Romans 12:4-8 NIV
For 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, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 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.
I’ll be honest. There have been times I have been around very spiritually gifted people, and I felt like we mutually “belonged” to one another. They approached their gift with humility and compassion, and I felt the Spirit of Jesus in their demeanor. They ministered to me with their gifts, and to our church community, and to this day I am a stronger Christ-follower because of their generosity of spirit.
There have been other times when I’ve been around very spiritually gifted people, even those who many in the room held in high esteem because of their unique or remarkable gifts, and yet I felt that I didn’t “belong” to them—nor they to me. Their expression of a spiritual gift, maybe in the way they presented it, gave me the sense that they were there as much for themselves as for me. I don’t judge them; I could have been wrong in my discernment—but it’s the way it felt.
We are, as Paul puts it, members who “belong” to all the others. That’s why spiritual gifts are best applied in a local church where people know our name and it’s harder to hide our motivations. Time and familiarity have a way of exposing both our strengths and our weaknesses. If gifts of grace are given for service, starting at home is Christianity 101.
How can we contribute to one another’s maturation process on a local level? First of all, let’s put stages and platforms aside. They often just confuse things, like who our audience is and why we are offering our gifts. Jesus was never impressed with stages (John 7), and certainly had little good to say to those who were interested in putting on a spiritual show (Matt. 23:5a).
The gift of prophecy means that we have cultivated a listening ear to the Holy Spirit, and receive clear guidance that we humbly share with others for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). The gift of serving means that we are someone who eagerly helps others at their point of need, gladly, and without needing continual affirmation or accolades for our work. The gift of teaching means that we have deeply studied the Scriptures and the spiritual challenges of our generation, and we can help others apply the Gospel in their daily life.
The gift of encouragement means that we have a knack for using our words and actions to lift others toward hope when they need a boost. The gift of giving means that we have the ability to generate resources, and to then offer them extravagantly and sacrificially to others without a need for recognition or payback. The gift of leadership means that we are able to serve, inspire, and guide others on a path that leads to the shared goals we all desire to achieve. The gift of mercy means that we express Christ’s compassion to those in need of ministry or provision.
A local body, functioning with these and other gifts, given freely to one another by its members, will thrive together. We will become a Community of the Spirit, those who belong to one another (Eph. 4:25), encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11), and are devoted to one another in honoring love (Rom. 12:10).
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I recognize that you have given me spiritual gifts to apply as a servant in my community. Come, Holy Spirit, teach me through others how to use those gifts wisely and in the way of Christ, and empower me to build up our local body. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Can you describe a circumstance in which someone ministered to you from a place of selflessness and compassion? How did it build you up, and/or others around you?
For the awakening,