A couple of years before my dad died I attended a service in a really quaint church in a small town known as Bathurst in the Eastern Cape. The minister entered the church wearing black flowing robes and had an almost snow white beard. He took his place behind the lectern and his opening words were “I better introduce myself. I am Father Abraham and if you are here for the Christmas day service you can meet Father Christmas!”
The minister was my dad Ray Lutge, who in fact had been ministering in the Bathurst church for many years, but had been on a month’s bush camping holiday with my brother in Namibia and had decided not to shave!
His sermon that morning was on the gifts of the Spirit and I was amazed to find out that there are in fact 27 Spiritual gifts noted in the Bible.
They are prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation, apostleship, helps, administration, evangelist, pastoral, celibacy, voluntary poverty, martyrdom, hospitality, missionary, intercession and exorcism.
I have to laugh sometimes at how practical our God can be. Here we have all these lovely ‘spiritual’ gifts and in there somewhere is this amazingly practical gift of administration!
Romans 12 says “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well”
If you look at the list of gifts there are some there that each one of us should be practicing.
The gift of giving, the gift of mercy, the gift of helps and the gift of hospitality are all gifts that we are capable of exercising.
The gift I found very interesting was voluntary poverty. “It is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to renounce material comfort and luxury and adopt a personal life-style equivalent to those living at the poverty level in a given society in order to serve God more effectively”.
Well, Mother Teresa was certainly given that gift in abundance. She founded the Missionaries of Charity ministry in Calcutta and for 50 years she lived and worked among the poorest of the poor. She cared for orphans, AIDS patients, lepers, tuberculosis victims and many more in need.
God was speaking about material poverty and yet how many of us live in absolute poverty spiritually and emotionally. This kind of poverty is something that we have control of and it is in our power to change.
Even though, on a daily basis, Mother Teresa saw people starving with hunger she could still say the following:
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our homes to remedy this kind of poverty. Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”
Each one of us is capable of doing something about this kind of poverty – all it takes is love.