In verses 4-8, Paul now turns to discussing the key activity of a surrendered life. He has encouraged believers in verses 1-2 to present and surrender themselves to God and to refuse to be conformed to this world’s values. In verse 3, Paul explained how important it was to keep the correct attitude of humility if we wanted to serve and follow Jesus. Now he commands the church at Rome to receive and exercise the gifts of the Spirit which God will bestow upon them. He explains that finding their place in the body of Christ is the next step of a surrendered life. Paul declared, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 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” (Rom. 12:4-8).
What is the key activity of a surrendered life?
1. Finding your place of service in the body of Christ. Once you come to faith in Christ, and you choose to surrender your life to Jesus, the next thing that is naturally birthed in your heart is a desire to serve the Lord. If you don’t have this natural desire within to serve the Lord, this should cause you concern. Why would I say this? Because serving Him is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). This was the first thing on Paul’s mind once he realized that it was Jesus who confronted him on the road to Damascus. The Scripture records, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’” (Acts 9:1-6). This was Paul’s first thought. What do you want me to do?
This was also Isaiah’s first inclination when he met God face to face in a vision. Once God had cleansed Isaiah of his sin the prophet declared, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ And He said, ‘Go, and tell this people...’” (Isa. 6:8-9). This is why I have said that the first activity of your surrendered life is that you should desire to serve the Lord. Is this your longing today? If it’s not, ask God to bring you to a place of surrender, and ask Him to help motivate you to offer your life up to Him. You will never regret it!
Another reason service to God is a natural desire for a surrendered life, is that you must realize that serving others is the primary way you serve God. Jesus made this clear to the disciples when He commanded them to care for the poor and the stranger among them. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). Jesus clearly counts your service to others as service to Himself. This is a powerful and essential truth to understand.
There are many ways that you can serve the Lord. You can serve Him through evangelism, teaching, giving to others financially, or caring for those in need. However, always remember that the primary service that you render is that you first present yourself to God. This will always be your reasonable service to Him.
Four key principles.
What are the key principles that Paul wants to teach in this text of Scripture? The truths Paul is about to teach in these verses will help you to find your place of service in the body of Christ. They will also keep you from thinking that you and your service to others are not important. Let’s consider these principles now.
1. Realize that you are a member of the greater body of Christ. The first principle is found in verses 4-5. Paul teaches, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Do you see yourself as a member of the greater body of Christ, or do you see yourself as an independent, nameless Christian who really has no connection to other believers? This is an important question to answer. The reason Paul uses this analogy of a physical body, and then relates it to the church, is that you can easily understand this important truth. Just as each of us can comprehend that every part of our body has a very specific purpose to fulfill, even so each believer has a very specific part to fulfill in the greater body of Christ. Without you the church at large does not function properly, with every member fulfilling their purpose. Think of what it would be like if your physical body were missing a limb. You would likewise have great difficulty functioning in life. It is essential for every Christian to realize that they have a special place in the body of Christ, and that without them the church will not fulfill its God intended purpose. Do you realize that just as God knows the names of every star in the heavens, He also knows you by name (Is. 40:26)? Jesus said concerning His sheep in John 10:3, “He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” You are not some nameless, forgotten, independent believer. No, He has preordained a purpose and a plan for you to fulfill in His church. He knows everything about you, and He knows exactly how He wants to use you within His kingdom. You are part of His body, and have an individual function that you must fulfill, or the church will be crippled in some way.
2. Realize that you are members of one another. The second principle is just as important as the first. Note in verse 5, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” We are individual members of Christ’s body, but we are also members of one another. This is an important truth because some Christians think, OK, I can see that I’m in the body of Christ, but I don’t need all those people at church. I’m going to do my own thing. No, this is not how it works! Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And 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.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Cor. 12:14-22). You are not only a part of Christ and His church, but you are also spiritually connected to the other members of His Body. This simply means that you need others, and they need you!
