Find Your Place! (Romans 12:3-8)

Monday, November 7th, 2016
Sermon Series: Romans

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Find Your Place!

Romans 12:3-8

A raise of hands–how many of you are committed to Christ? The Bible teaches, “If you are committed to Christ, then you will be committed to His Church!” Turn to Romans 12 and take your outline. For eleven chapters, Paul has been teaching doctrine. Now in chapter 12 through 16, Paul teaches direction. Eleven chapters of who we are–now five chapters on what we do.

The most important practical aspect of our Christian life is our personal, moment-by-moment commitment to Jesus, verses 1 to 2. This morning, we will look at the second most important commitment for every Christian–service to the Church. I find it fascinating, Paul calls you to commit your body to Christ in verses 1 to 2, and now commands you to commit yourself to Christ’s body in verses 3 to 8.

Today is one of the clearest tests of your commitment to Christ. When a believer commits them self to Christ, it results in that same Christian using their gifts to minister within the church body. You know you’re living Romans 12:1 to 2 when verses 3 through 8 are true in your life. Are they? Today let’s find your place in the body of Christ.

“But wait, why should I want to, Chris?” Answer–because of what Jesus has done for you, His mercies . . . because Christ asks you to . . . because Christ gifted you to do so . . . because you love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and because ministering your spiritual giftedness will bring you more joy, love, fulfillment, purpose, growth, enthusiasm and challenge than you can imagine.

Apart from Christ, my wife, children and grandchildren, nothing has brought me greater joy than the faithful ministry of my giftedness. I’m encouraged, challenged, often tired, but satisfied with the labor. It’s as if I have come home–it is where I belong. I’m doing what I was created to do. Are you? It’ll only come as you find your place. What you’ll find in the first eight verses of Romans 12 are five clear steps that, if obeyed, will lead you to find your place in the body of Christ–walk with me.

Step 1:  Dedicate my Body to God  Verse 1

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” The starting place to finding God’s sovereign placement for you in the body of Christ is committing your body to Christ–not your soul, not your spirit, but your body.

Saying to the Lord, “This body is yours, Lord, these hands are your hands, these eyes are your eyes, this mouth is your mouth, these feet are your feet. All of me is yours, I hold nothing back. Because of your great mercies, because of what Jesus has done for me described in Romans 1 to 11, I’m totally dedicated to you, Lord. All of it–marriage, children, work, hobbies, vacation, school, all relationships, sports, girlfriend, all of it.”

That’s the starting place. Many believers never find their place in the body, because they won’t daily commit themselves to Christ as a living sacrifice. They never get past step #1. But there is another crucial step needed.

Step 2:  Eliminate competing distractions  Verse 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” If you’re going to be used by God in any significant way, you’ve got to eliminate some things from your life. You and I don’t have time for everything. Therefore, we must revise our lifestyle, look at our priorities and make some difficult choices.

I meet all kinds of gifted people whom God has blessed with fantastic talents, gifts, and resources, but they’re too busy to be used for God’s work. They’re not available–at times they even want to serve God, but they can’t because of the lack of time or because they made commitments to lesser priorities.

But Paul says in verse 2, “Don’t conform to the pattern of the world.” You know, “Get all you can, can all you get, sit on the can and spoil the rest.” The world says, “You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto you can” in this life. But God says, “You only go around once in life, make sure that it counts for eternity.”

No one has time for everything, right? So selection is crucial. What’s important is essential–making choices between good, better and best. How about making a choice to remain at a healthy, local church, rather than running away to Alaska with no church, just so you can escape liberal California? What is best for your students–good, better, or best?

Is it best to drive your students for a scholarship? They become so busy they don’t have time to pursue Christ, learn His Word, serve others, or develop convictions. Then you send them off to a secular university where, because they never developed deep convictions, they walk away from Christ and end up with 40 thousand in debt anyway.

How about we push our kids to pursue Christ, live for Him, do the best they can in all their endeavors and trust Christ to provide? So much of what is being done doesn’t matter eternally. Don’t get sucked into the world’s perspective of what you have to do (be conformed), then give God the leftovers when it’s convenient–leftover time, energy, resources. No. What did Jesus say in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

Seek Jesus first, give to Him first, serve Him first and all these other things will be added to you. But in order to do that you have to live by faith and you have to make some choices. You have to eliminate stuff out of your schedule, stop joining every parent group, don’t be a part of every sport. Dump the booster club.

