Different Gifts But the Same Power Source

1-corinthians-12-4-6-dawn-currieWe learned from Rom. 12:6-8 that each one of us has a part in the body of Christ. Your part is your spiritual gift, your special ability. You are to use your special ability in the church. Paul wrote that some have the ability to prophesy, the ability to serve, and the ability to teach. Some have the ability to exhort, the ability to share, the ability to lead, and the ability to do acts of mercy to others in the body of Christ. Your special ability is your part in the body of Christ.

We continue our sermon series in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Paul teaches more about spiritual gifts. We learn three things from this text. First, there are different gifts but the same power source of the gifts. Second, there are different gifts given to everyone. Third, there are different gifts but the same purpose of the gifts.

Let us look into the first point in 1 Cor. 12:4-6. Paul wrote,

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are  varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of  activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone (1    Cor. 12:4-6).

Note Paul’s emphasis on the different gifts but the same power source.

 A – “varieties of gifts

B – “same Spirit”

A1 – “varieties of service”

B1 – “same Lord”

A2 – “ varieties of activities”

B2 – “same God”

In v. 4, Paul points to the “same God who empowers” all gifts in everyone. In v. 11, Paul continues the same emphasis of the same Spirit who empowers all gifts to each one. Thus, in the body of Christ, there are different spiritual powers or abilities, but the same power source—God the Holy Spirit.

The Gift of Mercy

actsofmercy“The one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:8). The gift of mercy is the spiritual ability to be patient and kindhearted to those who are suffering. Acts of mercy include tending to the sick, relieving the poor, or caring for the aged and disabled. (Kasemann, Cranfield)

Mylene has a regular hospital visitation ministry. Whenever there is someone she knows who is in the hospital, she would go and visit. She does not need someone to tell her. She just goes there. She has the gift of mercy.

I’ve seen her take care of her sick father in our house. She would wash him and feed him and give him his medicines. She would do it lovingly and patiently for many years, until the day he died. I’ve seen her take care of her cousin-in-law, Joy Tenerife. She would go to Joy’s house every day. She would wash her, feed her, and talk to her every day. She took care of Joy until the last day.

The gift of mercy is not nursing the sick as a caregiver. It is not nursing the sick as a nurse in the hospital. There are nurses who do not have the gift of mercy. Some nurses take care of the sick out of mercy. Not a few do it out of dollars—to go to the USA someday.[1]

The gift of mercy is the spiritual ability to do acts of mercy patiently and compassionately to those in the body of Christ. Like all spiritual gifts, it functions in the context of the body of Christ.

Note how those with the gift of mercy should practice it. Paul wrote, “with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:8). If you have the gift of mercy, you do not do it while your face looks sad and mad. You do acts of mercy with cheerfulness. Thus, the gift of mercy is the special ability to do acts of mercy happily.

Do you perform acts of mercy happily to the helpless in the body of Christ? You have the gift of mercy. Do you help the poor cheerfully in the body of Christ? You have the gift of mercy. Do you take care of old people gladly? You have the gift of mercy.

Notice the overlap again between the gift of sharing and the gift of mercy. People with the gift of sharing sometimes do acts of mercy. People with the gift of mercy may share their goods.

Do you see people in church who cannot help themselves? Do you want to take care of them with cheerfulness? You have the gift of mercy. That is how you function in the body of Christ.

[1] Paolo Romero, “More Pinoy nurses seek US jobs,” Philstar.com. Cited December 2, 2016. Online: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/05/16/1583724/more-pinoy-nurses-seek-us-jobs.

The Gift of Leadership

1738Paul wrote, “The one who leads, with zeal” (Rom. 12:8).

The story is told of a terrible traffic accident. Police officers were called to the scene and when they arrived they found a husband, wife, and two children lying unconscious in the car. They pulled them from the car, and as they waited for the paramedics to arrive they noticed a monkey in the car also. Seeing that the monkey was the only witness to the accident who was conscious, the officers decided to question him about the accident.

Turning to the monkey they asked, “What was the dad doing at the time of the accident?” The monkey motioned, indicating that the dad had been drinking.

The officers next asked what the mother had been doing at the time of the accident. The monkey took his finger and shook it angrily at the unconscious man.

The officers then asked what the children had been doing. The monkey this time indicated by hand gestures that the children had been fighting in the back seat.

The officers said, “Well, no wonder there was an accident with all of that going on in the car.”

As they turned to leave, almost as a parting thought they asked, “By the way, what were you doing at the time of the accident?”

To which the monkey signed that he had been the one driving.[1]

The ESV footnote for “leads” reads, “Or gives aid.” The verb “leads” is  from the Greek proistemi, which has two meanings. First, it can mean “be at the head (of), rule direct w. gen. 1 Ti 3:4f, 12; 5:17. Perh. Ro 12:8; 1 Th 5:12.” (Gingrich) Second, it can also mean be concerned about, care for, give aid perh. Ro 12:8; 1 Th 5:12.” (Gingrich) Thus, the gift of leadership can be defined as leading with caring. The gift of leadership is leadership with relationship. It is relational leadership.

Paul uses the same word proistemi for leaders in the church. “He must manage [proestimi] his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive” (1 Tim. 3:4). “Let the elders who rule [proistemi] well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17).

Paul wrote, “the one who leads, with zeal” (Rom. 12:8). The noun “zeal” is from spoude—“eagerness, enthusiasm, diligence, zeal.” (Gingrich) It means “to be eager to do something, with the implication of readiness to expend energy and effort—‘to be eager, eagerness, devotion.’” (Louw-Nida) “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager [spoude] to do” (Gal. 2:10). The gift of leading is the ability to lead people in the body of Christ with eagerness, enthusiasm, and diligence.

