How do we use our spiritual gifts in the local church? Romans 12:3-5 reveals 3 requirements for the use of spiritual gifts in the local church.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:3–5 (ESV)
I. The spiritual gifts require a plurality (v. 3a)
To be effective as a church we need a plurality of gifts at work. No one has every gift, but everyone has some gift. This is why a plurality is required.
A. plurality illustrated by Paul (“by grace given to me”)
The plurality of the gifts is perfectly illustrated by the apostle Paul. If Paul, who persecuted the church (Phil 3:6) & murdered Christians (Acts 7:8) was gifted and used by God, don’t you think God can use you as well? Of course he can, and He does.
B. plurality implied by Paul (“everyone among you”)
Paul not only illustrates the plurality of gifts in the church, he implies it. He is speaking to “everyone” about the gifts b/c every Christian has a gift. If the Spirit is at work within you, then God intends for you to be at work within the church. When you come to church you are not a consumer, God has gifted you to be a service provider.
II. The spiritual gifts require humility (v. 3b)
Just as no Christian is excluded from the gifts, no Christian is excluded from this requirement. Humility is our responsibility.
A. responsibility of humility (δεῖ)
As Christians, humility is our responsibility, and it is the first step in mind renewal Rom 12:2). The world is pining for self-esteem, but Paul says get over yourself if you want to be useful to God. You cannot be impressed with yourself and useful to God at the same time (James 4:6).
B. reality of humility (“sober” & “according to faith”)
Humility comes through wise & sensible thinking about who we are, and who God has made us not exaggeration or deprecation. Paul’s point is that instead of measuring ourselves by others, we need to soberly evaluate if we are being faithful with the gifts and faith that God has given to us. Forget about how you compare w/ others. Humbly live your life to be faithful with what God gave you.
III. The spiritual gifts require diversity (vv. 4-5)
A healthy church will be full of people who are different than you and serve differently than you. God has not only saved us from diverse backgrounds, but he has also given us diverse gifts.
A. functional diversity
We need a functional diversity of gifts at work in the church. We often assume that if people aren’t serving as we are serving, they aren’t serving at all. Instead, we should assume that they are doing what we have not been gifted to do. Don’t get irritated with people when they don’t serve like you, expect it & encourage it. This is God’s design & we need this just as much as you need your hand & your heart to serve different functions.
B. unified diversity
At the same time, our functional diversity must be a unified diversity We may all function in diverse ways, but we must be unified by the same Lord & the same love for one another.