Listen, when you burn the candle at both ends you’re not as bright as you think you are. You can have so many irons in the fire, you put the fire out. Some of you are so busy with earthly things, you have no time for eternal things. Yes, all things are to be done for God’s glory, but only God, His Word, and people are eternal. Are you investing into people?

Are you motivated by the mercies of God to minister to people the way God designed you to, or are you too busy with things which will not last? To find your place in the body, step one is to daily commit your body to the Lord. God gets all of you exclusively for His usage. Then step two, eliminate competing distractions–sometimes good things, but not the best things.

Step 3:  Evaluate your strengths  Verse 3

Look at the first word—“for” connects this verse with the previous two. Our commitment to Christ is completely connected to ministry for Christ. Look at verse 3, “For through the grace given to me.” Paul is not flaunting his authority as an apostle–he says, “I’m nothing special, but I am what I am by the grace of God.” He is going to call for humility with humility.

I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Circle the word, “sound judgment.” That means be realistic–literally to be in your right mind. Paul says to put yourself down is insane. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses honestly. But how do you do that?

Well, don’t compare yourself to others, because if you find yourself better than others, you’ll get proud. And if you find others better than you, you’ll get defeated. Either way, when you compare, you end up sinning. True humility is not an overestimation or an underestimation—it’s an accurate estimation.

It’s being able to say, “Yes, God has gifted me, He’s given me a way to serve Him for His glory. And He deserves all the credit.” Practically, that means ask God what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. Then make sure your ministry encourages your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. Nothing is more deadly than putting yourself in the wrong place.

You know the church needs teachers, so you sign up–but you are not a teacher. And we all know there’s nothing worse than listening to a teacher who is not gifted as a teacher, amen? Bo-ring. Caring for the hurting is not a place for someone who is gifted mainly as a leader. Leading a meeting is not the place for the one gifted mainly with mercy. We need to be in the right place, therefore we must think soundly about ourselves.

Listen, if Paul wasn’t afraid to admit he was an apostle by God’s grace, then you and I shouldn’t be afraid to admit we are gifted by God’s grace. And you are gifted–the moment you were saved, God gifted you to serve Him in His body, the Church. First Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

And that special gift is your way to show off Christ. Each one of you is a supernatural slice of Christ to the rest of the Church. Each of you is a jigsaw puzzle piece–when you function in place, you all see a clearer picture of Christ.

Paul also says in verse 3, “As God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” The Bible says God has carefully measured out to every believer a certain amount of faith. We know from the context here, Paul isn’t speaking about faith for salvation, but faith for service. This is incredible. Paul is saying, “Not only has God gifted you, but He has also given you the right amount of faith required to use that gift to its fullest capacity with effectiveness.”

God does not expect you to cover all the bases in ministry. But God has given each of you enough faith to minister your giftedness in the way God designed. So how do we evaluate ourselves honestly and begin to discover our gifts to show off Jesus? Answer these questions in the context of the Church, while in ministry over time.

#1  What do you have a passion to do?

#2  What do Christians say about you?

#3  What kind of fruit does your ministry produce? (If your ministry results in permanent life change, that’s probably related to your giftedness)

So if God is going to use you, dedicate all you are to God, eliminate competition and distractions from your life and evaluate your strengths with sober judgment. Find the balance between feeling indispensable and feeling worthless.

Step #4  Cooperate with other believers  Verses 4 to 5

There are no Lone Ranger believers. We’re all interdependent–all Christians need each other in order to become like Christ. Look at verses 4 to 5. Paul gives us an anatomy lesson, reminding us the Church is like a physical body. Each of us belong to the rest of us–we are all part of a large spiritual body.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4 to 5). The Church is like a body. Paul points to each one of us and says don’t forget who you are.

You’re part of something greater than yourself. You’re a part of the spiritual body of Christ. Together you’re the physical representation of Christ on Earth, and that relationship has four qualities to it, found in verses 4 to 5.

First  Every believer is a MINISTER

Paul says in verse 4, “For just as we have many members in one body.” He’s reminding us, just as a physical body is made up of many parts, each has its own function. We all have a job to do. We all have a position to play. If I were to ask you, “Who are the ministers at FBC?” I hope you’d not say, John, Nigel and Patrick. No, every Christian is a minister here.

