If only the Church could learn and employ the true “charisma” the gifts of grace, given by the Holy Ghost our congregations would be future proofed against carnal strife and division.
The Characteristics of Christian Behaviour
(e) God’s Grace Gifts to his Church
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Having defined the Church as “one body” with “many members” Paul explains how the many members ought to behave. Christian behaviour within the Church ought to be regulated by one consideration; our gifts. If we have truly surrendered our bodies (v1) and if our mind is renewed (v2) and if we refuse to entertain proud ideas in relation to ourselves then we are truly prepared to exercise the gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon us. The Greek word “Charisma”, translated “gifts” in v6, is particularly instructive. The word literally means a gift of grace. God by his grace has given gifts to his people, Therefore the grace of God that exists in our hearts should be used to enrich and bless the lives of other Christians in the Church; members of the one body. What are these gifts that we need to exercise? Paul in this passage mentions 7 although the number is not absolute. There are other gifts mentioned in other passages, but this study will major upon the Romans list.
1: Prophecy – The prophet was not a person who only foretold the future; in the Old and New Testaments the prophet was chiefly a person who spoke for God. Some of his utterances related to the future but principally his ministry was for the present generation whom he served. The prophets were men inspired by the Holy Ghost in a unique manner (Moses – Exodus 4:10; Abraham – Genesis 20:7; John the Baptist – Luke 7:26-28; Agabus – Acts 21:10-14). The gift is foremost in the New Testament Church (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11) because it includes the gift of inspiration with which the penmen of Scripture were endowed. All of the writers of Scripture were prophets. Therefore this was a gift given to the early church which no longer applies today. Nevertheless through the Bible we benefit from the Spirit of Prophecy. Even the prophet, however, was bound to give a word that was consistent with revealed faith (“the proportion of faith”). Therefore a false prophet could be identified if he contradicted the Scriptures already given.
2: Ministry – Ministry comes from the verb “diakoneo” meaning to serve. This is the verb from which the word deacon or servant is derived. This includes the office of deacon (Acts 6:1-6) but its scope is much wider. We should give ourselves in service to others for the sake of the gospel remembering Christ our example (Matthew 20:28).
3: Teaching – This is a vital gift in the New Testament Church today. It includes the work of the pastor but it also includes the ministry of parents to their young, Sunday-School teachers to their class, children’s workers to their meetings, youth workers to their groups. The teacher is principally a student who gives himself/herself to the Word in order that others might be instructed. When we are under the teacher we need teachable hearts for own benefit.
4: Exhortation – This comes from the verb “parakeleo” which is translated beseech, desire, entreat, and console. It is used of the Holy Spirit our Comforter (John 14:16,26,15:26 and 16:7). We need to draw alongside others who are hurting and struggling to encourage them and help them (Barnabas – Acts 4:36).
5: Giving – In a Roman society without social welfare giving was a vital ministry (Acts 2:44-45). This gift is best exercised through our giving to God’s work and to missionaries who help in other places. We should look for practical ways, however, by which we can be of assistance to others, both believers and unbelievers. This giving should be conducted with “simplicity” – not for the self gain.
6: Ruling – This refers to good leadership. The Church needs to led by able Godly men. No Church can function without leadership and we need to support and pray for those have such offices in the Church. The elders and deacons must exercise “diligence” – the greatest of care – to earn the support of the flock.
7: Mercy – Mercy is a grace gift which we all possess because God has been merciful to us. Therefore we must show a spirit of forgiveness to those who have wronged us (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:36). This mercy should principally rise from the heart. Therefore it should be exercised with cheerfulness (the word is “hilarotes” from which “hilarious” is derived). If we can show mercy, can we do it with joy?
Let us then consider these gifts and ask ourselves; “How are we exercising them in our fellowship?” If we desire the blessing of the Spirit then it is vital that we bless each other in a spiritual way by stirring up the gift of God within (2 Timothy 1:6). To do so is to be the good steward and the faithful servant (Matthew 25:21,23).