To understand the importance of seeing your connection to others in the church, you must study the Scriptures to realize your responsibility to others. This Bible study will hopefully awaken you to your responsibility, and help you see just how connected you are to others. Do you realize that you affect other people? You can affect other believers for good or evil. You can either build up others, or you can tear them down. Scripture is full of encouragements to love one another, edify one another, receive one another, admonish one another, or serve one another, just to name a few of these commands (Rom. 12:10; Rom. 14:19; Rom. 15:7; Rom. 15:14; Gal. 5:13). However, one of the most important passages on this topic is found in Ephesians 4:25 where Paul commands, “Therefore, put away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, [Why?] for we are members of one another.” The apostle teaches the necessity of all believers to speak the truth with other Christians. Consider what would happen if the members of your physical body lied to the rest of your body. You would have a real problem. Think about what would happen if you cut your leg wide-open so deeply that you hit an artery. But then suppose your leg lied and didn’t communicate the pain you were feeling to your brain. What would happen? You would quickly bleed to death, simply because your body lied to itself and didn’t take care of another part of the body. Could you ever conceive of your brain thinking, “I don’t need that leg anyway?” Never! The central nervous system connects all parts of the body together to the rest. Consequently, every believer needs to speak the truth, and not lie to other believers. When someone asks you after service next Sunday how are you doing, when you are depressed, will you tell them the truth? If you lie and say, “I’m fine,” you are not speaking the truth. In reality you are bleeding, and you don’t want anyone to know. This will only end with you continuing to be depressed, and your spiritual health will decline. This is why the Scripture has commanded us to, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). To obey this command requires honesty and humility that motivates us to confess our needs and lets others pray for us. This will facilitate our spiritual healing and the health of the church overall. Remember, we are all a part of Christ, and also members of one another.
3. Realize that all of God’s gifts are given by grace. Paul says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them...” Paul wants his readers to realize that God’s gifting can never be deserved. Neither can God’s gifts be achieved by being more righteous than the next person. God’s gifts are given by grace alone, just as salvation is given by grace through faith. All you must do is, by faith, ask God for His gifting in your life, and then receive these gifts and use them for His glory.
In the next few verses in this text, Paul is about to list seven specific gifts of the Spirit. These are not the only gifts that God wants to give His people, because there are several others listed in Scripture. Another list of nine gifts is given in 1 Cor. 12:7-11. Eight more gifts are listed in 1 Cor. 12:28, and another five gifts in Ephesians 4:11. In these lists you have some gifts repeated and then other gifts that are new. Excluding the repeats in these lists, there are at least seventeen gifts of the Spirit. These are supernatural abilities given to men and women to strengthen and build up the church of Jesus Christ. God promised through the Prophet Joel, “‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy’” (Acts 2:17-18). God’s Holy Spirit has been poured out upon His people, and He has anointed men and women to receive supernatural empowering that they may serve Him.
The next question is obvious. Do you know which of these gifts God has given to you? Many say to me, “I don’t know if I have any gifts,” or others are more emphatic, “God hasn’t given me any gifts.” Oh, but He has given each of you at least one gift of the Spirit. How can I be so sure? Because God’s Word declares that He has! In 1 Corinthians 12:7 Paul said, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7). This verse is very clear. “Each one” is given a manifestation of the Spirit to profit the body of Christ as a whole. In 1 Peter 4:10 Peter taught, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Again, notice that Peter declared that “each one has received a gift” from God. You have been given a gift, but which one has He given you? To help you determine which gift God has given you, please go to https://covenantkeepers.org/bible-studies/discipleship-studies?layout=edit&id=580 This questionnaire will be extremely helpful for you in determining your gift. Read through the questions and answer them to the best of your ability. There is an answer key at the end of the document that will reveal which gifts correspond to each question.
But, if you think to yourself, God could never use me, do you then realize that thinking like this is simply unbelief? If you persist in thinking this way and resisting God’s instruction, then He probably won’t use you. But the opposite is the truth. God has already stated in His word that He wants to use you, if you will be receptive and believe in Him.
Now I understand that some of you may think that because of your personality there are specific gifts God would never choose to give you, but again I would warn you about thinking this way. Why? Because we have examples in Scripture of people thinking this way and then God chooses to use them in spite of themselves. Do you remember that this is exactly what Moses told God? After God called Moses to go to Pharaoh and told him that He would be with him, Moses said, “‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt’” (Ex. 3:11)? Then God tried persuading Moses with several signs to convince him that God could use him, but Moses responded again, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue. So the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say’” (Ex. 4:10-12). Did God keep His promise and anoint the mouth of Moses? Did God go with Moses and support him every step of the way? Yes! God took the man who was not eloquent and made him one of the great communicators in history.
In addition, I have personally seen God do the same thing with me. When I became a Christian the very last thing that I ever thought God would call me to do was to become a pastor-teacher within the church. Why do I say this? Because I was the guy who never spoke up in class and refused to do public speaking of any kind. So, be careful what you think God can’t do. He can use anyone to do anything He calls them to do. Why does He choose to pick people to do things they think are impossible for them to do? So that all the glory will go to Him. Remember, all the gifts are bestowed by grace.
What is the overall point that Paul is making in this passage? Paul is saying, “If you have surrendered yourself to God, then humble yourself to Him, receive your gifting from Him, and use your gifts to fulfill your reasonable service to Him. It is all by grace, so let Him do His work through you.”
