For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 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; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:3-8.
As a Christian is transformed in his mind and is made more like Christ, he comes to approve and desire God’s will, not his own will for his life. Then he discovers that God’s will is what is good for him, and that it pleases God, and is complete in every way. It is all he needs. But only by being renewed spiritually can a believer ascertain, do, and enjoy the will of God.
A believer’s consecration to God and his transformed lifestyle is demonstrated in his exercising his spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. As an apostle of Christ (by the grace given me; see Romans 15:15–16) Paul warned his readers individually (every one of you), Do not think of yourself more highly ( in the original Greek: think higher) than you ought. An inflated view of oneself is out of place in the Christian life. Then Paul encouraged his readers, But rather think of yourself with sober judgment (in the original Greek: sound thinking), in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
God has given each believer some faith by which to serve Him. By his involved word play on various forms of the verb used in the original, meaning “to think,” Paul emphasized that human pride is wrong (see Romans 3:27; 11:18, 20) partly because all natural abilities and spiritual gifts are from God. As a result every Christian should have a proper sense of humility and an awareness of his need to be involved with other members of Christ’s body. As Paul explained, a correlation exists between a believer’s physical body which has parts with differing functions and the community of believers in Christ as a spiritual body (see 1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Ephesians 4:11–12, 15–16).
The point is that each member functions to serve the body, not the other way around, in other words, the body doesn’t function to serve the members individually. The diversity of the many accompanies the unity of the body. Therefore it is important to think soundly about oneself and to evaluate properly God’s gifts and their uses within ourselves as the Holy Spirit guides our thinking.
Paul then applied what he had just said to the exercise of God-given abilities for spiritual service. He built on the principle that, We have different gifts (not all have the same function; see 1 Corinthians 12:4). The grace-gifts are according to God’s grace. He listed seven gifts, none of which, with the possible exception of prophesying, is a sign gift. The Greek text is much more abrupt than any of our English translations; the words let him is supplied for smoother English.
One’s “prophesying” is to be done in proportion to his faith; a better translation would be “in agreement to the (not ‘his’) faith.” That is, prophesying, or, communicating God’s message, to strengthen, encourage, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3), is to be in right relationship to the body of truth already revealed (see “faith” as doctrine in Galatians 1:23; Jude 3, 20). The other six gifts mentioned here are serving . . . teaching . . . encouraging . . . contributing . . . leadership, and showing mercy. Contributing to people’s needs is to be done with generosity and with liberality (2 Corinthians 8:2; 9:11, 13). Managing, leading, or administering (literally, “standing before”; see “who are over,” 1 Thessalonians 5:12) is to be done diligently (in eagerness, earnestness), not lazily or halfheartedly. And bestowing mercy is to be done cheerfully (in gladness), not with sadness or begrudgingly.
Three of these seven gifts are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (prophets, teachers, administration); three (prophets, pastors, and teachers) are included in Ephesians 4:11; and two (administering and serving) are listed in 1 Peter 4:10–11. Whatever one’s gift, he should exercise it faithfully as a stewardship from God.
Jesus touched on this very subject when He taught the Parable of the Talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus thought it was important enough to teach on and pass on to His disciples, and Paul, guided by inspiration from the Holy Spirit expounded on it, so it stands to reason then, that it is a very important part of a Christian’s walk, and a service to the Lord!
Are you using the gifts God has bestowed on you as a sacrifice of worship to Him, or are you burying the talent He has given you out of fear? As always with the Lord who loves us so dearly, the choice, is ours!