Romans 12: 3-13
Once our pride is removed, then our service, gratitude and love work with the Sprit Who gives us Spiritual Gifts. These are the means for the Body of Christ to function in health and in distinction. They separate us from the evil ways of the world, yet if they are misused they will inflict the very things they are meant to prevent. They are to empower us for the service of our King, and to cooperate and build relationships with other Believers without pretension or pride. When we work together in unity we will discover and execute a synergetic reaction for good and service and for the building of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, what we usually find in the church is strife, dysfunction, gossip, and slander, because our pride gets in the way of His call. Thus, the gifts are neutralized or turned into weapons of dysfunction. Rather than to reach out and disciple as we should do, we fight amongst ourselves, or develop false doctrines. The Body cannot do things well or function correctly when we are puffed-up with ourselves. We cannot function by pretending, or out of hate. In order for us to be used effectively by Christ, we must be infused with love and joy as we do our part for His glory.
· Measure of faith, means we are all apportioned for different functions with the abilities to meet them. This is about our justification in Christ and in community to others justification too. He loves you and others too! Diversity in unity goes together as meaning cooperation. It is the responsibility of the Believer to the church Body. We have unity and diversity in the Body. This is necessary to our functioning together. We cannot all be the same. We are to see our differences as filling each other's gaps and deficiencies (I Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:7-15). This is one of the main roles of the Church, to have its people work together in Christ with one another and bring this model to the world around us! We are never to be pretentious with spiritual gifts or in ministry in general, but we are to use them to encourage and build up, and never to tear down. Authenticity is extremely important (1 Tim 3:15). God does not need us to wear masks and pretend.
· Prophecy is not fully defined in the New Testament, thus it is often debated (Acts 13:1; 21:10-11; I Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11). It generally refers to teaching the Word of our Lord, especially before the compilation of the cannon of Scripture in the fourth century. The Jews saw it as "divine possession" from God to a believer. Others see it as God bestowing His clear un-contradicting instructions. Prophecy is seen by Jews and most Christian groups as extra ordinary and rare. All the gifts are the work we do for God from the "manifestation" and or "empowerment" of the supernatural work of God the Spirit within us. The "visible" manifestations may be rare; yet God and His miracles are still at work in us and in His Church in the world.
Some people refer to prophecy in this passage as "word of knowledge," a receiving of special wisdom and knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit. This can be supported from Scripture, but these "words of wisdom" will never countermand Scripture! They may come in the form of a hunch, insights from the Word, or even more directly, so that one will have more information about what God has given them to do in order to interact more effectively. Most churches that practice this "word of knowledge" do not use it discerningly, and they elevate their wisdom over Scripture! Hence, we can see why there are so many false teachings in America.
· Ministry/serve, this refers to an "office" of the Church such as a deacon or staff person in ministry. Its application means we all serve and when we serve we are serving Christ, His Hands in the world (Rom. 15:25; 16:1).
· Showing mercy, means being charitable here, it is being generous to others with what Christ has given you. To serve Him without being held back by fear, time or lack of talent. This also means directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed and poor, but some Christians will have a specific call and empowerment to do this. People in the world may be more concerned for their own needs and agendas than they are for God's clear doctrine and purpose, but as Christians we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2).
· Kindly affectionate / be devoted, means to look out and look after each other, to give preference to others, because there are no inferior or superior people in the Kingdom of God, just those with different calls, abilities and opportunities! Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:9-21; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!
· Without hypocrisy, this is called a "parenesis" in ancient philosophy, a call to moral excellence that is not contradictory with our other behaviors, words or thoughts.
· Hospitality in Paul's time meant putting up travels without charge and visiting one another (Heb. 13:2-3; 3 John 5-8). Verses 14-21 in this section remind us of the Sermon on the Mount, the basic teachings of Jesus (Luke 6).
We must practice the Christian faith with a since of urgency. There can be no hesitation to serve the Lord, or we will miss His vital opportunities. We need to do this by being humble, to share with one another rather than be so concerned with our agenda or our personal needs. The call is to cooperate, this means to create an environment of trust and encouragement, so that people will want to join and belong as they see that there is no pride or arrogance (Prov. 3:7; Phil. 1:2-8). When we are selfish and stingy with our sharing, we create an atmosphere of distrust. Who would want to be a part of that? How we behave with one another as well as how we react to the non-Christian environment will distinguish us as Christ-like or as hypocrites. Which characteristic do you think our God desires?
1. How do you and your church practice hospitality?
2. What does the "Body of Christ" mean to you?
3. Why are Spiritual Gifts more than the talents and abilities?
4. How can Spiritual Gifts be misused to cause strife instead of unity? What causes Spiritual Gifts to be misused?
5. What happens when Spiritual Gifts are being exercised effectively?
6. What is the danger in pretending with Spiritual Gifts, to say you have one that you do not have?
7. Why is authenticity so extremely important in Christian leadership?
8. What is kindness to you? How can kindness be used as the proof text to authenticity?
9. How do you view prophecy? Why is prophecy so often debated and misused in the church? How can prophecy be used today in the church?
10. What comes to your mind when the subject of "word of knowledge" comes up? How can "word of knowledge" be used today in the church?
11. What are the vital opportunities we miss when we do not practice the Christian faith with a since of urgency?
12. Have you considered that a Christian who is well off and who does nothing for another Christian who is in poverty or need is being an abomination before God? What can you and your church do to model this passage better?
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©1998, 2001, 2005, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org