God has given each of us gifts and abilities. Consider the gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” I believe that these are gifts that we have today, with the possible exception of the gift of prophesy. If we take a prophet to be one who proclaims new truths from God or foretells the future, I believe that prophesies have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8). But if we take a prophet to be one who proclaims the word of God, there are still prophets today. The prophets of Israel and Judah often saw the failings of the people and warned them of coming judgement if they didn’t repent. If the gift of prophesy is to see the shortcomings and proclaim the necessity of repentance, then there are Christians gifted as prophets today.
Let us look at the other gifts listed in Romans 12. The next gift is ministry. The word ministry literally means service. There are people today with the gift of service. They excel in service to others and they enjoy serving. Then there is teaching. Some people have the gift to teach others the principles and commands and truths of God in a way that is interesting and understandable. We love to hear them teach and we learn so much from them. Next, there are those who are great exhorters. They encourage others to be the people they need to be. Perhaps they are patting people on the back and telling them words they need to hear to succeed. Next are the givers – those who see the needs of others and liberally give of what they have to meet the needs. When they run across a new item or resource, they instantly think of those who could use and benefit from that item or resource. Next are the leaders. In a group of people, the leaders are those who want to take charge and show the way to go. They direct each participant in what part they should play or else they lead by example and are at the forefront of any effort. Finally, there are the merciful. They see the pain or the weaknesses in other people’s lives and rather than being judgmental, they offer mercy and comfort. They empathize and sympathize with the weak and needy.
Parents that have more than one child see the differences in their children; one child may be athletic and the next artistic and the next good in mathematics. Each child has different gifts and abilities. In the same way, in the church, each member has different gifts and abilities. Many years ago we gave a survey to our congregation that pointed out the gifts that each member possessed. It was very interesting to see the differences in our gifts. Each person typically had several gifts but one or more gift dominated. We were not alike. And that is the point that is being made in Romans 12. We are members of the one body of Christ, but all the members do not have the same function, ability or gift. We need each other to have a healthy, functioning body.
What are the gifts of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Value the gifts that they have which are different from yours. What are your gifts? Use your gifts for the benefit of the body and for the glory of the Lord.