Why not now? Use your gifts! Part 2 Rom 12:3-8

Romans 12  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:21
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There are things in our culture that often become timeless.
Some of those things are music and movies.
For many in older generations, I say Chariots of fire, you may have a picture in your mind of the movie.
Or hear the theme song running through.
It is one of those things where whether you have seen the movie or not, you have likely at least heard the theme song.
In the movie, "Chariots of Fire", one of the main characters was a Scottish Christian by the name of Eric Liddle, who ran in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.
During the movie, Liddle says, "I believe God made me for a purpose- He also made me fast- and when I run I feel His pleasure."
There is a question in that statement that I want us to address and ask ourselves this morning.
Do you believe that God not only made you, but saved you, for His purpose?
Do you believe He saved you ONLY to get you to Heaven someday?
Do you believe that God has given you a purpose on this earth?
There was a survey taken of 5,000 pastors across the United States.
They asked the pastors what their greatest needs were in the church.
Interestingly enough, 98% of the pastors who responded listed as either their #1 or #2 need -
This does not mean being a pastor.
But this does mean having a role to play.
The church is a body.
Some churches have the body of an Olympic athlete; well-trained, disciplined, all parts of the body working together in perfect concert.
Other churches have the body of a couch potato, lying around watching while others do the work.
Some churches even have the body of a disabled person, many parts have atrophied and have become useless.
Each and every person has a role to play in the body of Christ.
The church cannot function unless we all discover our spiritual gift and take our place of service and ministry.
In his book, THE REBIRTH OF MINISTRY, James D. Smart says this:
"Jesus was not satisfied in having a succession of audiences to which He might proclaim His Gospel.
Jesus was interested primarily in having disciples in whom and through whom His ministry would be multiplied many times over."
Paul does not give these spiritual gifts as an exhaustive list to be put on a piece of paper to examine.
He lists the gifts as examples of what God does in, for, and through his children.
Paul through this passage is giving a call to all believers to use their gifts!
So christian, are you using your gifts?
Romans 12:3–8 ESV
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
We began last week with the warning that Paul gives as he introduces spiritual gifts.
Romans 12:3 ESV
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
His warning is to not think too highly of ourselves.
Beware of your pride.
This is important leading into the discussion of spiritual gifts that Paul has because spiritual gifts are not gifts solely for our own benefit.
In fact I think from scripture we can make the case that they are not even primarily for our own benefit.
Rather the spiritual gifts that God gives us as believers are for the benefit of those around us.
Which is why Paul goes on in verse 4-5 to give the analogy of a body.
Romans 12:4–5 ESV
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
The New Testament shows that spiritual gifts are given to strengthen the church and are a picture of divine unity in the body of Christ.
Often though, discussion of spiritual gifts cause divisions in the church.
It is because their purpose is missed.
The focus is on me, rather than we.
Spiritual gifts are meant to be a blessing.
Things that unite us, things that cause us to function properly together as a church body.
Paul writes in 1 Cor
1 Corinthians 12:21–26 ESV
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
In discovering the gifts God gives each of us, we trust God to make us a blessing to others in the body by using the gifts He has given to us.
Every one of us as believers has a spiritual gift or gifts, without exception.
And they are exactly the gifts which the Spirit of God wants us to have.
In the analogy of a body.
What does my eye do best? It sees.
For what purpose?
Just so I can enjoy the light, the color and the shapes that come in?
No! It sees so that I won't run into the wall, or trip up the steps.
It sees so I can find the food that I want to put into my mouth, so I can read and gain knowledge,
so I know to whom I'm speaking.
Seeing is not an end in itself.
It is intended to benefit the whole body.
My eyes perform an extremely important function in daily living, as people who have lost their sight can testify.
When we think of our bodies though, there are other parts that don't seem to be quite that significant, like my eyebrows.
But I would look funny without them--or funnier, I should say.
In humans, eyebrows serve two main functions: first, communication through facial expression,
and second, prevention of sweat, water, and other debris from falling down into the eye.
You see, while not quite as prominent as my eyes, they are still important.
Every part of our bodies has a function to perform, and every one is important.
And every member of the body of Christ has a function to perform, and every one is important.
The point is to use our gifts in service to our Lord, and in service to one another.
People, created in the image of God, are made for relationships.
Although the term “relationship” does not appear as a word in most modern translations of the Bible, the concept is found in all the books of the Bible.
The term “one another” is repeated numerous times in the New Testament—
The one another phrase is used to show how a believer is to relate (or be in a certain relationship) to another believer.
I want to introduce this idea because this is where Paul is going directly following the discussion of spiritual gifts.
When sin entered the world, the way people relate to one another was disrupted.
The theme that we are looking at Romans 12 with, why not now.
What Paul is encouraging his readers in Rome, and us today is.
Why not now use the gifts that God has given you in service to one another.
Romans 12:6–8 ESV
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul lists in these verses, lists a few gifts in order to provide a clear example of using gifts in relation to one another.
This is not an exhaustive list, but what do you notice about each one.
Prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leadership, acts of mercy.
Each of these, while containing some semblance of inward focus, is primarily directed outward.


