Daniel Webster, the 19th-century statesman, and orator was known for his quick wit. The story’s told that his way with words was evidenced early in childhood.
One day Webster’s father, who was leaving on a short trip, left Daniel and his brother Ezekiel specific work instructions. But on his return, he found the task still undone, and questioned his sons about their idleness.
“What have you been doing, Ezekiel?” he asked.
“Well, Daniel, what have you been doing?”
“Helping Zeke, sir.”
Through the years I’ve known some folks in the church like Zeke, and others like Daniel. Today’s text reminds us that every Christian ought to be active, involved, and energized to engage in spiritual ministry.
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.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;
8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:3-8, ESV)
There are four important pillars of ministry expressed in this text.
#1 Every member is a minister.
Through the years when I’ve engaged in local church work, I’ve been introduced to a guest by one of our members, “This our minister.” Or “I want you to meet my minister.”
Although, that attitude has diminished in recent years, too often the preacher has been considered as “the minister.” In fact, I’ve even heard it said, when someone is asked to volunteer for a job, “Isn’t that what we pay the preacher for?”
The clergy-laity distinction in the religious world is unscriptural. Paul affirms that every member in the spiritual body has a function, just like in the physical body.
#2 Every ministry is important.
Just as each member of the physical body was created for a specific purpose and is valuable to the proper functioning the body, so is the Body of Christ. We should neither overestimate our importance nor undervalue our role and responsibility in the Body.
#3 We are all dependent on each other.
Cooperation, interdependence, and partnership are necessary for the successful operation of the Body and the success of our ministry. The many “one another” passages in the Bible remind us how much we need each other. Preachers, pastors, deacons, men, women, young and old–all are vital for the church to effectively engage in ministry and discharge its mission.
#4 Our specific ministry is based on our gifts.
The passage reveals 4 very important facts about our gifts.
♦We all have gifts. Denying or downplaying your gifts is not humility; it’s either self-deception, laziness, or a failure to heed the advice of Socrates, “Know thyself.” William Barclay was right, “An honest assessment of our own capabilities, without conceit and without false modesty, is one of the first essentials of a useful life.”
♦They are all different. The text is not an exclusive list. There are many different kinds of gifts Interestingly, in this text, Paul identifies both miraculous and non-miraculous gifts. It’s a way to combat the notion that those with one of the nine miraculous gifts were more important.
Needed today in our hurting world is more members who have gifts of mercy. Help and healing can be administrated by those with a heart of compassion, sympathy, and empathy for the pain and plight of those who’re hurting; not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Visiting the sick, supporting the weak, encouraging the faint-hearted, and ministering “to the least of these” are important, vital ministries within the Body of Christ.
♦They are according to God’s grace. Whatever gift we possess is because of God’s blessings. A man may never preach from the pulpit or serve as a Shepherd, but by God’s grace, he serves behind the scenes in a way the preacher and pastor never could. He touches untold lives as he quietly and humbly serves the needs of others.
♦Let us use them. Gifts are of no value sitting on the shelf. They are intended to be used. Not neglected. Or hoarded for one’s own ambitions. In his book, The Call, Os Guinness says, “The purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.”
The two mottoes of Rotary International ought to be the sentiment of every Christian: “He profits most who serves best,” and “Service above Self.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman