Summary: Every believer is meant to function as a part of the body according to the spiritual gifts they have received.
We’re finishing up our 4 weeks on discovering your spiritual gifts. As we’ve learned in 1 Cor 12, every person who submits their life to Christ is a member of the Body of Christ – and we all have an important part to play. So important, in fact, that God gifts EACH ONE with gifts from the Holy Spirit to empower them for their work for the Kingdom. We spent the last week introducing 15 of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture, and will close with 4 more today from Romans 12:3-8.
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
As you see from this passage once again, the point of being a part of the body and receiving spiritual gifts for ministry is to get involved and ACT as a part of the body! Let’s take a look at the four gifts mentioned here that we haven’t already covered in the last 2 weeks.
16. Encouraging (Exhortation)
From gk. “parakaleo”, lit. “to call alongside”
The ability to speak words of comfort, encouragement, and counsel to other members of the Body in such a way that they feel helped and strengthened.
Those with the gift of encouraging find special joy in helping others with their spoken or written words. My Dad has this spiritual gift and has used it for many years in my life and in the lives of so many people. Because of this he has developed the art of writing notes when he thinks of people and letting them know the positive things he sees happening in their lives.
All of us are called to keep meeting together and to encourage each other – but some people are just specially gifted to bring encouragement to others.
One important note is that the other side of encouragement is that word “exhort” which generally has a harder edge to it. We see this at work in the life of John the Baptist in Luke 3
Luke 3:16-18 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
As we see here, sometimes the gift of encouragement is applied by challenging people to stand up for Christ and give Him first place without compromising.
But whether it is a strong challenge that needs to be spoken, or a gentle encouragement to keep going when feeling down – we need the gift of encouragement to be at work all over our church. Every small group needs at least one person who exercises this gift to help the group members throughout the week (when the group is not together).
The ability to contribute material resources to meet the needs of others with extra liberality and cheerfulness.
The gift of giving is another gift that can by confused with a spiritual discipline. Just like evangelism is everyone’s responsibility but some are gifted above and beyond the norm, so it is with giving. All of us are commanded to give generously, regularly, and sacrificially of our material resources to further the work of the Church, but there are some people who find incredible JOY in giving and love to go beyond the norm.
Sometimes the gift of giving is seen at work in an entire congregation of people, as was the case in the Macedonian churches Paul describes in 2 Cor. 8:
2Cor. 8:1-5 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.