Victor AND Giver
Wednesday - March 9th
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 4:7-16
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people."
In 546 BC, Argos and Sparta had an all-star "Battle of the 300 Champions." Rather than committing entire armies, both sides agreed to pit 300 of their best men against each other. Both sides picked their best hoplites (heavily armored Grecian foot soldiers) and decided to fight to the death. The battle would end when one side annihilated the other. Whichever side had at least one surviving soldier would be considered the victor.
When the fight ended, two soldiers from Argos stood looking over the bloody battlefield. The two surviving Argives thought they'd won and left, leaving behind a single injured Spartan on the field. He also claimed victory. Both sides believed they had won.
In the ancient world, the victor of the war would be celebrated and exalted within the winning side. Often, a king, general, or a sole-surviving soldier would be declared the "Victor." The title came with great position and privilege. One privilege involved the Victor distributing the spoils of war to whomever he pleased. The Victor also earned the right to give the state's wealth to whomever he wanted. People of the ancient world believed that someone who descended into the depths of a bloody battle and ascended to the height of victory deserved the right to be the "Giver" - not just the "Victor."
Paul uses this concept as the background of Ephesians 4:7-10. In this passage, The Apostle alludes to Psalm 68 that speaks of this ancient practice of the Victor earning the right to be the Giver. He says that Jesus descended into the darkness of death for us and also ascended to the place of Victor for us. Indeed, Jesus battled death and Hell itself as He hung upon the cross. Jesus conquered death, the grave, and Hell through His resurrection. He is our Victor!
Paul argues that as the Victor, Jesus Christ gives gifts to His followers. Paul says that Jesus uses His right as the Victor to give us spiritual gifts to serve and build each other up. Christ has endowed us with gifts and empowered us by His Spirit to minister to one another as we pursue maturity in Him.
Whether or not you recognize or fully understand the spiritual gift or gifts God has given you, thank Him for providing you with what you need to serve Him! In the days ahead, we will explore what the gifts look like in our lives. Today, let's celebrate the one who generously blesses us with them!
Our glorious Victor is also our generous Giver!