Do you have the gift of leading? Exercise this gift with eagerness and diligence. This is how you do your part in the body of Christ.

[1] Gene Gregory, “The Officers in the Church,” Sermoncentral.com. Cited November 29, 2016. Online:  http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-officers-in-the-church-gene-gregory-sermon-on-church-practices-109745.asp.

The Gift of Generous Giving

slide_25The gift of sharing is not giving Php 5.00 to street beggars. It is not giving your used clothes because you want to get rid of it. It is not giving your extra money because you have extra money to spare. It is not even giving money out of pity.

Rather, the gift of giving is sharing in generosity to the needy in the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “the one who gives” is to give “in generosity” (Rom. 12:8). The word “generosity” (Gk. haplotes) means “Sincere concern of people who give ungrudgingly, i.e. without reservation, with no strings attached Ro 12:8; 2 Cor 8:2; 9:11, 13).” (Gingrich) It refers to “an openness and sincerity in sharing with others generosity, liberality (RO 12.8).” (Friberg)

If you see someone in need, and you say, “Oh, she can find a job,” it is likely that you do not have the gift of sharing. If you say, “I like to help, but this is the last time I’m helping,” most probably you have no spiritual ability to share. If you say, “I’ve been helping needy people already. I don’t like it anymore,” most likely you do not have the gift of sharing.

The gift of sharing is giving your goods out of sincere concern for others. It is giving your goods without grudging. It is giving your goods without reservation. It is sharing your goods with no strings attached. He who has the gift of sharing has a “a self-forgetful attitude, entirely innocent of any ulterior motive.” (Black) I like this definition. If you have the gift of giving, you do not think of yourself. You do not have any ulterior motive. You give sincerely.

Do you have the gift of giving? Then adjust your lifestyle so you can give more for the needy. Spend less on yourself so you can give more to the church.

The Gift of Sharing (Giving)

giving-e1414188128317-300x158“The one who contributes, in generosity” (Rom. 12:8). The verb “contributes” (Gk. metadidomi) means “to share with someone else what one has—‘to share, to give.’” (Louw-Nida) The same word is used in Luke 3:11, “And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share [metadidomi] with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’” The gift of sharing is the gift of giving. It is the spiritual ability to share your goods to needy members of the body of Christ. You can give food, money, or material things.

Jesus commanded the sharing of one’s goods with others. The church in Jerusalem obeyed His command to the letter. Luke wrote, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Act 2:45). They did not practice communism—the forced distribution of wealth. Rather, they practiced “contribute-ism”—the voluntary sharing with the needy.

What if we will do this in our church today? What if we will sell our cars and jewelry and give it to the needy in church? We will be riding public transportation. What if you will sell your land and give it to the church? There will be no more needy person here. We can support many pastors and many church planters.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34-37).

Barnabas had the gift of encouragement, but also, the gift of giving. He sold his farmland and gave it to the church.

I remember Pastor Andres and Mrs. Norfely Pepito. They gave their one and only small piece of land to the church in Barangay ABKASA, Bacolod City. When they left this world for a heavenly home, they left no real estate for their children. What little they had, they gave to a church.

If we will do what the early church did to the needy, there will be no more needy people in church. Then the world will know that we follow Christ in how we love and share with the needy among us.

Just Use Your Gift

100000614_00149128_20160504043257_spiritual_gifts_exhortation-pngThere is an overlap between prophesying and exhorting. An overlap refers to the state of having common characteristics. Prophesying and exhorting share certain common components. Paul wrote, “The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). Prophesying includes encouraging and comforting. Exhorting includes encouraging and comforting. Thus, the gift of prophesying may involve the gift of exhorting.

The overlap between two special abilities means one thing. Paul was not thinking in terms of a set of clearly defined ministries. We think of ministry in terms of clearly defined tasks with clearly defined job descriptions. (Dunn) But for Paul, the important thing is to use your abilities according to the ability of the Spirit.

Do you have the ability to urge someone? Do you have the ability to comfort and encourage people? You have the gift of exhortation! That is how you are to function in the body of Christ.

The Gift of Exhortation

therefore-encourage-one-another1“The one who exhorts, in his exhortation” (Rom. 12:8). The verb “exhorts” (Gk. parakaleo) means “urge, exhort, encourage.” (Gingrich) It’s the same word in v. 1, “I urge [parakaleo] you.” The gift of exhortation is the special ability to urge, to encourage, and to comfort others. It involves three actions. First, the gift of exhortation is the gift of urging people to do something. The exhortation can be positive or negative. It can be urging people to do something or stop doing something. Thus, Paul urges the Roman Christians to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God (v. 1).

Second, it is the gift of encouraging people in the Lord. “Therefore encourage [parakaleo] one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11). Luke writes about “Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas had the gift of exhortation. His original name was Joseph. But the apostles called him, “Barnabas,” which means, “son of encouragement.” They saw that he kept on encouraging people. He encouraged John Mark when Paul wanted to drop him from their missionary team. Years later, John Mark became the Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. Paul later acknowledged Mark’s usefulness in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:11). It is all because Barnabas encouraged John Mark at a time he needed it most. Barnabas was truly a “son of encouragement.”

Is your name Barnabas? Are you a son or daughter of encouragement?

Third, the gift of exhortation is the gift of comforting suffering people. Paul used the same word to describe the comforting acts of God the Father in 2 Cor. 1:3-4.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts [parakaleo] us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort [parakaleo] those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted [parakaleo] by God.”

Do you have the gift of exhortation? Please go to the hospital and comfort a sick person. Please send text messages of exhortation to believers. Please exhort people in small groups and in church.