Summary: Paul explains the gift of SERVICE in Romans 12:7.
The Wide Spectrum
We have been reading Paul’s mail as he wrote it to the Local Church at Rome, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God: Romans 12:6-8: “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 ; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching ; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
This part of God’s Letter through Paul comes under the heading of “Responsible Christian Living”, but not before 11 chapters tell us of man’s sinful and lost condition and of Jesus as the only perfect solution as Savior. To bring you up to date, In chapter 12 we’ve looked at, well, four commands for God’s people:
1. Consider God’s Mercies in saving you by faith in Christ’s work.
2. Present yourself to God as a logical and spiritual response of Gratitude.
3. Evaluate God’s spiritual gifts (charismata) to you.
4. Exercise them for His Glory and purpose. (Do it, for the Giver of Grace and the giver of your gifts, secondly for the edification of the local body of Christ, and as a witness to the unsaved world.) Last week we looked at the gift of Prophesy and today we look at the Wide Spectrum of the Gift of Service from Romans 12:7: “If service, in his serving.”
I want to tell a little story that the Springfield Oregon Public School ran some years ago that demonstrates God's gifts to the Church:
"Once upon a time the ANIMALS decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the New World, so they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be badly worn so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable so nobody worried about that except the duck.
"The rabbit started at the top of his class in running but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing but he encountered constant frustration in flying class. The reason was, his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed charley-horses from overexertion and only got a "c" in climbing and a "d" in running.”
"The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there."
The moral of the story is clear: We ALL have God-given gifts within the Church, (not the classroom). We have God-given spiritual abilities, strengths and weaknesses. If we go outside of our calling and equipping which is given by God’s measure and design, we are going to become frustrated, disappointed, and actually HURT the body of Christ, instead of helping it to be strong and healthy.
The Wide Spectrum of the Gift of Service (Diakoneo)
I was trying to figure out WHY the gift of “SERVICE” is plugged in between “PROPHECY” and “TEACHING and EXHORTATION,” and it finally dawned on me: It ties in perfectly with the REASON and purpose for “SERVICE GIFTS” in the first place, found in Acts 6:1-4:
“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving (Diakonia) of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (Diakoneo) tables. 3 "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry (Diakonia) of the word."
The disciples were having difficulty in carrying out their calling to the ministry of the WORD of God, and so deacons (Diakonos) were appointed to help the widows and the poor: VERY SIMPLY, SOME were appointed to “wait on tables” (diakoneo) since the disciples AT THAT TIME couldn’t do every single thing that was involved in the ministry of the Church Body: it’s the same way today. Those who have been called and gifted to prophesy, teach, and exhort cannot possibly execute their callings without the SUPPORTIVE gifts of serving. It is impossible. The gift of serving is the glue that holds the Church together.