Archive for September 17th, 2019

Romans 12:6b-8

In Romans 12:6b-8 Paul goes into detail on a list of spiritual gifts that are given to those in the body of Christ. He’s been clear that they come to us through the Holy Spirit’s gift of grace, not because of anything we do or earn. Knowing this should be an insurmountable barrier to pride in the exercise of spiritual gifts. However man, in the depravity of our heart, finds a way to be proud about spiritual gifts and insists on exalting men for how God has gifted them. That’s not God’s intent, and certainly defeats the purpose of the gifts being instrumental in driving unity and growth in the body of Christ as each exercises the grace they have been given manifest through these gifts.

So what are they?  Paul gives us a list of seven in this passage:  if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Let’s look at them in a list:

  1. Prophecy
  2. Service
  3. Teaching
  4. Exhortation
  5. Generosity
  6. Leadership
  7. Mercy

Paul gives some guidance around each of these individual gifts. Prophecy must be practiced in proportion to our faith. God may give us something to say to an individual or church body that stretches our faith. If we can’t prophecy in faith and trust that God has really spoken to us, we shouldn’t do it at all. Serving is how we do ministry. It has in view the broader picture of simply serving in practical ways. Teaching has in mind instruction. It is sharing truth so that others may learn it. Exhortation encourages people to practice what they have been taught; both are necessary for a healthy Christian life. Those who are taught but not exhorted become “fat sheep” that only take in and never live the Christian life. They are like the Dead Sea which has only an input with no output. It becomes a dead place. Those who are exhorted but not taught become excited and active, but have no depth or understanding to what they do and will burn out quickly or will work in wrong ways.

Generosity or giving refers to someone who is a channel through whom God provides resources for His body. This is an important spiritual gift that must be exercised with liberality. When someone who is called and gifted to be a giver stops giving liberally, they will often see their resources dry up – having forgotten why God has blessed them. The gift of Leadership must show diligence. It is easy for leaders to become discouraged and feel like giving up, but they must persevere if they will please God by their leadership. And finally, one with the gift of Mercy needs cheerfulness. It can be hard enough to show mercy, but even harder to be cheerful about it. Remember that these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as God desires, not based on our wants or works.

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