Romansby David Cook
When a person comes to Christ, he or she becomes part of a fellowship, a family, a community of God’s people. Thus, Paul’s first directive to the early church is to show how renewed thinking works out in practice within the new family of the church.
But today, such an emphasis is normally found much further down the order of priorities in the discipleship curriculum. Perhaps it is a reflection of the individualism in churches today.
Paul exhorts the believer to think with “sober judgment” (v. 3), according to the giftedness God has given him. Such gifting is contrary to our deserving (v. 6). The believer must think humbly of self, for he or she is part of a body (vv. 4–5). Hence, he or she is not independent but interdependent.
Paul lists various gifts in verses 6 to 8. It is important to note that his gift lists here in Romans 12, in Ephesians 4, and in 1 Corinthians 12 are not identical. There is a great diversity in God’s gifting. It is never static and God may well gift the same person differently in varied spheres of ministry. The fact that Paul uses participles in describing the gifts shows that they are not to lie dormant, but are evidenced as they are used.
Paul lists seven giftings here. In the last three, he describes the disposition with which they are to be exercised. He tells those blessed with the gift of “giving” to be generous and rightly motivated, not for self-aggrandisement; those blessed with leadership qualities, to lead diligently, not to slacken; and those blessed with the gift of showing mercy, to do it cheerfully, not in a grudging way (v. 8).
I once read an article about the elderly in which the author said that elderly people are often dominated by a fear of being a nuisance. Hence, in showing mercy to the elderly, we must take special care to exude cheerfulness, or they may well develop a “death wish” so as not to be a nuisance to anyone any longer.
Here, then, is renewed thinking in relation to the church: Sober, realistic, humble, exercising our gifting in both a joyous and self-effacing way.
How can you discover your gifting? Ask your church leadership what needs to be done, and ask them to direct you into the area of service for which they believe you are gifted. (Don’t add to your burdens the task of discovering your gifts—leave that to your spiritual leadership.) Then get on and exercise your gifts to His glory, within the body of which He has made you a part.
According to Romans 12:4–5, what are gifts for?
How can you be more diligent in the exercise of your giftedness?
Which of the seven areas of ministry most relate to you, and how can you apply Paul’s exhortation?