We have different gifts based on the grace that was given to us. So if your gift is prophecy, use your gift in proportion to your faith. If your gift is serving, devote yourself to serving others. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching others. If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others. If it is sharing, share generously. If it is leading, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping, help cheerfully. (Rom 12:4-8)
Did you notice there are two groups of gifts in this section? There are two different structures in this list.
Prophecy, ministry, teaching and exhortation or encouragement all have the pattern “If ministry, in the ministry [or the ministering].”
Giving, leading and showing mercy all have the pattern “the one giving, in [a quality of excellence] like generosity, diligence or cheerfulness.” The overall sense with respect to each gift is the level of excellence we seek to achieve in exercising that gift. Hence the translations focusing on devoting yourself to practising whatever gift is in focus. But there is another sense as well.
In your exercising your gift of prophecy yes, give it all you have got, the best of your devotion. But exercise your prophetic gift by prophesying, focus on the gift. Don’t attempt to get into other gifts. Just prophecy and do it with all the faith you have been given. When you minister, just minister, don’t mix the gift with other gifts. If teaching just focus on teaching. Don’t be swayed or envious of someone else’s gifts and try to emulate them. Just teach. Relax and be yourself. Accept the gift the Holy Spirit has apportioned to you and use it to the fullest extent you can.
Then as I have noted above, the remaining gifts (giving, leading and mercy) have a different pattern. That is because Paul is including these gifts in the list but they are not normally included in lists of gifts. Oh they are gifts but not of the same kind. More about that in a following Gem. There are two different kinds of gifts here and Paul treats them differently. They are not normally included especially in the manifestation gifts found in the list in 1 Corinthians 12, neither are they in the general lists of gifts e.g. Ephesians. Giving, taking the lead and showing mercy are not gifts in the strict sense of the term but Paul none the less includes them. I think he is encouraging the Roman Christians to be open minded in the way they minister the gifts but it is hard to tell. This passage is controversial for that reason.
Don’t let it go too soon. Think some more about it. Maybe God will reveal something to you that you can later on share with me. It is like that with Scripture. No one has the last word on it, not even the writer of it (Paul, Peter, John etc). I am always learning more. Keep grappling with the concepts.
In the next Gem we will start looking at the specific gifts listed in this passage to understand more about them.
A lack of time is really a lack of priority. We always find time for the things we love. Make today count.Paul de Jong
Want to worry less? Then pray more. Rather than look forward in fear, look upward in faith.Max Lucado