4. The listing of some of the gifts of the Spirit. What are these gifts, and how do you receive them and use them within the church? Paul lists several here for you to consider. These gifts are extremely important and should be exercised within the church. God may give you one of these gifts, so be receptive.
* Prophecy. First, Paul lists one of the verbal gifts of the Spirit, which is prophecy. This gift gives a person the supernatural ability to communicate God’s Word in a spontaneous way. This gift is exercised in many different ways within the church. I have seen the gift of prophecy used in teaching and preaching from the pulpit at church, or in-home Bible studies. Prophecy is a flash of insight, wisdom, or revelation given in an instant where the person exercising this gift realizes at that moment what God wants to say. It is a message that has not been planned by the speaker and won’t be found in their notes. It is a message from God to people’s hearts that burns within them, and they sense God is speaking to them. The Apostle Paul said that “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” (1 Cor. 14:3). He also said that when this gift operates in the church people will be convicted and the secrets of the heart will be revealed (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
This gift can also be exercised by someone speaking out spontaneously a word from the Lord during a prayer meeting, or as people wait quietly upon the Lord. The Lord uses this gift in this manner as confirmation to what will be heard in the Bible study, or to speak to a need that will not be covered by the teaching. I can’t count how many times people have spoken out verses of Scripture that I am about to teach on in the Bible study, yet they have no knowledge of the topic or verses that I am about to cover. This gift then brings added conviction to a person’s heart who is present. If God puts a verse of Scripture upon your heart or He gives you a special word of prophecy on a topic, please be obedient to God and speak it out when it is appropriate. Who knows what will happen in the heart of someone who hears it? However, remember that all prophecy given by an individual must be tested as you would any teaching given in a Bible study. These words of prophecy must be in agreement with the truth of the Word of God as already revealed in the Old and New Testament. God will never contradict Himself from what He has already stated in His Word (Acts 15:13-15). Paul warned, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:19-21). In addition, this gift must be exercised decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). This means that you would never interrupt someone else who is speaking. You should wait until the person speaking finishes and then you may speak. God is not the author of confusion, but order (1 Cor. 14:30-33).
Another use of the gift of prophecy is foretelling the future. Most people know that prophecy concerning future events was given by the prophets in the Old Testament, but prophetic utterances concerning the future were also found in the New Testament. Jesus predicted many future events that were recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The Prophet Agabus also gave two prophecies dealing with future events that both came to pass. In Acts 11:28 it declares, “Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.” Also, in Acts 21:10-11 Luke records, “And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” This prophecy came to pass when Paul was arrested in Jerusalem.
Now I must add a word of caution. Futuristic prophecy must always be tested just as you would any other form of prophecy. These prophecies must be held to the same standard as Old Testament prophets were, which is, these prophetic words must come to pass. If they do not, then the person who gave a prediction of the future event should never give a prophetic utterance again!
Another requirement is that every person must prophecy “in proportion to our faith.” I believe every gift of the Spirit must be exercised with the proportion or the amount of faith that a person possesses. Remember, everyone begins with a base measure of faith, but as you use the gifting God has given you, then your faith will grow, and you will mature in the use of your gift. Therefore, using the faith you have will enable you to grow in your service and gifting. Jesus taught this truth in a similar way concerning hearing Him. He said, “‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ Then He said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him’” (Mark 4:23-25). Jesus is very clear when He says, if you hear Him then “more will be given” to you. The warning is also clear. If you don’t hear Him or use what He has given you, then He will take away even what you have. If you want to grow in your faith and the gifting you possess you must do two things. First, begin by receiving your gift, and then second, begin to use your gift in service to others.
If you don’t act on what He gives you, then there is no reason for Him to give you anything more. Notice the last part of Mark 4:25 where Jesus says, “But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Jesus is simply saying, use it or lose it. Use the gifting God has given to you, otherwise there is no reason for Him to give you anything more. So, if you want to grow in your faith, do what the Lord has shown you to do. Speak, minister, serve, support, strengthen, do whatever He is telling you to do. As you do, you will grow in your proportion of faith and your effectiveness in your service to Him.
