By Adrienne Crist
Romans 12:3 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 judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Now before I go through the gifts mentioned in versus 6-8 I want to give you an exhortation that I believe is very important and specific for us as women.
During the last prayer and planning meeting we had for our study, the Spirit prompted me to pray that all of you ladies would have confidence in the gifts that the Lord Jesus has given you. Now I realize that not all women lack confidence, but a good many of us can experience feelings of inadequacy, especially when we are learning something new. God created women to be a helpmate to man, not inferior to him, but with each generation of our culture we have seen changes to the perception of womanhood. Some of you grew up in a time when women were expected to stay silent, some of us were raised in the fledgling years of Women’s lib, the current generation has less of these confidence issues, I fear for the next generation because the lines of gender are bending. Nevertheless, overall because we are more relational and emotional in nature some of us have confidence issues.
Now Paul right off the bat in v. 3 says that we should not think more highly of ourselves then we ought to. Why would he say this? Is this just the opposite of what I felt so strongly to encourage you all with? Well, not exactly.
At the beginning of Romans 12 we are encouraged to give ourselves up to God, we are to become living sacrifices. We are to be set apart and holy from the world around us, we will be sanctified, and then in v3 Paul instructs us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and then we will prove or show what is the perfect will of God. The will of God are His instructions to us; what it is he wants for us to do presently.
How can we do the will of God? Well we surely cannot do His will without His Spirit or without His Gifting. As we exhibit the gifts there’s two elements at work here: His grace operating as the capacity and ability due to the gift of God and a measure of faith, which is also a gift.
Sandwiched between the warning to not be prideful because of your gifting are these two concepts.
In verse 3 He says For I say, through the grace given to me, in other words, I am qualified by God to speak these words. In Strongs concordance this version of grace in the Greek refers to grace as a token or proof that God has bestowed His grace on you.
1 Peter 4:10 states As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. The manifold or various gifts that God so graciously bestows should be used, not hidden away.
So it is this grace that I want you to take hold of. It is the same grace that God bestowed upon Paul that gave him the power to become an Apostle, an Evangelist, to Cast out Demons, to Teach and encourage and etc. etc. When Jesus Christ gives you a gift, he gives you authority to use that gift, so with his grace and with the faith that He has given you I urge you to confidently take hold of that gift. As you learn about the giftings and begin to identify the gifts that you have been given, do not sit in self doubt, because it’s the enemy who wants to stop you from both identifying and working in your gifting.
So Paul issues this warning because he understands the heart of man, God can pour out abundant gifts but man should never believe that it is his own intellect or will or even his education or possessions that will allow him to do great things for God, it is solely by the giftings of the Holy Spirit.
Paul also explains that we are given a measure of faith to use our gifts. So if you feel shaky, remember that God will give you the exact amount of faith that you will need to use that gift. You will learn to not only recognize His prompting, but He will give you the faith to overcome your fear when you are moving in your gifting.
With that, we will now move into the meat and potatoes of the gifts before us. The gifts Paul lays out before us are the gifts that keep the church moving forward day by day, month by month and year after year. Diane will be covering the gifts that wow us, that can show us God's Supernatural Power and amaze us. But the following gifts take that same Supernatural power, in fact I would propose that they can take more power, they take staying power because they are repetitive in nature. The following gifts are a great responsibility. They involve work and effort, sweat equity on the part of the receiver. But they enrich your life and they are the stabilizing force of the Church.
The Gifts of Equipping of the Saints
Ephesians 4:11- 12 And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ.
With each gift I will explain the purpose of the gift and some examples. I encourage you to refer to the hand outs for more information.
The Gift of Prophecy:The gift of prophecy is the divine strength or ability to communicate God's truth and heart in a way that calls people to a right relationship with God.
Strongs Concordance defines Prophecy as: discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by foretelling future events.
Due to time constraints I must be brief in regards to prophecy. The Old Testament is filled with Prophecy. The great prophets of old starting with Moses spoke to the people on behalf of God. Warning, declaring and making known the will of The Lord.
So too in the New Testament we see this gift. Of course Jesus is the author of this gift. Over and over he prophesied to the people. The history books and even today people refer to Jesus as a Prophet, the greatest Prophet.
In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul says Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Why does Paul state that you should especially desire to prophesy? Just a few verses after in 1 Corinthians 14:3 Paul explains But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. Prophecy builds us up, it calls us to action and it reassures us that God is on the throne.
There are two ways this gift operates. The first is the foretelling of future events. In the Fall when we resume studying Acts we will learn about Agabus, a prophet who foretold the future in Acts 11 and Acts 21.
The second way the gift operates is in forthtelling, essentially it is when God has a message for the body. If you have ever heard Pastor Steve pray out a word for the body that is directly from the Lord, that’s prophecy. These are the words of the Spirit that move you to speak.
