Romans 12:6-8

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 12:6
  • Romans 12:7
  • Romans 12:8

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

In Chapter 12, Paul shows that a life of righteousness or justice (living in harmony with God’s design) looks like a life that has been transformed spiritually. It looks like team harmony, like a human body, where every body part is doing what it does best as directed by the head (and a believer’s Head is Jesus.) In order to function like a body, it requires an active decision to love and honor others, while honoring Jesus as the One in charge. As the One in charge, it’s Jesus’ job to judge the world (not ours.)

Paul turns from defending against the slanderous attacks of competing Jewish “authorities” and begins an admonition to the world famous believers in Rome (1:8) concerning their pursuit of righteousness. Paul has comprehensively demonstrated that righteousness, which is harmony with God’s design, comes only through walking by faith in the resurrection power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He has also proven that his gospel message is “good news” about three deliverances: 1) being delivered from the penalty of sin, irrevocably placing us into the family of God when we first believe 2) being delivered from the presence of sin when we are taken to heaven to be with Jesus, and 3) being delivered from the power of sin in our daily walk, when we choose to walk by faith in the power of the indwelling Spirit.

Since most of our lives are spent between the time we first believed and the time we leave this earth, Paul has and will continue to emphasize the practical impact of the gospel on how we live daily. Paul has made it crystal clear why we ought to choose to walk in faith by the Spirit and enjoy the newness of life in the resurrection power of Jesus, rather than going back into the death and slavery of sin by following our sin nature. We want to walk in obedience because of the immense positive consequence from walking by faith (believing God’s way is true and best), versus the terrible consequences we get when we walk in sin (believing we know best). Paul has also clearly shown us how to walk in the resurrection power of Jesus, through the exercise of a heart of faith. Now Paul will give us some tangible illustrations of what righteousness looks like in everyday life.

The body of believers can only work in full harmony if each member is using their gift to serve one another. These gifts are given to us by the grace of God for His purpose.

God has gifted us all in different ways, we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, we are each unique in our abilities. Here, Paul is talking about our spiritual gifting; these are abilities God has given us to serve other believers (the Church) sacrificially (v. 1) and each of us is to exercise them accordingly. Paul goes through a short list of different gifts, if we have the gift of prophecy (truth-telling, preaching) we should use that gift according to the proportion of faith, and if service, in his serving, and if teaching, in his teaching, if exhorts (encouraging) in his exhortation, he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. We should use our personal gifting to serve one another. To use Paul’s analogy of a body, if we are a foot we should not attempt to be an eye – we must have humility to know what God has given us and how we ought to use it.

For many of us, it is difficult to “see with reality” (i.e. humbly) what our gifts are. We tend to depreciate what comes easy for us, thinking “that is so easy, anyone can do that.” The reality is, however, that what is easy for us is often very difficult for others. Something that comes easily to us is often because we are gifted in that arena. It is our job to reach a level of self-awareness regarding our gifts, so we can employ them effectively in service to others, so we become a living sacrifice in our daily lives.

Each person’s gifts interact to create a healthy and harmonious body. We need prophets to sort out what is true and guide us to make wise choices, teachers to teach us God’s word so we can renew our minds, people to encourage us throughout our life so we can persevere, generous members to help provide for the needs of others, leaders who are hard-working and diligent, and merciful people to show and give mercy cheerfully. This partial list of different members and different gifts demonstrates how living harmoniously with each other is built upon using what God has given us for the benefit of each other, sacrificially and humbly.

This listing of gifts is not intended to be limiting, but instructional. The main point is to “discover how God has empowered you and use those gifts diligently and enthusiastically.”

Biblical Text

6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

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