In this lesson, I want to begin by taking a quick look at the seven different things that Paul said that we should be using for the Lord as found in:
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;† 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;† 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.†
Prophesy was a miraculous gift and at the time Paul wrote this, there were still those that could prophecy, but the ability to prophecy was only temporary. When prophesying was still being used, it played its part in the growth of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.† 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.† 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
Paul deemed prophecy one the greater miraculous gifts because it was used for edification, exhortation, and comfort. While the gift of prophecy ended in the first century, the gift of preaching Godís Word did not and it continues to be a source of edification, exhortation, and comfort.
Ministry may not be what you think. It simply means to serve. This is one of those gifts that each Christian should strive for because serving God and serving others is a basic part of Christianity.
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.†
Certainly, some are much better at serving others, and they should continue to develop their skills, but as I said, all of us should be working on this talent. As Paul said in:
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.†
Teachers are also a must to help any church grow. A teacher can take Scripture and explain it in a way that is logical and easy to understand. It is not that a person cannot understand the Scriptures without a teacher, but a teacher makes it easier. Of course, not everyone can be a teacher of Godís truth because James says:
James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.††
With the talent of teaching comes this warning because when you teach it means that you are supposed to know what the Scriptures teach. If you teach amiss and lead people astray, then you will be judged for that. While teaching Godís Word in the church is limited to certain teachers, every Christian should be able to teach others about how to get saved and some of the basic principles of Christianity. We even teach people about righteousness by how we live our lives and conduct ourselves around others.†
So, letís not be afraid to try and grow our talents in this area and get to the point where we know the Scriptures well enough that we can teach them. One thing I love about being a teacher is that it causes me to dig deeper into Godís Word, and I love being able to teach others so that I can open their eyes to the Scriptures.
Paul adds this about teaching:
2 Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,† 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,† 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.†††
Part of teaching others involves being patient and not getting into useless arguments. Once again, we can see that it takes humility to effectively correct someone that is opposing Godís truth. Notice, this is for everyone because everyone is a servant of the Lord. The wonderful benefit of teaching someone the truth is when they listen to it and turn back to God, because you can know that you helped someone get right with God.
We have the gift of exhortation, which means that a person can encourage, motivate, comfort, and warn people. For example, Barnabas was given his new name because he was a great exhorter. His new name meant son of encouragement (Acts 4:36).† We defiantly need exhorters in the church today. While all of us should work on getting better at this talent, others have been blessed in this area and have the ability say the right words at the right time.
Exhorters are greatly needed in the church today, whether the exhortation is given to the lost, those who are sick, or those who are in sorrow.† The ability to use certain words at the right time is always important.† Solomon said:
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.†††††††††††††
Paul also mentions the gift of giving and that is to be done with liberality. Liberality means sincerely, not self-seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity (Thayer). Again, everyone is to give of their means, but God has blessed some more than other with the ability to be able to give more. When Christians donít give, the church suffers because it takes money to spread Godís Word and to be able to help those in need. Paul gives this charge to the rich:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.† 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,† 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.†
Paul talks about the gift of leadership and says that those who lead must to do so with diligence, which means they will eagerly seek to lead. Not everyone can be a leader, but this is another gift that we need in the church. We need men that are willing to step up and be a great example for everyone else to follow. This would certainly include men that lead the congregation as elders. The Bible shows on several occasions what happens when no leadership is in place, and it always ends in disaster. So, those who are blessed to be leaders in the church need to use their talents.
Finally, the seventh gift Paul mentions is the gift of mercy, and he says we are to give it with cheerfulness. This is a person that is good at forgiving another and who is full of compassion and shows great kindness to others. Again, this another one of those gifts that we should all work on, but some Christians seem to be naturals at this. Being merciful is definitely needed in the church.
Paul has just mentioned seven out of many gifts that people may be blessed with. Though the gift of prophecy was limited to the first century, the whole idea is that we must use whatever gift we have been blessed with from God to glorify Him and to help build up His church and His people.
The question becomes, are you using your talents that God has blessed you with for the cause of Christ, or are you allowing your talents to go to waste?
I hope if you have been holding back on what God has blessed you with that you will start using it for the glory of God.
Letís move on to our next section of Scriptures.
Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.† 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;† 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;† 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;† 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
The first observation you can make from this section of Scripture is that is a close parallel to the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It speaks of the proper attitude we are to have about ourselves, others, and our service to God. Letís take a closer look at these.
Let love be without hypocrisy.
We cannot be the kind of person that has a superficial type of love in that we tell people we love them, but we donít really mean it. The idea of hypocrisy is play acting or pretending to be someone you are not. As Christians, our love must be genuine. As John says:
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
As Paul teaches:
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.† 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.† 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.†
If we are not motivated by our love for God and our love for others, then no matter how many good deeds we do, no matter how well we follow the commands of God, it is nothing and will serve no purpose. Itís like trying to win a car race with using water as your fuel; you are not ever going to cross the finish line. We cannot replace a genuine love with anything else and make it into heaven. So, letís always do our best to be motivated by a genuine love and not a pretend one.
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Here we have a great contrast between our attitude toward evil and good. The word ĎAbhorí means to have ďa vehement dislike for something, to hate strongly, to have a horror ofĒ (BDAG, Thayer). Paul is teaching us to hate evil and despise it because when evil triumphs, it means that more people have lost their way. This thought of hating evil was also taught in the O.T. as well:
Psalm 97:10 You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
One cannot love the Lord and love the evil way. No, we must hate evil because God hates evil. If we become a student of Godís Word, we will have no problem understand what evil is and how ugly it is. We must have the same attitude as David who said:
Psalm 101:3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.† 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.
Hating evil does not mean that we hate the person that is doing the evil, we simply hate the sin he is involved in. When we can develop such a disgust of sin, it makes it less appealing and will cause us to stay away from it, and it will make it easier for us to want to cling to what is good.
The word Ďclingí means ďto glue, to glue together, cementĒ (Thayer). Like our shadows are glued to us, we must be glued to the truth. We must stand firm in Godís truth and goodness so that the evil way cannot pull us away. Paul summed it up this way:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
When we bind ourselves to the way of righteousness, it will be easy to do what Paul says next:
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,
The word Ďaffectionateí is a word used to describe the love that a parent has for his child. When we become Christians, we become part of a family. We are to have this same kind of affection that we have for our blood kin as we do for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are to honor them, which means to show reverence or respect to them, and we are to prefer one another just as we would one of our own blood kin. That is how close we are to be and the kind of love we are to have each for others. When we love each other like this, it shows the world that we are disciples of Christ as John writes:
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.† 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Next, Paul said:
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord
When we love God and are motivated by that love, then we are not going to be lagging in diligence, which carries the idea of not being a lazy Christian. In fact, laziness should not be part of any Christianís life. We are to be fervent, which means to boil with heat, be hot. In other words, we are to be on fire for the Lord, which is just the opposite of being lazy. We should be eager to serve the Lord for all that He has done for us. As Paul said:
Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,† 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Next Paul says:
12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;†
Every Christian should rejoice in the hope that God has made possible for us. When we think about how God is involved in our lives, how much He loves us, and how we have the hope of living in heaven for eternity, it should be easy for us to rejoice. Knowing what we have to look forward to will make it easier for us to be patient even when we are under great tribulation.
Those in the first century were able to keep their heads high even though they were being imprisoned and many times put to death because of their hope in God. None of us will probably ever have to suffer that kind of tribulation. If these first century Christians could handle their tribulations, it shows us that we can handle our minor tribulations we might suffer today.
Whether severe or light, tribulation will come our way. One thing that will help us through our trying times is continuing steadfastly in prayer. It is very comforting to know that we can pray to God and that He is listening and answering our prayers. While prayer is a great tool for dealing with tribulation, it is not the only time we are to use prayer because we are to continue to pray in the good times and the bad times. As Paul told the Ephesians:
Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;† 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --
†Every Christian should cherish the wonderful avenue of prayer and not take it for granted. Pray every day. Donít waste an opportunity to speak to God.
Next Paul says:
13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Again, this speaks of the care that we have for one another just as we would for blood kin. When our child needs help, we give it to him. When our mother or father needs help, we give it to them. In a similar way, when our brother or sister in Christ needs help, we give it to them. This was the attitude that the first century Christians had as we read in:
Acts 4:34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,† 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
We are also told to be hospitable, which literally means to pursue the opportunity to host or serve others. This is not as common today as it was back then because people can stay in hotels and other places, but we should not shy away from being hospitable to others, and we certainly should not shy away from serving others.
Now, letís take a look at the remainder of our chapter.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.† 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.† 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.† 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.† 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.† 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.† 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."† 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Much of this has to do with how we treat others who treat us poorly.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.†
This is where Christianity can become very difficult because when someone gets in your face and starts cursing at you and yelling at you, it almost seems natural to give it right back to them, but Godís Word says just the opposite. Instead of matching the sinfulness of the person in our faces, we are to bless them, that is to talk well of them. Peter teaches us the same thing in:
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;† 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Jesus tells us we should pray for them (Mt. 5:44) and even do good to them (Lk. 6:27). It is not an easy thing to do, but that is to be our approach to those who oppose us.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.†
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul links this idea of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep with Christians. Some suggest that this also includes those of the world in our text, but if we link this with the statement of being of the same mind in verse 16, it would also be limiting it to our fellow Christians because we are not to be of the same mind of the world.
Even if our text is saying to rejoice and weep with those of the world, it would not mean that we rejoice when they excel in evil or weep with them when them fail at doing something evil, it would simply mean that we rejoice when something good happens to them such as them having a baby and weeping with them when they lose a loved one.
Mainly, I believe this is talking about how we are to have compassion for each other and be concerned about others just as we would for own blood kin.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
When we view each other equally and realize that we are the same in Godís eyes, it will help us to view each other with the right attitude. When we use the Word of God as our source for living our lives, then we can be of the same mind and have the same goals.
Once again, Paul is emphasizing the importance of training our minds to be humble and not setting them on high things. He also understands the importance of the company that we keep.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."†
Knowing that hanging around worldly and haughty people can corrupt us, no wonder he tells us to associate ourselves with the humble because that is the example we need to follow. That is the kind of influence that we need. When we train ourselves to be humble and hang around those who are humble, then avoiding being wise in our own opinion will not be much of problem for us.
Sometimes, being wise in our own opinion is hard for some because they feel like what they think is more important than what other people think, and if they donít get their way, then they will walk away. There is no compromise with them because they feel that if things are not done their way, then it will not work. Paul says:
Galatians 6:3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
While there is nothing wrong with having an opinion, we must not be the kind of people that think our opinions are the only ones that matter.
Finally, Paul says:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.† 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.† 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.† 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."† 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is easier said than done. It is very tempting to do to others as they do to us, but as Christians, we are to do everything in our power to keep the peace and not to return evil for evil. This is not teaching that we cannot defend ourselves, but our first goal is to resolve all conflicts peaceably, and we are to strive to combat evil with good.
Doing good to your enemy can strike a blow that is more effective than forceful revenge because it will strike them at the heart. For example, notice Saulís reaction when he found out that David could have taken his life, but didnít.
1 Samuel 24:16 So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.† 17 Then he said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil.† 18 "And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the LORD delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me.† 19 "For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.
So, do your best to conquer evil with good. As Paul said in:
1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.† 16 Rejoice always,† 17 pray without ceasing,† 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In verse 20, Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22. We donít know for sure exactly where the idea came from about heaping coals of fire on your enemyís head, but the explanation, I like the best is that when they would defend their walls of a city, they would drop rocks, fiery coals, etc on their heads. Paul is just using this term metaphorically of how effective showing kindness to your enemies can be as mentioned earlier.†
In conclusion, we can see why this great chapter is sometimes called the Little Bible or the Christianís Manuel because it teaches a great deal about living the life of a Christian. As we have learned, Christianity requires a full commitment, and we cannot be lazy in the pursuit of righteousness. We must train our minds daily with the Word of God so that we can continue transform ourselves into being more Christ-like so that we can encourage and lead others to be faithful as well. We must work together for the unity of the faith with a humble spirit. We are even called to treat our enemies with kindness, and we are to pray to them.
None of these things we have studied in this chapter are optional; we must continue to grow stronger in the faith and put our trust in God and His Word as we continue to add all these qualities mentioned in Romans 12 to our lives.