There are some rules in regards to Prophecy: In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul instructs us that it should be orderly and that only 2 and no more than 3 Prophets should speak so that others may judge. What does that mean? First it should line up with the Word, that is one way to judge a false prophecy. Does it line up with the facts? And if it is predictive then we must wait to see if it comes to pass. Lastly, does it honor Jesus
The Gift of Exhortation or Encouragement
The gift of exhortation is the divine strength or ability to strengthen, comfort or urge others to action through the written or spoken word and Biblical truth.
Exhortation always points to faith in the Lord as the solution to our troubled hearts.
In order to receive encouragement, apart from direct experience of receiving it from the Lord or His word we need someone to impart it to us with their words. Probably one of the biggest encouragers I know is Debbi Tucker. She is married to Jim Tucker who is a Pastor. About 20 years ago our church sent them out as Missionaries to Belize. The Lord uses her mightily to exhort and encourage me personally. I always come away from time spent with her feeling encouraged to trust the Lord more deeply.
Her gift is exhibited on a personal level, one to one.
Spending time with fellow believers allows us to both use the gift and receive the benefit of the gift. Hebrews 10:24-25Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
We all need encouragement, especially these days.
On a corporate level the gift of exhortation is often in conjunction with prophecy or teaching. Exhortation requires the user to boldly proclaim the truth of a matter.
1 Timothy 4:13Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
George possesses the gift of Exhortation in abundance, Amen?
He shares the truth, whether it is to turn from sin or to trust God in all circumstances .
Proverbs 3:5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
If you have the gift then attune your ears to the Lord and use it! We all need to be encouraged to as Dr. Laura likes to say “Now go do the right thing!”
The Gift of Teaching:
The gift of teaching is the divine strength or ability to study and learn from the Scriptures primarily to enable a Believer's growth and spiritual development. Of course our supreme example of being a teacher was Jesus.
The last verse of scripture in Matthew 28:20 after commanding them to spread the Gospel Jesus said in verse 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you We all need instruction. Fortunately we now all have access to the word and can glean the scriptures for guidance and encouragement. But God gives the gift of teaching so that believers will be edified.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
The gift of teaching keeps the church growing and maturing, it is also important to keep its members from falling into false doctrines.
We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from other women, and from the beginnings of the church women have been recognized as teachers to other women.
In Titus the Scriptures give women authority to teach other women and of course children: They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Whether you teach Sunday School or other women I strongly encourage you to watch Pastor Steve’s Video titled "Teach Like Jesus" you can find it on YouTube. There Pastor Steve breaks down the primary principles and practices that Jesus used in the Scriptures that help you to teach God’s word effectively. Even if you do not possess this gift, I would recommend you watch the video, as it gives you even more insight as to why Jesus is the Master Teacher of His word.
Finally 1 John 2:27 states: But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
The Gift of Leadership:
The gift of leadership is the divine strength or ability to influence people at their level while directing and focusing them on the big picture, vision, or idea.
Oh that we would have solid leadership. It’s very important that Leadership is ultimately appointed by God. In Chuck Smith’s book Living Water he states: “The primary qualification for leadership in all ages is a man who has the Spirit, who is governed and led by the Spirit. Nothing can ever substitute for this, and the lack of it is always devastating.
Some scriptures to look up later 1 Timothy 3:1-4;6.
The thing about Leadership is that the gifting is usually very apparent. But don’t mistake confidence and having the demeanor of a chief as natural leadership. The gift of leadership can be apparent in many different personality types. The mark of a good church leader should be reverence of the Lord, 2 Samuel 23:3 “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God”. A good leader must be diligent as Romans 12:8 says if one is to lead, lead with diligence. Finally a good leader must preach the Word.
A leader in the church is ultimately responsible to the Lord, this is a grave responsibility. Please be praying for the leaders of our body, that they be guided by the Spirit and be ever aware of that accountability.
The saying Too many chiefs and not enough Indians should only apply to the world and not to the Church.
Which leads me to the next gift: Administration or Helps
The Gift of Service:
The gift of serving is the divine strength or ability to do small or great tasks in working for the overall good of the body of Christ.
We are all called to serve and to “Serve one another in love.” However, some are gifted in service. We studied in the book of Acts when God called upon Stephen and others to see to the needs of the widows. This was the establishment of the Deacons of the church, men who were recognized for their faithfulness in service and appointed as trustworthy leaders.
Those with the gift of service are like the framing of a house. They are the 2’x4’s and beams that help support the structure. These are people who are behind the scenes, taking care of the needs in the church. The body requires many hands to meet the needs of its members. Custodians, Children’s Ministry workers, Helping Hands to provide meals or rides, security, greeters, helpers in the coffee shop or in the kitchen for events. When our Church puts on outreach events like VBS, Candy Crush, or Concerts in the community it needs many hands.