The first Paul lists is a difficult one in conservative Christian circles.
Paul writes

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith

There’s a lot of controversy and difficulty in defining this gift.
Wayne Grudem has written a book, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament & Today [Crossway, 1988], arguing that this gift, properly defined, is valid for the church today.
I agree with him on this, but also offer a word of caution.
Paul is not speaking here of prophecy in the OT sense, or even in the sense of what God revealed through the apostles.
Thus says the Lord,
Grudem distinguishes between the apostolic gift of prophecy,
which transmitted authoritative revelation to the church and this spiritual gift,
which required evaluation and discernment to determine its application and validity.
He defines it (Systematic Theology, p. 1049, italics his) as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.”
This is not saying the first thing that comes to mind.
This is done with prayerful consideration.
The caution comes in how this is misconstrued and misused.
One significant example is the whole of the Mormon faith.
The Mormon faith is based upon the idea that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
LDS church members view senior Church leaders — Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the presidents of the Church that followed —
as prophets of God in the same way they view Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and the apostles in the day of Jesus Christ.
They view their current president as such, which is why significant changes have taken place in their history.
A new prophet can declare something formerly not allowed as good or vice versa, claiming new revelation from God.
Paul though in 1 Cor refers to prophecy
1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV
3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
This gift is not so much about the future, as upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
The word consolation is
that which serves as encouragement to one who is depressed or in grief, encouragement, comfort
Paul says in Rom 12 that it is done in proportion to our faith
Or another way of putting it is in agreement with.
Words spoken are not governed by emotions or love of speaking,
but must only be spoken with what what God has given to speak.
Any words spoken will be in agreement with scripture.
As I said, this is not the first thing that pops into your head to say, but matched with scripture and the character of God.
And it is a gift given by God.
Not something to strive to have.
Not a goal to shoot for.
But a gift to be recognized.
It can be a source of great spiritual blessing to the church.


This is the same gift called "helping" in 1 Corinthians 12:28.
It is the gift used by the Seven who became deacons in Acts 6.
They took care of physical needs in the early church so that the apostles would be free for prayer and the ministry of the Word.
It isn't just the ability to do a job that needs to be done so others can exercise their gifts, but the right attitude in doing it.
People with this gift love to do whatever they can to enhance the ministry.
They see what needs to be done, and they do it joyfully, for the glory of the Lord and the strengthening of His work.
This is a gift I see very well put on display in our church, especially in all we have done this summer.
But it’s also more than big projects, it’s the little things done each week.
Do you enjoy doing things behind the scenes?


Teaching is the ability to explain and apply the truths of Scripture, to communicate the truth of God's Word that we have learned from our study.
Do people seem to understand God's Word better when you explain it to them?
Do you sense that the light goes on, and it begins to make sense to them?
Do they want to get into it because they've been so encouraged by what you've said?
Are they motivated to change their lives so that others can see the changes?
If so, then perhaps God has given you the gift of teaching.
The challenge to you today is, "Get busy and start teaching."
Don't just sit there; teach something!
Block out some time to study God's Word so that God's Spirit can speak to you through it.
Then think through the clearest way to explain it to others, then begin to share your insights,
whether it be one on one, or in small groups or large groups--it makes no difference.
Use that gift that God has given you.
There are a number of opportunities to teach.
For instance - If we wanted to have Sunday school on Sunday mornings here at the church - we would need 3 teachers.
Kid’s club is an opportunity to teach, thank to to those who have taught in the past! There are opportunities to teach there.
Perhaps it’s specific men’s or women’s bible study you feel a desire to teach.
Perhaps you would like to help with Youth Group.
There are numerous opportunities for this here in the church.
One of the requirements to teach in the church is membership.
The purpose of that is for accountability within the church.
Teaching can be an difficult task, but it is also very rewarding.
I would encourage you to not be intimidated by it either.
Because what you are teaching, is really what you are learning yourself!


Exhortation or encouragement.
The word can be translated either way and is translated both ways in various passages of Scripture.
It's a motivational gift with two sides to it.
On one hand, the people with this gift can challenge believers.
That's the exhortation side.
They challenge believers to live as God wants them to live, to press on to higher ground in their Christian walk, to become more like the Savior.
That's the challenge side.
On the other hand, they can comfort those who are discouraged and depressed so that their burden is lifted and new hope springs up in their hearts.
If this is you, then be alert for opportunities to challenge others, and look for people who need to be encouraged.
Use the gift that God has given you.
This gift is meant to see others grow in their relationships with the Lord.


