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We have different gifts

Romans 12v6-8

24th May 2019

Last time we considered these words:

Romans 12v4-5
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

This means that an accurate self image for a Christian includes the idea that I am an important member of the church. Every member is important.

The next verse begins:

Romans 12v6a
We have different gifts according to the grace given us...

For me, this is obvious. Speaking as perhaps the worst administrator in the western hemisphere, when our church secretary and treasurer sort out the legal stuff and the finances, I know they have different gifts from me. When I see practical people repairing something that's broken, they seem to find it easy to do, and I know I would find it very difficult to do. Some people are great artists, musicians or cooks. We've all got different gifts.

And we have different gifts according to the grace given us. That is to say, if there's something you're good at, it's because God has given you the ability to be good at it. It's not to boast about. My wife Martine has a wonderful singing voice. God gave her that voice. Me - not so much. Some people think I can preach reasonably well, but if so that's a gift from God. There's nothing to boast about here.

Paul says elsewhere:

1 Corinthians 12v15-17
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

It's not for the ear to boast about being good at hearing. That's what it's for! An ear that's not very good at hearing is not up to much. It's not for an eye to boast "I can see, but the ear can't". It's, true, but that's because you're an eye and he's an ear.

We're all different, and we should celebrate each other's gifts, and we should acknowledge the gifts we have, which is difficult if you're English, because you want to say, "Oh, I'm hopeless at everything". No, you're not. There are some things you're very good at.

And as we come together, we all function and we all achieve together. Consider a violin player in an orchestra, who makes a beautiful sound, but he couldn't if he didn't have a good ear. And he couldn't if he didn't have a good eye to see the conductor and read the music. And he couldn't if he didn't have his friends playing with him. The church needs every Christian. Every Christian is a gift from God to the body of Christ. But we've all got different gifts.

Paul continues:

Romans 12v6b-8
If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith; if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Some people have the gift of prophesying. Paul said that, if you've got that gift, then use it in proportion to your faith. That means two things. Firstly, if you're not sure something is a prophetic word of God, don't pretend you are sure. Don't say, "God is saying ..." unless you're sure he is. If you think God might be saying something, begin with, "I think God might be saying ..." because that's in proportion to your faith. Secondly, prophesy in proportion to THE faith. Never prophesy that which is contrary to Biblical teaching. But if you have the gift of prophecy, then prophesy.

Do what God has gifted you to do responsibly and humbly. Paul says, "If your gift is serving, serve." That's more profound than it sounds. He's' saying whatever your gift is, use it. Don't despise it, don't think it doesn't matter. Don't think it's unimportant. The reason God gave you that gift is so you can use it. Some of our gifts are making the coffee, cleaning the toilets, hoovering the carpet, and doing the photocopying - these are all important roles in the church. The church would not function properly without them. Don't despise these gifts. Just do them, and rejoice in Jesus that you're allowed to serve the body of Christ.

If your gift is teaching, then teach. Do what you're good at. If your gift is encouraging, then encourage. Some Christians have a gift of encouragement but don't realise it. Some of us are just encouraging people. Some of us just smile at the right moment. Some of us have a gift of letting it be obvious that they're glad we're here. You might not think that's important, but it's tremendously valuable.

I've often heard it said that contributing to the needs of others isn't the most popular gift, but some of us have it. There are Christians who love to give. There are Christians who naturally see someone else without and want to give. If that's your gift then do it generously. Do a lot of whatever you're good at.

If your gift is leadership, then govern diligently, not carelessly or lazily. I'm not a perfect leader, but I hope I do my best. And that's what Paul's saying, isn't it? Try your best to be the most faithful leader you can be every day.

If your gift is showing mercy, do it cheerfully. I think Paul's talking about helping people in huge need: People who are dying, people who are truly sick, people who are heartbroken or depressed. If you visit them to cheer them up, be cheerful. They don't want to hear you saying, "Oh, how awful your life is. My goodness it's terrible. I don't how you cope. Oh, goodness, you do look ill". People need to be cheered up sometimes. If your gift is visiting people in deep need, smile when you get there. Let them know you love them. Remind them that God is wonderful, even in the midst of their suffering.

But this is all common sense isn't it? You are the body of Christ and each one of you is a member, so do a lot of what you're good at, for Jesus's sake. As verse 1 says, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices".

When the body of Christ is healthy and at peace, when the members of the body of Christ get involved and stay involved, when the body of Christ is what a church should be, then the church, the body of Christ, touches the world for Jesus, and people in desperate need of salvation, of God's peace, love, truth and power can find them. They can find God for themselves because the church sufficiently reflects the goodness of Christ that they see Christ in the church.

And that's a good enough reason for you and me to dedicate ourselves to serving God in the local church.