March 28. Romans 12:6-8. Gifted (the life of Christ manifested on earth).

Romans 12:6-8. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 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.

Union with Christ brings with it the glorious paradox of our individuality and our interdependence within the Body of Christ. And one of the most glorious manifestations of this paradox is the spiritual gifts that Christ’s life has granted to us. Individually each of us has our own gifts which differ according to grace. Your gifting is unique and special. Also, each of us is to use our gifts for the good of the Body.

Here once again our superiority and inferiority are dealt with by the gracious gifting of the Spirit. All of your gifts are by the grace of God, so no superiority. You have been gifted by the grace of God for the good of the Church, so no inferiority.

These spiritual gifts are literally the gospel of Christ in us. They only work through the death of the selfish flesh and the resurrection of Christ’s love in our hearts. They are his character. His deeds. His life. To use our gifts is to take up the cross, to be a living sacrifice, to embrace resurrection power by faith and reject self-justification. When we exercise his gifts we manifest the death and life of Christ on earth today. The death of sin and the life of grace.

Selflessly working together for the salvation of the human race…sort of.

What are these gifts?

if prophecy, in proportion to our faith – Christ was God’s greatest prophet and God’s final word – he is God. Our declaration of the truth of Christ manifests the death and life of Christ on earth today.

if service, in our serving – Christ was our ultimate servant. He fed the hungry, washed the feet of the weary, and carried our cross. He met needs. Our humble and practical service is the death and life of Christ manifested on earth today.

the one who teaches, in his teaching – Christ taught us how to live and love. He taught us the way of salvation. We are his students (disciples) who teach others. When we teach others the truths of Christ’s grace and salvation, we manifest the death and life of Christ on earth today.
the one who exhorts, in his exhortation – Christ didn’t just tell, he encouraged. He came alongside us. He spoke to the heart. Exhortation (parakaleo) is now the work of the Spirit (the paraklete). When we encourage and guide others to God’s grace, we manifest the death and life of Christ on earth today.
the one who contributes, in generosity – Christ is the greatest giver of all time. He gave us himself and the world. When we give beyond what makes sense and do so with a focus on God’s kingdom, we manifest the death and life of Christ on earth today.
the one who leads, with zeal – Christ is our gentle and humble ruler. He is the Shepherd King of the universe. He rules by giving his life, not demanding ours. When we lead people into the way of the cross, we are manifesting the death and life of Christ on earth today.
the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness – Christ cheerfully went to the cross to pour God’s mercy out on us. His is the greatest act of mercy with cheerfulness of all time. I do not mean to take away from the agony of the cross, or the painful empathy we must also feel if we are to be full of mercy. But because we know that every act of mercy that we do manifests the death and life of Christ on earth, we too can do acts of mercy with great joy!

Do you remember Romans 12:1-2? By the mercies of God, we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. What does this look like practically? It looks like using your gift to serve the Body of Christ. To bring growth in grace through relational strength.

But what if I don’t know what my gift are?

Then just practice doing everything listed above anyway because everything Paul lists here as a gift is also spoken as a command for all Christians somewhere else in the New Testament. So you can’t go wrong.

“To live is Christ” is a way of life. It is the practical outworking of the gifts of Christ’s power and love in tangible ways. Giving, teaching, prophesying, leading, encouraging, helping. We don’t just have the truth; we live the truth. And this will set you free from the bondage to your own selfishness and pride. Do you believe this?

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