Sunday, March 2, 2014

Romans 12 and Spiritual Gifts



Years ago Darling and I went to a seminar and one of the speakers talked about an old woman he met that was so nice he had to ask her secret. She said when she was a young girl she memorized Romans 12 and lived by it. That impressed me so much I came home and asked my two youngest to memorize the chapter

They memorized it a lot faster than I did (and I still stutter over parts of it). Here is the entire text (in NAS, since that’s the version I prefer, though I know people disagree with me on that topic).

Romans 12 (New American Standard)
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Over the years I have occasionally quoted part of the second verse: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It still amazes me (though it shouldn’t) how often I have to remind myself that not all thoughts are my own, nor do I want to own them. So I can compare what I think to what the Lord Jesus would want me to think and “renew my mind” – think something else. It’s a training thing, but it sure comes in handy. I still fail often, but you just have to keep trying, don’t you?

But this is about spiritual gifts.

In today’s sermon Pastor D talked about spiritual gifts and pointed at Romans 12 as one of the four times in the New Testament where the spiritual gifts are actually listed. (The other three times are: 1 COR 12, EPH 4, and 1 PET 4.) Here’s where it gets interesting.

The first spiritual gift is followed by the phrase “according to the proportion of his faith” which can, according to Pastor D, actually be added to each of the gifts. He mentioned the type of language used in the original Greek and how it implied that it should be part of each of the following items in the list. Since my Greek is non-existent, I’ll just accept that at face value.

Now the cool part (well, I think so). Not only are the gifts mentioned, but Romans 12 also defines the characteristics of each gift. Watch. I’ll take the text in order, each gift, then the description, given in order, from the sentences that follow the list. (I tried to put color in the quotation as a guide.)

Prophecy: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good

Serving: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor

Teaching: not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord

Exhortation (which, Pastor D said, is the word for Encouragement): rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer

Giving (with liberality): contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality

Leading (with diligence): Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Okay, Pastor D had to explain this one. Since most leaders have visions of how things could be, they make changes. That means they often deal with much persecution to bring the vision to fruition.

Mercy (with cheerfulness): Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep

I still love the rest of Romans 12, and have many times used “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” It isn’t always possible, but we have to make that effort, at least from our side of a poor situation.

Now that I think of it, the speaker might have said the old woman memorized Romans 8 instead of Romans 12. Whoops.

2 comments:

  1. Amen! definitely words to live by, or try very hard to. So often we forget how blessed we are and are stingy with sharing the talents God has given us...funny you wrote this now, I was contemplating all last week how I was feeling sorry for myself too much and had to get "out" of myself and "out" there! Thanks for your posts, keeps me connected. love ml

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  2. You're always very sweet to me, Mary. I really miss you. Still playing guitar? ;)
    Thanks for being such a consistent and kind reader. I thought about not writing the blog any more, but then something like this gnaws at my brain and this is the best outlet.
    So thanks for being there. You're terrific!
    -v

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