screen-shot-2013-06-25-at-144944As we continue to consider spiritual gifts and their place in our serving profile we come to three ‘Ms’.

Martyrdom
Ability to suffer voluntarily/willingly and joyfully for the Lord – even to death.

When Paul urged us to ‘earnestly desire’ spiritual gifts this would probably not be the top of many people’s lists! And yet in 1 Cor 13:3 we read ‘If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing’.

I think we would all be aware of people down the ages who have laid down their lives for the gospel and great blessing has resulted. I think of men such as Jim Elliott and Nate Saint whose deaths, along with two others, significantly contributed to the salvation of many of the Huaorani people in Ecuador. The story is told by Jim’s widow Elisabeth in Through Gates of Splendor (1957, but republished in 2010) and is depicted in the film Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2005).

Is this a gift? These men certainly were aware of the possible dangers associated with evangelising the Huaorani people so I think that it can be justifiably stated as such.

Mercy
Ability to feel and demonstrate compassion and understand not just in strong feelings of sympathy but especially in a cheerful way with appropriate acts of kindness to bring relief to those who are suffering and/or in need.

This is another in the Romans 12 list of gifts. Like helps and encouragement it is usually a quiet, hidden gift that people often do not recognise in themselves; they just love caring for people in need.

The attitude of heart is vital, as is a sensitivity to the feelings of those being helped. There is no sense of judgement towards those to whom the gift is extended but rather a deep concern to help them, however undeserved such help may appear to be.

Paul exhorts us to use this gift cheerfully (Rom. 12:8). This is perhaps particularly relevant with this gift as many of those being touched by it have suffered an undue amount of sadness and hardship.

From the gospels we can all gain encouragement: Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36) and ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy’ (Matt 5:7)

Miracles
Ability to effect acts/demonstrations of divine power which override, alter or contradict the ‘laws’ of nature

Referred to three times (uniquely, compared to the other gifts) in 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29 Paul seems to want to emphasise the importance of this gift. Miracles are an authentication of the gospel, signs that cause people to wonder.

The gospels are of course liberally scattered with reports of the miraculous at the hands of Jesus – Feeding 5000, calming the storm etc. These are then continued in the Acts record where the disciples perform mighty acts.

But they are not the exclusive property of the New Testament. In the Old Testament, too, there is an abundance of miracles at the hands of such as Moses and Elijah.

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