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6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~ Romans 12:6-8
Today, we continue our study of Romans 12 where the Apostle Paul is instructing us on the purpose for which God made us in the first place: to be servants. I find it quite instructive and mind altering that in eternity, according to Luke 12, the Lord Jesus Christ will serve all of us whom He redeemed from the penalty of our sin. I would say that when we embrace the role of a servant, we are in great company.
In today's passage the Apostle mentions seven different spiritual gifts. The reason the Apostle brings up the gifts of the Spirit here is just that, they are gifts of the Spirit. Different people with different gifts serving the Lord differently. These are the tools that God uses in our lives to accomplish what He has called us individually to do for Him in our communities. The gifts given us are the tools of the servant. And, when we are not behaving as servants, we can use these gifts wrongly.
In v.6 of today's passage we read, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith."
God has given us spiritual gifts so that we are equipped to fulfill His calling on our lives. Spiritual gifts are the ability God has given each of us enabling us to do His will, not ours. These spiritual gifts are quite fulfilling when we are turning our backs on the self life and pursuing the role of the servant.
The first gift mentioned in today's passage is prophecy. According to the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12-14, this gift enables one to speak forth the Scriptures. The Apostle instructs "prophesy in accordance with your faith." That is, speak in proportion to the confidence and assurance of what God has said in His word. The one with the gift of prophesy must not speak beyond what God has already revealed in His word. The one with this gift must be careful never to speak on his own authority or from his own resources. The litmus test in this case is the completed written word of God, the Bible.
In v.7 of today's passage we read, "If it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach."
Then there are some who have the gift of serving. The word the Apostle uses here for serving is the word from which we get our word deacon. This word describes ones ability to help others with a cheerful spirit causing them to be blessed by it. Those with this gift serve willingly and cheerfully. They serve so that everybody is helped and blessed.
The next spiritual gift here is that of teaching. The gift of teaching is the ability to interpret the scriptures and to clarify its meaning to others. The one with the gift of teaching will have the ability to help others to understand what the scriptures mean. In addition, he will be able to help his audience to realize the application of the truth being taught.
In v.8 of today's passage we read, "If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."
Then there is the gift of encouragement which comes from the Greek word for exhort. We tend to think of the one who exhorts as getting into our grill, but actually, an exhorter encourages others. Now, he might do it with firmness, but his exhortation will be gentle and motivating. Encouragement was the gift that Barnabas had. In fact, the name Barnabas means "son of encouragement." When we see Barnabas in the Scriptures, he is always found with his arm around somebody's shoulder, encouraging, comforting, and urging on. In fact, Barnabas did this with John Mark when John Mark failed miserably while on one of the missionary journeys with the Apostle Paul.
Then there is the gift of giving. Contrary to what most think, this gift is not only giving of one's resources, included are also this person's time and talents. And, like all the other gifts, the more the one with this gift uses it, the more he will have to give. God created this idea of the law of reciprocity which says we reap what we sow. Reciprocity is a fundamental part of the glue that holds a community together, and, the more we exercise our gifts, the more the blessings grow in that context.
The Apostle writes, "give generously" which literally means, "Let him give with simplicity." This means to give without calling people's attention to it. Just as much as this gift is a gift from God, the desire to remain anonymous is as well. Those with the gift of giving often like to sit back and watch those whom they have given to receive the blessing. They do this because they are well aware of the fact that their gift is given as unto God and they delight in the opportunity to be used by God in the life of another. This is the case with all of the gifts.
Then there is the gift of leadership. The Greek word the Apostle employs here is a word that literally means "leading meetings." It comes from a root word which means "to stand up before others." Then, Paul says, do it with diligence which means, "Do not wing it, be prepared." Those with this gift naturally love to plan and this admonition plays right into the giftedness of the one with the gift of leading.
Then, Paul mentions the gift of showing mercy which is helping those who are often undeserving or neglected. Mercy is what we express when we are led by God to be compassionate. It is more than feeling sympathy toward someone; it is love enacted. Mercy desires to answer the immediate needs of others to aid them in their suffering, loneliness, and grief. Mercy is a champion of the lowly, poor, exploited, and forgotten and often acts in a way that lifts those in need of mercy.
Finally, in context the Apostle Paul has been accentuating the idea of servanthood. In fact, the gifts of the Spirit are products of God's grace in our lives and they coincide with the purposes that He has for a certain community of believers. God rarely bless us with only us in mind. He expects us to exercise our spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. Essential to being the servants God has called us to be, we must exercise the spiritual gifts that God has given us. Our spiritual gifts empowers us to serve. Humility is required to serve. And, when we are operating as servants the spotlight will not be upon us, it will be on the Lord Jesus.