* Ministry. The second gift listed is in verse 7, the gift of ministry. Paul writes, “Or ministry, let us use it in our ministering.” In other words, use the gift you have in whatever ministry you are involved in. Use your gift for Him. The word ministry literally means service, or to support in a spiritual or physical way as you help others. This is a supernatural gift to aid and support others. All of us are called to serve one another, and to serve the Lord which is our reasonable service, but some people have a supernatural gifting in supporting ministries that help others (Gal. 5:13). These people would be those who organize events, teach Sunday School, those who are deacons in the church, or those involved in missionary work such as Operation Christmas Child, just to name a few examples. People with this gift are always the ones who sign up to help and serve when the call goes out for volunteers. This person wants to serve anywhere they see a need. With some people who have a gift of ministry, I have had to encourage them to be careful in not getting over committed with service opportunities. Why would I do this? Because it is very easy for this person to get overwhelmed with their service. They can fall into the Martha-pitfall, and become “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:38-42).
In Acts 6:2-4 Luke recorded, “Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’” The word for serve tables and the words ministry of the word are the same words for this ministry gift we are studying. It is important to note from these verses that there is a service of tables, and there is service of the ministry of the word. Both are specific giftings within the body of Christ. Also, in Romans 16:1-2, Paul wrote, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” Again, the word used in these verses for servant is the same word for the gift of ministry that we are considering. Phoebe most likely carried the epistle to the Romans, and she was commended for being one who has been a helper of many. What a great testimony of this woman and her faithfulness and service to the church.
One last thought on this gift is found in Ephesians 4:11-12, where Paul explains a vital truth that should not be missed. He writes, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Notice, all apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers are given their giftings so that they can help the rest of the church find their particular place of ministry and service to God. This is exactly what I am doing as I write these words!
* Teaching. The next gift is teaching. The word teaching means simply to give instruction. This gift reveals the great need in the church for people to be instructed. Yes, you can learn by simply reading the Scripture yourself, but there are people who are gifted by God to help you understand and apply God’s Word in your life. Paul declared that God, “Has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Titus 1:3). The word manifested means to reveal the true character and meaning of the Word of God. So, in other words, a gifted teacher can supernaturally open your understanding to the true meaning and application of a passage of Scripture. I’m sure all of you have sat and listened to instruction from a teacher and come away with a clearer understanding and meaning of a passage or topic. If so, you were benefitted by the gift of teaching. This gift is seen in church pulpits, home Bible studies, counseling sessions, and countless Sunday School classrooms every week.
It is also important to remember that every believer is called to teach at times. Jesus commanded every disciple to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). All of us are then called to teach others to obey what Jesus has taught us. Some have asked, “But how can I determine if I am gifted to teach others in the church?” That is a great question! The best place to begin is to do just what Jesus said, teaching others to obey His commands. You can do this by discipling your children and those that you know who are new believers. As you do that you will realize that you love to teach others. Sensing your love and a desire to teach others is a clear leading by the Holy Spirit to find other avenues for the exercise of your gifting. If you are called to teach, people will come up to you and tell you how much they have received from your teaching, which only gives you further confirmation of your gifting. So, begin to disciple a newer believer and the Lord will show you if this is your gift.
* Exhortation. Next is the gift of exhortation. Paul wrote in verse 8, “He who exhorts, in exhortation.” The word exhortation means to call to one’s side, to encourage, or to comfort. This definition gives you a word picture of someone putting their arm around you and bringing you to their side when you are struggling. They seem to be able to speak to you just the right words to strengthen and encourage you. That is the gift of exhortation and comfort! Did you know that God is a God of encouragement and comfort? In 2 Corinthians 1:3 Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” The word comfort in this verse is the same word for exhortation. God is the God of all exhortation and comfort. He is the God who comforts and encourages you every day.
One of the best ways to discern if someone has a gift of exhortation, is that you are just naturally drawn to them. You know who to go to when you are discouraged, and who to seek out when you are struggling or depressed. You recognize that this person has a special ability to know just what to say that can strengthen your heart. You can also help someone who possesses the gift of exhortation by telling them that you recognize this gift in them. You can be that confirmation to them for their ministry. The same thing is true if someone gives a word of prophecy, or is a great teacher; make sure you tell them, so you can be that exhortation to them!
This gift is extremely important for those who counsel others or those who teach. If that is your gift, pray and ask God to further gift you with the gift of exhortation. It will greatly bless those to whom you are ministering. This gift can also be used in conjunction with the gift of giving or mercy.
But it is important to remember that all of us are called to exhort one another. The apostle declared in Hebrews 3:13, “Exhort one another daily.” All of us need encouragement on a daily basis in this fallen and dark world. So, give that encouragement when it is needed. May God use you in helping others in their time of need.
