The Modern search for Spiritual Gifts: Romans 12:3-8

I don’t really write about too many things that happen on the day-to-day basis, but I wanted to share something that happened yesterday after our prayer meeting that totally made my day! The meeting ended up running late (10:20pm), and while I was complaining about my sleep schedule some guy knocked on the door. He introduced himself.

Korbil asked us to pray for him and told us that he felt so distant from God, that he was searching for a sign and was frustrated at things not going well. I have no idea what to expect asides from this: God wants him back. To see genuine conviction not only in tears, but in courage to come talk to us, isn’t exactly a regular occurrence.

Back on topic! Gloria chose Romans 12:3-8 for us to read.

WARNING: This is a long read so don’t start if you ain’t gonna commit, I’d hate to give the wrong impression. I love God’s spiritual gifts and have been blessed by many with 🙂

 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. (V12:3)

So how is it that we ought to think? Paul tells us to think with sober judgment, and to have the mindset that our strengths are all assigned by God. Humility isn’t saying “I have no gifts”, it’s saying “I have been assigned gifts by God”. Paul deliberately uses this word to create an image of God distributing gifts, not us earning them.

As a side note, there are things you can apply from this passage to judge others, however, Paul isn’t talking about that so I won’t either (the focus is on self-examination).

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (V12:4-5)

Paul is getting to the core of the luxury of spiritual gifts. Without diversity and strengths in different areas, it’s hard to do everything that we need. Combined, our strengths allow us to build our churches and fellowships, and we do this because we are unified under Christ.

But Paul doesn’t categorize these functions by gifts.

No, he tells us that we all have something to do and we are all called to serve in some way or another. That we all have a function. Brothers and Sisters, we could live our whole lives without sitting down in Romans 12 to pinpoint our gifts, and still use our gifts perfectly fine! Don’t let this passage lead you in a search for gifts, when it was written to increase your service in God.

God gave all of us functions in the body of Christ.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 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. (V12:6-8)

It’s nice to know that God gave us such a pleasant array of gifts, but the point of this passage isn’t to enlighten us about these gifts, it’s telling us to use them. Did anyone actually read this passage and go, “OOHHHH, the gift of service is used for serving”? Of course not! It’s there because some people clearly have this gift yet bless no one with it.

I said it before and I’ll say it again:

Don’t let this be a search to discover your “true identity” in Spiritual Gifts. Knowing your spiritual gifts won’t suddenly make them more effective if your actions don’t change, because in reality our works speak the loudest.

What this passage DOESN’T SAY:

Find your Gifts and only serve in those areas. We pigeon-hole people into a mentality that these gifts are the only things they are called to. Paul never said don’t serve in areas you aren’t gifted in, he just points out that it would be a waste to have unused gifts. Definitely serve in these areas but don’t limit yourself!

Ask for more Gifts. Pray for more gifts, for sure! But Paul says we can already use what God has assigned us perfectly fine. These verses aren’t a question of the quantity or quality of our gifts, but how we are using them.

With those aside …

There is a higher expectation for those who are given more. It says it all throughout the passage, whether it’s the faith that God assigned, or the grace given to us.

Look at the apostles, look at Paul! They would probably relate to everything on this list, and many, many more. In fact, they were given gifts way beyond the magnitude of those described in the letters that it was ridiculous.

If only I had those gifts, I would be just as great, right?

If we find ourselves asking the question “Why did God give me nothing”, maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if we’ve proven we can use the little God has given us so that he can entrust us with more. Things are not fair. We were all given different amounts of faith and grace in our lives but it’s because we want these gifts for ourselves that we start complaining. Are you ready to be martyred in the name of God once he gives you these gifts? If not, you really have nothing to be envious of from the apostles.

These gifts are from God, for the kingdom, so regardless of what hand we’re dealt, we call.

Michael “That feel when Jesus dealt me a 2-7 Offsuit” Ru


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