Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for joining us in prayer today for our prodigals and revival. It is so encouraging to partner together in this difficult labor of love. It reminds me of our interconnectedness and the dependence we have on each other as we serve the Lord.
In Romans twelve, Paul addresses the subject of the believer’s gifts. One of the first things we note in verse three is that everyone has a gift. Gifts are not given to an elite few. “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning.” The “each of you,” mentioned in this verse is not just to the preachers, or elders, or even males, but to every believer: the young, the old, the female, the male, the introvert, the extravert, the rich, and the poor. Every single believer has been graced by God with at least one supernatural, spiritual gift.
The warning Paul was talking about was that of thinking too highly of ourselves. If one member of the body thinks it is more important than another, there will be severe malfunctioning of the whole. Imagine a foot thinking it is more important than the lungs. The best pair of runners are put on the feet and the marathon begins, but the lungs begin to collapse. How far will the runner get? God has given to each of us a measure of faith that corresponds with the gift. Think of it as the divine enabling to put the gift into operation. When we understand that the gift and the ability to make it work, both come from God, it will keep us humble, and each member will place proper value on the other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Rom.12:4-5). The analogy of the human body is a beautiful way to describe the proper functioning of the gifts. For the health of the whole, each member needs to be functioning in its own capacity. While each member is different, because we are a body, there is unity in diversity. Our differences contribute to the overall blessing of the body, and so we need to allow, facilitate, and encourage each member to operate in his or her capacity. (This is a word of exhortation to male leadership, whether it be mentors, husbands, elders, or preachers. We need to actively and consistently encourage younger believers and sisters in the gifts they possess. So often they are neglected, limited, or criticized.)
From verses six to eight, Paul highlights a number of the gifts. He says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” While the gifts are all tied together and often overlap, they are distinct; there are speaking gifts, serving gifts, strengthening gifts, sacrificing gifts, steering gifts, and succoring gifts. Just look at the text again, they are all there! None is less important than another. If you have the gift to encourage and strengthen the hearts of the weak, then please do it every opportunity you have. There are so many discouraged believers who need a word lift them out of their darkness. What about the gift of showing kindness? While all of us should be marked by kindness according to Ephesians 4:32, this is a gift where a believer is able to show special sensitivity and sympathy to those who are suffering.
Verse nine transitions into the next section by saying, “Let love be genuine.” The gifts must operate in an atmosphere of love—love that is real, love that is from God.
Continued blessings to all,
Bryan and Rachel