“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
(Romans 12:6-8 ESV)
Many of us have fallen into the wrong mindset when it comes to the church. We think and act as though the church is here only for our benefit. We choose a church based not on what we can give, but on what we can receive. If we perceive that a particular church cannot meet our felt needs, we go off in search of something better.
Of course there are certain things we should look for when it comes to a church. We should look for a church that preaches and teaches the Word of God. We should look for a church that does not deny the truth. We should look for a church that strives to carry out the call God has placed on us as his people.
However, we tend to shop for a church just as we shop for a new outfit. We search for a church that fits us perfectly. We search for a church that makes us feel comfortable. We look for a church that provides for us the services we desire.
If a church asks something of us, we cringe. If a church expects something of us, we resist. We want no obligations placed on us. We want only to sit in the pew on Sunday morning. We want only to participate in those programs that meet our perceived needs. We want only to receive, and not to give.
We fail to realize that God has given to us his grace so that we can serve. We fail to realize that God has given us his grace so we can minister to others. In fact, our gifts and abilities differ from those given to others. They complement those given to others. So we each have a specific role. And we are all called upon to use the gifts God has bestowed upon us.
We see this in the above passage. Paul tells us that, having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, we’re to use them. If we have the gift of prophecy, we’re to prophesy. If we have the gift of service, we’re to serve. If we have the gift of teaching, we’re to teach.
God doesn’t give us our gifts and abilities for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul tells us that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each of us for the common good. He gives to us his gifts for the good of the church.
This agrees also with the teaching of Jesus. He tells us in Luke 22 that the greatest must become like the youngest. He tells us that the one who leads must become like the one who serves. It’s not about lording our authority over others. It’s not about receiving service from others. It’s about laying down our life for the blessing of others.
Now, if everything is working properly, we will receive from the church. We’ll benefit from the gifts that God has given to others in the church. However, our motive must be, first and foremost, to serve.
So, as we consider our place in the church, we should look at how we can serve. We should consider how we might bless others. Maybe it’s helping to serve at a funeral meal or at one of our community meals. Maybe it’s teaching a Sunday School class. Maybe it’s serving on a committee in the church or helping with the youth group. The opportunities are endless. But let’s seek to use the grace God’s given us to bless others.