Romans Chapter 12


Gifts differing according to grace.


Verses 6-8   "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness."

Previously Paul taught us that each member of the church is a member of the body of Christ. Also, each member is an individual with different qualities and functions in the body, but all are to work together for the good of the body and to work in harmony. Now Paul tells us that we all have different gifts as members of the body of Christ.

The gifts we have are by the grace of God. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 12:11: "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." The Spirit gives us our spiritual gifts and we each have more than one gift that the Spirit has given us. We did not earn these gifts. They were freely given to us by the grace of God. Since we did not earn them, there is no need for us to be jealous of other people's gifts.

The Lord gave us a parable concerning talents that teaches us that it is not the value of the gift that is important, but what we do with what we are given that is important:

Matt. 25:14 "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."

The ones who had the five and the two talents received the same reward for their faithful use of the talents they were given. The one who had the one talent would have had the same reward if he had faithfully used the talent he was given. Instead, he lost the talent he was given and was chastened for failing to use his talent.

There were seven gifts that are listed in the above subject verse. The first talent was the gift of prophecy. Having the gift of prophecy is not the same as being a prophet. Certainly, the prophet has the gift of prophecy. However, others who are not prophets also have the gift of prophecy. The word prophecy comes from the Greek word meaning to predict the future. The prophets were given the revealed word of God and also were given prophecies of future events. In the church there are individuals who have wisdom to analyze the circumstances of a problem or events and make valid predictions of what will happen if the actions or events are not changed. This is having the gift of prophecy. This is valuable to the whole body as we each are often faced with problems or faced with circumstances that need to be changed in our lives and these people can help us by showing us what will happen if we make the needed changes and what will happen if we do not make the needed changes.

The second gift is the gift of ministry. Most of the members of the church will have the gift of ministering to the needs of others. Certainly, we all are familiar with the gospel ministry. The gift of the gospel ministry is limited, however, to a very few of the membership of the church. But there are many examples given to us in the church where both men and women in the church had the gift of ministering to the needs of others. A couple examples are listed below:

1. Acts 9:36 "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive."

2. Rom. 16:1 "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles."

In the above examples, Tabitha, Phebe, Priscilla, and Aquila all had the gift of ministry and were ministering to the needs of others. None of the above, however, were gospel ministers or preachers. The admonition that Paul told those who had the gift of ministry was that we should wait upon our ministering. Having a gift and using it are two different matters. We should be using and exhorting others to use their gifts to the honor and glory of God and to the benefit of the Lord's people.

The third gift is the gift of teaching. The gospel ministry has the gift of teaching as that is one of the qualifications of a bishop or elder. However, others in the church also have the gift of teaching as well. Their teaching is not a public teaching of the word, but rather a private teaching of others. Some examples of the use of this gift are given below:

1. Acts 18:24 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."

2. Tit. 2:3 "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

Aquila and Priscilla privately taught Apollos the way of the Lord more perfectly. The aged women in the congregation are to teach the younger women several things as listed above. Thus, the aged teach from their own experience and broad knowledge that they have gained to the benefit of those who have not had the experience and knowledge due to their young age. These aged women are sometimes called mothers in the church. While they may not be the younger women's actual mothers, yet they serve to give advice and counsel to the younger women as spiritual leaders in the church much as a mother would do to their children.

Likewise, we have men who have been in the church for some time who often teach the younger men giving them advice and counsel in spiritual matters and matters concerning the church.

The fourth gift is that of exhortation. Again the gospel preacher is to exhort the congregation. However, there are others in the congregation as well who have the gift of exhortation. Often we observe that deacons usually have the gift of exhortation. The word, exhortation, is defined as follows: "parakaleo, par-ak-al-eh'-o; from G3844 and G2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):--beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray." Often times we know of things that we should do or that we should not do. A big problem that each of us is faced with is finding the courage to either do the things we should or not do the things we should not do. Exhortations from others helps us to find the courage to do what is right and not do what is wrong. There are many applications where exhortation is a very valuable gift to the church. Those who have the gift of exhortation should be using that gift to the honor and glory of God and to the benefit of the members of the church.

The fifth gift is the gift of giving. Most of the congregation will have the gift of giving. The scriptures teach us that we are to give to the needs of others:

1. James 1:27 'Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

2. Mat 5:42 "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."

3. Rom 12:20 "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."

4. 2 Cor 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

5. Eph 4:28 "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."


6. James 2:15 "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"

7. 1 Tim. 6:17 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

Giving is to be done in simplicity. Simplicity is defined as follows: "572. haplotes, hap-lot'-ace; from G573; singleness, i.e. (subj.) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (obj.) generosity (copious bestowal):--bountifulness, liberal (-ity), simplicity, singleness." Thus giving is to be done in singleness of heart. It is to be the sincere desire of the heart. We are to give generously or bountifully. We are not to seek praise for ourselves in giving, but to give praise and honor and glory to God for his bountiful hand upon us.

The sixth gift is ruling. The word rule is defined as follows: "4291. proistemi, pro-is'-tay-mee; from G4253 and G2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by impl.) to practise:--maintain, be over, rule." The elders are to rule well. That is they are to lead the congregation by example and precept. Likewise, the deacons of the church are to lead in the serving of the tables of the church. Deacons should have the gift of ruling. The gift of ruling, however, is not limited to the elders and deacons of the church. Others may also lead in the activities of the church. Often I see sisters who will organize and lead the other sisters in preparing for the meals that are sometimes served in the general gatherings of the congregation. Likewise, to relieve the needs and sufferings of others, members of the congregation will sometimes organize and lead in this activity.

Phebe was an example of a sister that was a ruler or leader: Rom. 16:1 "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also."

The seventh gift is that of showing mercy. There are two general words and two meanings of the word mercy. There is God's mercy that he bestows upon us judicially when he forgives us of our sin. Next, there is the definition of the word mercy that means compassion. This is the definition used in this seventh gift given to the church. It is showing compassion to others. When we visit the sick and the afflicted in hospitals, homes, and in nursing facilities and encourage and pray for them, we are showing mercy unto them. Sometimes there are members of the congregation who seem to have a special ability to encourage the sick, feeble, afflicted, distressed, persecuted, downtrodden. This is the gift of mercy. There is both natural sickness and there is spiritual sickness. Visiting the sick and encouraging them is a gift of showing mercy. Those who have this gift are to do it with cheerfulness and not out of a sense of duty and as something I have to do, but would rather be doing something else.

All seven of the above listed spiritual gifts are a great blessing from God that he by his grace has given to the membership of the church and is for our benefit as well as to praise, honor, and glorify his great and holy name.