My daughter Ellie has the gift of service, she would be embarrassed that I am even talking about her and her gifting, that’s a hallmark of the gifting. She once shared with me that what she loves about service is that she is happy to do all of the background things to help support Pastor George so that he can then go and preach the word and pastor the church.
Verse 11 of our chapter reads 11not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, patient[c] in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13distributing to the needs of the saints, given[d] to hospitality.
Paul associates service with diligence, patience, steadfastness in prayer, meeting the needs of saints and hospitality. These are the marks of a servant.
The Gift of Giving: The gift of giving is the divine strength or ability to produce wealth and to give by tithes and offerings for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God on earth.
There’s actually a remarkably large number of scriptures in regards to giving. The scriptures make it clear that we are all to give, and to give cheerfully. But we are not to give in order to gain.
People who have the gift of giving know they have the gift, because the desire to give is strong and the resources are plenty. I want to share this passage of scripture that sums up some principles regarding giving. Paul is addressing the church in Corinth regarding their desire to give an offering to the churches in Macedonia.
2 Corinthians 9:2-7 2For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece[a] were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. 4We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! 5So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly .
6Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”[b]
There’s three beautiful things in this text: 1. The generosity of the Corinthians set an example to the believers in Macedonia and it increased their own faith and they began to give. 2. That we give out of love and not out of compulsion. If God is behind it then it’s hard to keep from giving. 3. The offering is acceptable to God when it’s given from a heart of sincerity; therefore in Paul’s exhortation to give generously, he means without any strings attached.
There are people who make great financial contributions to God’s Kingdom, and they are admonished here to give without any thought to having control of the money that they give.
The Gift of Mercy: The gift of mercy is the divine strength or ability to feel empathy and to care for those who are hurting in any way. Mercy for the sick, the elderly, the poor and downtrodden, the forgotten or unlovable, for the homeless or the incarcerated. This gift is truly from Jesus. People with this gift typically are tender hearted, but this gift is sacrificial in nature. Many of us are uncomfortable to sit with those who are suffering.
But Jesus was not, and neither are those who have the gift of Mercy. Jesus said Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Nurses and caregivers have this gift. There are so many people in the world who need to experience the gift of mercy. If you are moved with compassion to the point of action in the sight of suffering, you have the gift of mercy.
The Gift of Intercessory Prayer: The gift of intercession is the divine strength or ability to stand in the gap in prayer for someone, something, or someplace, believing for profound results. This is the Cinderella ministry of the Church. Unseen heroes battling on their knees. I often wonder what the church would look like without those who are compelled by the spirit to pray. These are the prayer warriors:
Ephesians 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [a]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I have been experiencing the spiritual warfare that comes when you get ready to teach. And sometimes it’s more difficult than other times. But for this study it’s been fairly significant. My first inclination is not to pray, but to seek out advice, which is not biblical. But if I had this gift, I think that my first inclination would be to pray. We need these prayer warriors. If this is you, then I say thank you, please keep praying, the body needs your faithful prayers
The Gifting of the Arts: T he gifting in the arts is the supernatural ability to write, create, fashion, or perform in order to bring Glory to God.
If you have the ability to do any of the following:
write whether it be poems, songs, or fiction for God,
to play a musical instrument, make music with your voice in Worship,
if you can paint or sculpt or design images on your computer.
If you are creative with your hands by way of the decorative arts and crafts
If you love to work with your hands to build or make things using anything that involves the word needle in it, then you have been given a gift of the arts by the Lord. And you may have been given this even before you knew Jesus.
God is the master of creation. He imagined all of the glorious living things we see in creation. He also gave man the spirit of creativity. Beginning with the tabernacle God has been gifting man the ability to create beautiful things and to make music that points to Him to bring Him and His son glory.
If you have a skill or a creative talent, then God can use it for His Glory. If any of you know Gwen then you remember her poems. God would use her creative poems to usher in the Spirit during our worship services and it was powerful. Don’t be shy in harnessing your creativity to magnify the Lord or to show others His love and mercy with the works of your hands.
I want to read Romans 12 v6-8 again from the Phillips version
Through the grace of God we have different gifts. If our gift is preaching, let us preach to the limit of our vision. If it is serving others let us concentrate on our service; if it is teaching let us give all we have to our teaching; and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith of others let us set ourselves to it. Let the man who is called to give, give freely; let the man who wields authority think of his responsibility; and let the man who feels sympathy for his fellows act cheerfully.
I want you to notice that Paul is commending us. He is giving us marching orders. Each gift is punctuated by an order We are to confidently, not timidly, and humbly, use our gifts. Finally let all this be done in love.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Love for God and Love for one another, this is the ultimate goal, Amen?