Bible study “season” is upon us and soon, women from every stage in life will walk through the doors of our churches and homes for an encounter with the living God. We will experience so many needs and personalities; it could almost be overwhelming – a lot like a puzzle when you first dump it out on a card table.
It takes patience and time for those pieces to start to make sense. Some frame the scene, others bring color, still others make up the background you don’t always notice right away. Wherever the specific piece fits, it’s undeniable each one is needed, or the picture is not complete.
As leaders of women and ministry, we already know the “big picture” – that God’s Word is the key to our relationship with Jesus. But we may not realize how important each little “puzzle piece” is to our growth in Christ.
The body of Christ is about more than just getting together on Sundays and drinking coffee, singing songs, hearing a sermon, and going home. We have deep, eternal, significant work to do when we are together – any time we are together. It is mysterious and at the same time, completely tangible.
We need Truth. And we need to know and love God more. But we also need each other. Did you know that? No one likes to be needy. And sometimes, we don’t want to be needed! But, we need each other because of what – and Who – is inside us. We have a gift to give and that gift can only be given and received when we are together. (Facebook and FaceTime don’t count. This means face to face!)
Peter explained this truth for us in 1 Peter 1:3-7:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This is a beautiful reminder of who we are and where we are bound. But let’s focus on the word “various” in verse 6 … in “various trials.” Various in the Greek is poikilos and means “existence in various kinds or modes, diversified, manifold, variegated, many colored.” Even “woven or embroidered.”
We see this word often in the Gospels, when Jesus healed the sick with various diseases. His grace and power were sufficient for every single one. The word is also used secularly, as a descriptive in nature. The spots on a leopard. The plumage of a peacock. The glint of granite. It can also describe the character of something or someone that’s complex, clever, or resourceful. This is a beautiful concept layered with meaning.
We are promised trials many times in Scripture. We aren’t told how often or what kind, but we do get to know something of the greater purpose. Verse 7 tells us we are grieved by these various trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Greater future glory for Him and for us!
Peter leads us onward in 4:10, where we receive our “horizontal” high calling:
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”
There’s that word again. Varied, various … poikilos. So, our trials are various –multicolored, diverse, complex. Could it be that Peter is saying God’s grace is as well? Yes. That is exactly what he is saying.
Here’s William Barclay’s thoughts on this:
“To speak of the grace of God as poikilos means that there is no color in the human situation which the grace of God cannot match. And no possible problem can arise to which the grace of God cannot supply the solution. There is no possible set of circumstances, no possible crisis, emergency or demand through which the grace of God cannot find a way, and which the grace of God cannot triumphantly deal with and overcome. There is nothing in life with which the grace of God cannot cope. There is a grace to match every trial, and there is no trial without its grace.”
But wait – there’s more! Note the context of “varied” in verse 10. Could this mean that we are somehow involved in dispensing the very grace of God to one another? Scripture could not be more clear.
You have a treasure inside you – a gift given at the moment of your salvation. But unlike presents under the tree, this isn’t a gift for you. It is a gift for everyone else. Someone needs the grace that has been entrusted to you. And each gathering is a joyful opportunity to give it away.
So when you come to Bible study each week, you are so much more than a participant or a leader. As a believer, you are a steward. An ambassador. An overseer. A custodian.
As stewards of God’s grace, we should show up anytime we meet as believers – or anytime we meet with anyone – and instead of thinking, as we are all prone to do, “Here I am! Who’s going to say hi to me? Who’s going to ask how I am? Who’s going to notice me?” our spirit-led attitude and renewed mind must think instead, “There you are! I’m going to reach out first; I’m not only going ask how she is, I’m going to listen to what she says. Humble me, Lord. Use me and the grace you have deposited inside me to love and encourage and point someone to Your Son today.”
His Spirit is dwelling in and among us even now. And each of us possesses a supernatural gift, provided by our heavenly Father, intended to strengthen other believers with His sovereign grace. I need you. You need me. We need each other. We can choose each day to participate in His beautiful plan of restoration and blessing. What a privilege to be a vessel through which God’s infinite, abundant grace is poured out unceasingly on His people!