Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beautiful Body Parts

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do you think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
- Romans 12:3-8

Paul begins this passage by telling the Romans to not think more highly of themselves than they should. Paul realized he had been transformed from being a man who hated and tortured believers in the name of God into a missionary who introduced people to Christ. He reminded them and us to realize we are sinners saved by a holy, righteous God because it is His nature to be gracious. It is only because God loved us and has invited us into a relationship with Him that we are His children.

Next, he takes us to a more outward perspective as he reminds us we are all part of the body of Christ – the church. He reminds us the church is made up of many individuals who have different functions within the church. God gives each of us a unique blend of special abilities, passions and desires to do things nobody else can do. He names some of the gifts in this passage (others are found in 1 Corinthians 12). The gifts Paul lists are: prophecy – telling forth the truth according to the word of God, ministering – coming along side of people and helping them, teaching – being able to understand and communicate God's word, exhortation – encouraging people to live lives that are obedient to God's word, giving – the ability to see needs and give to meet those needs, ruling — shepherding or the ability to help believers mature, mercy – the ability to be merciful and forgiving and the ability to come along side of people and help them to live in the light of God's mercy. It is interesting that spiritual gifts flow over into our everyday lives. If we mature and react to a given situation, it is often partly controlled by our spiritual gift. For example, when a child spills his milk the prophet might confront him for his carelessness, the person with the gift of ministry would bend down and help the child clean the mess, the person with the gift of exhortation would try to help him understand what caused the spill, the person who is a teacher would try to discern why the milk was spilled and help the child see what he could do differently, the person who has the gift of mercy would care more about the child's embarrassment and try to alleviate that, and the person with giving would probably replace the milk!

One of the friends with whom I used to do a Bible Study had the Spiritual gift of faith. When we first started meeting it was funny because in her honesty she shared how she could not understand how people had doubts about God. She, from the time she became a Christian, never doubted God, His love, or His sovereign plans for her life. We grew up in very similar family structures and did not experience Christ in our childhood homes. Yet, I love God's word and often wrestle with the truths contained in it before they actually become a part of my heartfelt faith. Every time we met I could show her things from the scripture she hadn't noticed before, because I have grown in my faith by wrestling with what I read in His word and because my gift is teaching. She in turn exhorted me to trust God in the way I never had before. During one of our early studies I encouraged her to give the freedom to let people express doubt so she could see God use her gifts to speak faith into their lives. Oddly, I probably reaped the most benefit of that advice. I could express my doubts to her freely without fear of rejection or admonition. I knew she loved me and accepted me and I was blessed by the encouragement she gave me to trust God. I always walked out of our study together full of hope and a whole new perspective on life. She in turn told me that she felt free to tell me she doesn't know how to say something to someone who doubts and we looked in scripture and found answers. She also asked me for insight into a passage and if it was one that I had struggled through I could give her all the ramifications of what that passage meant in my life. It was a really blessed “body” relationship! 

What are your passions, gifts, and abilities? How do you use them to build up the body? Do you accept other's gifts and view them as important as your own? Do you encourage other people to their gifts? Do you realize how valuable your own gifts are to the body of Christ?

Prayer: Father, thank you for your grace and for taking each of us out of the muck that we use to live in. Thank you for gifting people with special abilities and placing them in the body of Christ as You would. Thank you for the prophets, teachers, helpers, givers, and merciful people You have put in my life. Give each of us the courage and strength and insight to use our abilities and passions in ways that will honor and glorify You. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!