The next one can make us a little uncomfortable. Giving
I think a lot more people could have this spiritual gift if they acknowledged it.
God gives to some individuals either an unusual ability to earn and give money to God's work,
or an unusual level of pleasure in giving what they do have,
however little or much that may be.
They love to give.
They give generously and they trust God to meet their own needs.
Paul says here, "the one who contributes, in generosity."
In generosity more accurately means "with sincerity," or "single-mindedly."

what you see is what you get’) simplicity, sincerity, uprightness, frankness

The person with the gift of giving has no ulterior motive for giving.
This person isn't trying to get praise from anybody;
this person is not trying to impress people, or buy influence.
They just see the need and want to help meet it.
This gift is not talking about giving time, but money and things.
Giving of time was covered by service.
This is about the heart behind the giving.


the one who leads, with zeal

This word means literally "to stand before."
The person who stands before a group is normally the leader of the group,
the one who presides over it, administers and manages it.
But in the spiritual realm he doesn't do it with a club.
The Lord Jesus taught us the essence of leadership when he said, "...whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant" (Mark 10:43).
The leader in God's economy is a servant!
He gives of himself tirelessly in service to others.
Do you have the ability to lead by humble example and faithful service?
Then do it with diligence; do it with eagerness; do it with excitement.
Don't wing it.
Put yourself into it whole-heartedly.
Use that gift that God has given to you!
The final gift mentioned is


The gift of showing mercy is the ability to put yourself in the place of those in need,
to feel what they are feeling, and then to do whatever is necessary to help relieve their misery.
A person with this gift has a knack of knowing what to do to relieve suffering.
Maybe you're like that.
Others are not.
They would rather avoid hurting people--the sick, the poor, the aged, the disabled.
But you feel a deep hurt inside you and you are drawn to them.
You want to get personally involved in meeting their need.
And you do it with cheerfulness.
There isn't any other way to exercise this gift.
Nobody will be truly helped by an old grouch who ministers to them only out of a sense of duty.
Do you feel a joyful and satisfying fulfillment when you get involved in helping people with needs?
Then reach out and extend mercy.
Use that gift!
As I said, each of these gifts are given to use in service to one another.
We need to end with another short discussion that we cannot leave out.
How do you know what your gifts are?
How does a person discover what his or her spiritual gifts are?
I’m not a fan of spiritual gift inventories.
They can be somewhat helpful.
But too often people trust these to lock in on some supposed gift that they have and it boxes them in so that they are not open to other possibilities.
First, to discover your gifts, get involved in serving in a number of different ways.
It appears and has been my experience that God only directs moving vehicles.
So start serving and if God needs to redirect you, He will.
As you serve, you will discover that you enjoy doing some things more than others.
God uses our desires to direct us.
This doesn’t mean that you will find your area of gift easy to do.
I find teaching God’s Word to be difficult and stressful.
But like all hard work, there is satisfaction after the work is done.
Also, when you serve in a certain area that you’re gifted in, God will give a measure of blessing so that others will comment on how much your ministry meant to them.
Another way to perhaps discern your gift is, is one that that may surprise you:
What do you complain about in the church?
People tend to complain in their area of giftedness.
Gifted teachers complain that the teaching is weak.
Those gifted in administration grumble about the church being poorly organized.
Those gifted in mercy gripe that the church neglects the shut-ins.
Those gifted in evangelism shake their heads at the lack of interest in outreach.
And so it goes.
The solution, of course, is to quit complaining and start serving in your area of giftedness, so that the church will improve in that area.
Also I should point out that there is not necessarily a correlation between the effectiveness of a person’s gift and that person’s spiritual maturity.
Someone may be a gifted evangelist, but he is spiritually immature, so that his life is not a good advertisement for the gospel.
The enemy often uses this to bring dishonor to the name of Christ.
We all should be growing in maturity and be careful that if God grants us great results in some ministry,
our lives are Christ-like and do not cause a scandal for the gospel.
Do you know the gifts that God has given you?
For those older individuals in the congregation, there is at times the feeling they have run their race, passed the baton so to speak.
The Christian life is not a relay race though.
There is a book I have been dabbling in called If You Passed Your Baton...TAKE IT BACK
The premise is true.
The author writes
In the United States, we have two generations of seniors who feel they have been told their time is over. they have been told to pass the baton, quit running, and get off the track--they are no longer needed the race. We must have a shift in our thinking. We have confused the baton of engagement with the mantle of leadership. AS seniors, we must embrace the concept of pouring into the next generation, passing the mantle of leadership, and staying in the race until God calls us home.
If you know your gifts, you have the unique opportunity to come alongside others as well to see them grow in the gift.
That ultimately God is more greatly glorified by us coming together!
God has given you a gift or gifts.
That's what he says.
Do you know what your gifts are?
What have you done with them?
Are they sitting in the corner, or stored in a closet somewhere?
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