Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 12:3-8 (NLT)
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Reflection: Romans 12:3-8 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
The will of God for changed relationships: (Romans 12: 1– 15: 13)
Now all believers, irrespective of their ethnic origin, are brothers and sisters in the one international family of God, and so all have precisely the same vocation to be the holy, committed, humble, loving and conscientious people of God…. God’s grace, far from encouraging or condoning sin, is the spring and foundation of righteous conduct.
(Romans 12:3–8) Our relationship to ourselves: thinking soberly about our gifts
Our renewed mind, which is capable of discerning and approving God’s will, must also be active in evaluating ourselves, our identity and our gifts. For we need to know who we are, and to have an accurate, balanced and above all sober self-image. A renewed mind is a humble mind like Christ’s.
In thinking about ourselves we must avoid both too high an estimate of ourselves and (Paul might have added) too low an estimate. Instead, and positively, we are to develop a sober judgment. How? First by reference to our faith, and secondly by reference to our gifts.
- God’s gospel: saving faith in Christ crucified…. Only this gospel of the cross, indeed only ‘Christ himself in whom God’s judgment and mercy are revealed’, can enable us to measure ourselves soberly.
- God’s gifts: we are dependent on one another, and the one-anotherness of the Christian fellowship is enhanced by the diversity of our gifts. The recognition that God is the giver of the gifts is indispensable if we are to ‘form a sober estimate’ (REB) of ourselves.
Just as God’s grace had made Paul an apostle (3), so his grace bestows different gifts on other members of Christ’s body. Paul proceeds to give his readers a sample of seven gifts, which he urges them to exercise conscientiously for the common good. He divides them into two categories, which might be called ‘speaking gifts’ (prophesying, teaching and encouraging) and ‘service gifts’ (serving, contributing, leading and showing mercy).
“By God’s Grace”
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen