In Romans 12, Paul provides some much-needed practical Christian teachings. The entire chapter can be divided in divided into three segments: a) Being a living sacrifice to God (v 1-2), b) Being of service in the body of Christ (v 3-8), c) How to actively love people without hypocrisy (v 9-21). Last week, we talked about the first segment, today we are going to focus on “Being of service in the body of Christ.”
In the church today, we often talk about our service to God as our form of corporate worship on Sunday morning. We say things like, “I am going to service,” “How was Sunday morning Service.” To serve God is more than just Sunday morning corporate worship at the building. We also serve God in the way we serve one another as an interdependent community. In verse 3, Paul points out the first requirement to serve God and the body of Christ is humility. Paul says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should, but rather with sober judgment.” The apostle was addressing the people in the Church who considered themselves better than others because of their wealth or power, because of their talent or education… those who probably feel superior to other members in the Church because they have been Christians longer, or they have a greater knowledge of the Bible… (David Roper, Commentary on Romans). It is important for disciples of Christ to be humble and adapt a Christ-like approach in their service to one another. Jesus himself was able to serve us because he emptied himself and “Made Himself of no reputation by taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). He made Himself of “no reputation” when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). We cannot properly serve one another if we do not value our fellow believers above ourselves and fail to look out for their interests (Phil 2: 3-4). Paul wants us to highly regard the collective interest of the Church body and focus less on self, and that requires humility.
We are individual members of the same Church body, and each one of us has a talent/gift that we can use to serve one another. In the following verses (6-8), Paul points out a few gifts the Church in Rome could use to serve one another: prophecy, serving, giving, teaching, leading. Beside humility, I think it is important to determine and develop your spiritual gift(s) to serve one another in the Church body. In verse 6, Paul says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” So, what is your spiritual gift(s) and how are you using it to serve God and the Church body. Whatever your gifts are, you have a responsibility effectively use them to minister to the Church body in order to glorify God (1 Peter 4:11). Peter said in his epistle, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Now, it is important not to think of spiritual gifts only as some supernatural/divine ability to do specific things in the Church body. Paul clearly pointed out some very practical and yet important things we can do to serve one another. Do you have the gift of teaching? Then you need to do it diligently. Do you have the gift of giving? So, give generously. Do you have the gift of encouraging others? You should do so with all your heart. Do you have the gift of hospitality? Then, be hospitable without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Maybe you have the gift of visiting others, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry at the soup kitchen, and so on. Do not ever limit what it is God can do in you and through you, because each one of us has a unique gift that can benefit the Church body.
To determine and develop our spiritual gifts, I think it is important to focus on the desires that God places in our heart, which He can confirm through other faithful believers around us. In Phil 2: 13, Paul says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God can also use our professional skills/abilities coupled with our life experiences to develop our spiritual gifts and serve one another. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul was writing about an unfortunate event he experienced in his life, and he believed that God brought him out of it so that he can use that experience to minister to others (2 Cor 1: 3-6). Whatever your spiritual gifts are, let us use them to serve God and the Church body.
God bless you,