* Giving. The fifth gift is giving. It is important to notice that Paul changes a little bit in how he describes these last three gifts in verse 8. He adds a little postscript to each of these three gifts, which gives you a little more insight into how to exercise these gifts. Paul says, “He who gives, with liberality.” The word liberality means to give with sincerity and generosity. Again, everyone is called to give if we are disciples of Christ. In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” First note the same phrase, “For with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” We looked at this warning in reference to hearing, but here it is used in reference to giving. It is clear then that the same way in which you give, is the same way that others, and God Himself, will give back to you. God gives back to you with an eternal reward, and also, He temporally gives back to you here in this world (Matt. 6:1; Mal. 3:10).
Giving is something all of us must do, but there are certain individuals who are supernaturally gifted in giving. They give of their time, talents and finances to help others in need. They have a compassion for other people that is beyond the natural. This gift enables a person to make someone else feel special and important as they serve and give to them. They would never make a person feel like they were a burden. However, there are some people who will help you, but they make you feel like it is a chore for them to serve you. Others can give and help you, and at the same time they make you feel incredibly loved and cared for. That is the gift of giving! This gift is especially important in ministries to the poor or to the homeless. Someone who works in a rescue mission would definitely need this gift. Any service ministry to others would also greatly benefit by possessing this gift of giving. To give generously is a very special quality that enhances this gift and reveals that this gift is in operation. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:9, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” Remember, you will always be the blessed one if you are a giver. God will always give back to you more than you could ever give away. God will never be your debtor, He will always outgive you!
* Leading. The sixth gift is leading. Paul says, “He who leads, with diligence.” The word leads refers to one placed in front to lead another, or one who is a protector or guardian. The gift of leading is one that is greatly needed by any pastor, board member, elder, deacon, or children’s ministry director. There are natural leaders and there are supernatural leaders. The gift of leading enables one to foresee needs and solutions before others see them. They will lead biblically and lovingly as Jesus would lead. The gift of leading enables a person to get out in front of issues and guide others in how things should be done in the church. If a person is a true leader who is gifted to lead, then they will lead. You don’t have to force them to lead. This is just who they are. God has anointed them to lead. If you are the owner of a business then you must lead, or you won’t be in business very long. Even so, if you are leading any ministry in the church, you need to be praying for God’s gifting and the ability to lead your ministry with diligence. The word diligence is a Greek word that means with eagerness, or haste, devoting yourself to fulfill your ministry. Eagerness reveals God’s calling upon the heart of a person. They have a willingness and desire to serve others. You will not sense a grudging attitude from this person. In 1 Peter 5:2-4, the Apostle Peter commanded the leaders of the church, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Peter is clearly encouraging those who lead to willingly serve with the right motives. He wanted leaders to shepherd which means to feed the people with the Word of God, because the people have been entrusted to the shepherd’s care. If you lead in the church of Jesus Christ, may you take this exhortation to heart. Your eternal reward will be determined by your obedience to your calling to feed God’s people and do it with a loving eagerness!
* Mercy. The last gift is the gift of mercy. He declared, “He who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The word mercy means to show compassion and to help one who is afflicted. The word cheerfulness means to be joyful as you show mercy. In 2 Cor. 9:7, Paul said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” In other words, you count it a joy to give and be merciful to others. Again, it is important to remember that all of us are called to be merciful and to show compassion to others (Luke 6:36). However, there are some in the Body of Christ who are supernaturally gifted in mercy. Those who work in rescue missions or with the homeless are again in great need of this gifting. However, the gift of mercy can also be exercised in conjunction with any of the other gifts we have discussed in this text of Scripture. When someone is counseling and encouraging another, possessing the gift of mercy would be of great benefit in this circumstance. Likewise, if someone teaching was to have the gift of mercy in the instruction of the Word, it would truly bless the hearers. It is essential that people who come to church to hear God’s Word proclaimed, also hear the heart of mercy that God has for them. He is a God who delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). Jesus had this gift of compassion and mercy that moved Him to leave the ninety-nine and go after the one lost sheep (Luke 15:4). That is why Jesus came to this earth, because He had the gift of mercy and compassion. Jesus had all the gifts! The gift of mercy is also needed if you have the gift of an apostle, which means one sent out to reach the lost, or an evangelist. To show mercy, and not do it grudgingly, is an essential part of this gift. To be cheerful and joyous as we minister in any capacity to others is truly a great gift. Do you know anyone who has walked away from the Lord? You should in compassion and mercy eagerly go after them. Pursue them with prayer, or by any means necessary. The cheerful loving hearts of those who reached out to me when I was lost is what led me to salvation!
So, what is your gift? These are just seven of the many gifts found in the Scripture. Which one is yours? If you know what your gift is, then the next question is, are you exercising and using that gift? Remember, you are members one of another. The body of Christ needs your gift in operation in the church today. Don’t miss the blessing!