserable, because there will be no grace for it.
We cannot place on others the gift of grace we have been given.
Take, for instance, someone who is called to live a celibate life. Paul the Apostle was one. In fact, he said in 1 Corinthians 7 that remaining single was a good thing, and he went so far as to say in verse 7, 'I wish that all men were like I myself am [in this matter of self-control]. But each has his own special gift from God, one of this kind and one of another' (amp). Although Paul preferred singleness and wished everyone would remain single as he was, he had the wisdom to recognise that his ability to lead a happy and full life without a spouse was a special gift from God.