Friday, December 15, 2006

Opening Your Spiritual Gifts (Day 13)

The New Testament book of Romans is the most mature and thorough confession of faith written by the apostle Paul. This letter was addressed to the first-century church in Rome. Paul wanted to introduce himself before visiting them. He planned to spend time serving and teaching them while gathering an offering to support his next big outreach, to Spain.

Romans begins with the basics of Christian faith, how the human condition of sin means all of us are born alienated from God, how that condition leads us to commit particular sins, and how God, unwilling to give up on us, made it possible for all of us to have our relationship with Him restored by turning from sin and believing in Jesus Christ. Paul then addresses how Christian believers are to live the new life Jesus gives to us.

At the beginning of Romans 12, Paul writes: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”

Three things should be noticed here. First: We’re to worship God with our whole lives. True worship is a 24/7 activity involving the surrender of our bodies and spirits and the renewal of our minds. Second: Whatever your family of origin, the moment you come to believe in Jesus Christ, you’re part of the one family of God and within it, you have your very own God-designed role to play. Your family is the Church. In it, God blesses you. Through it, you can be a blessing to others. Finally: To help you play your role, God gives you spiritual gifts.

The seven gifts Paul mentions here are ones we’ll look at over the next few days: prophecy, ministry (or service), teaching, encouragement (or exhortation), giving, leadership, and compassion.

Bible Passage to Ponder: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God...” (Romans 12:2)

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