Difference of gifts - extract from foundation module: Gospel Community
Here is a short extract from our Gospel Community module for you to enjoy.
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‘For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.’ Romans 12v 4-6a
Paul says the church is like a human body (see also 1 Corinthians 12). Each part has a different function. This means:
We need each other. One person’s contribution will differ from that of other people, but each contribution matters;
We need everyone. The gifts of another are not better, just different. Paul says we have different gifts ‘according to the grace given us’. Abilities are not achievements to be proud of; they are God’s gifts to be thankful for.
Our differences make us stronger and more effective. Look at verses 6-8: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
There are two warnings implicit in this list:
1) Don’t complain that others are not doing what you do
‘I wish we had more people giving words of prophecy like me.’
‘I wish more people volunteered to serve like me.’
‘I wish people would contribute more in Bible studies like me.’
‘I wish people made more effort to be encouraging like I do.’
‘I wish people gave more money like me.’
‘I wish people would take more of a lead like me.’
‘I wish people were more involved in social action like I am.’
People can be self-centred without being selfish. They can be very generous and give themselves in ministry, but only see their ministry and only notice what they do. But there is a glorious diversity both in those who comprise our gospel communities and in the activities pursued by our gospel communities. This diversity is a beautiful and good thing, which we must protect and nurture because it is a wonderful expression of grace.
2) Don’t complain that you can’t do what others can do
Not many people go around wishing they could serve more, but many people waste a lot of time and emotional energy on wanting to be a preacher or a leader. But because we are members of one body, such ambitions are foolish.
Verse 6 says we have different gifts “according to the grace given to us”, not “according to the grace given to each of us”. These gifts are given to us together as a body. My gifts are graciously given to us, for us, just as your gifts are given to us, for us. If there is a gifted Bible teacher in your gospel community, their preaching gift is your preaching gift. It is given by God for the sake of the body, which means it is God’s good gift to you. It is not given so the preacher can boast in his preaching. It is given to serve you. In the same way, the gift of leadership in your gospel community is for your benefit. You personally do not need to be able to exercise that gift because you already have it – in them.
What is the responsibility of each and every member of a gospel community? To get on with serving in the church with generosity, diligence and cheerfulness.
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