Second  Every believer has a different FUNCTION

When Paul says in verse 4, “All the members do not have the same function,” we know each of us do have a function. We’re all ministers and we’re all different from each other. Paul said it in 1 Corinthians 12:17 and 18, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”

Just like your body, not every part is a nose, toe or spleen, so in the Church–we’re all different parts. And not all of us do the same thing. Not everyone sees like an eye or walks like a foot. That’s why chaos occurs when churches just put people in spots to plug holes. That means putting people in ministries where they don’t belong just to get a job done.

That’s like doing a heart transplant and trying to put a lung in the place of the heart–disaster. Or replacing a hand with a foot–it doesn’t belong there. Or putting an ear where the nose is–it’s not going to work. You know . . . “Listen to this perfume!”

That’s no less ridiculous than having Christians serve in an area where they’re not at all gifted. It works temporarily, but never long-term. That is why at FBC we don’t plug holes–we want you to try out an area to see if you fit, but never force a liver to be a kidney over the long haul.

Third  Every ministry is IMPORTANT  Verse 5

So we, who are many, are one body in Christ.” Every part of the body is crucial. Some are obvious, like preachers! Others are hidden, like mercers, givers, servers–but we are all needed. What did Paul say in 1 Corinthians 12:21 and 22? “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”

You hands out there can’t say, “I don’t need you mouths.” You servant feet can’t say, “We don’t need you mercy hearts.” We’re each important. In fact, Paul says the members of the spiritual body that are most hidden are actually the most important. That’s right! You can live without a hand, but not a liver.

Do you know what the most important light in my house is? Not the front door light. Not my study light or garage light, not my reading light–the most important light in my house is the night light. The smallest light in my house–why? Because it keeps me from killing myself at night. A small task does not diminish its importance. And nobody else can take your place! Each one of you are crucial to the proper functioning of this spiritual body.

Fourth  Every believer must COOPERATE  Verse 5b

So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” You’re dependent upon each other, you belong to each other, you need each other, and you’re connected to each other. Can you imagine a foot saying to the hand, “Hey, I’m tired of you doing all the feeding. Put that spoon between my toes and I’m gonna start feeding Chris.”

How often does your right leg kick your left, or your right hand start fighting with your left? It doesn’t. You’re designed by God to cooperate with each other. When you complain or cause conflict, you are fighting against yourself, because you are one body. It’s like being spastic. But when you cooperate, you actually strengthen others and find joy for yourself.

One real joy in the Christian life is finding your ministry. I talk to people all the time who say, “I’m frustrated.” Are you here every week? “Yes!” Are you in a CG group? “Yes!” Are you learning? “Yes!” Are you serving anywhere? “No.” Well there’s your problem. Every Christian is a minister, functioning in a different position of service, which is crucial to the body.

Some believers keeping gobbling up more and more spiritual food, then wonder why they get uncomfortable. It’s because they’re not exercising. They get so big, we have to roll them into church. That’s where we get the term, “Holy Roller”. (I’ve been waiting all morning to say that.) You have got to exercise if you’re ever going to develop any spiritual muscle.

Let me be pointed–spiritual maturity only occurs when a believer takes off the bib and puts on an apron. Only immature children wear bibs and only immature children expect others to meet their needs. Those who don aprons have learned the joy of serving others. Which attire do you wear? Because you were made to minister.

The root word of spiritual gift is charis where we get grace and joy from. The ministry of spiritual gifts is joy. Joy and gifts go together. Happy Christians are those who find their giftedness and accompanying ministry. If you dedicate your body to Jesus, verse 1, then you’ll serve faithfully in the body of Jesus, verses 3 to 5.

Don’t say you’ve committed your life to Christ unless you’re serving in ministry–the two go together in this passage. If you say you’re committed to Christ, then you’ll be like Jesus, who said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Are you serving?

Are you cooperating with other believers in this church in mutual service to one another? It begins with 1) dedication, 2) elimination of lesser priorities, 3) honest evaluation, and 4) cooperation with others. This leads us to the last step . . .

Step 5:  Activate your spiritual gift  Verses 6 to 8

When you’re born physically, you get physical endowments. When you’re born spiritually, you get spiritual endowments. This is taught all over the New Testament, like 1 Corinthians 12:7. “But to each one [each of us is given a spiritual giftedness] is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Even though it’s a gift, it also needs to be used—stirred up. Like a fire is stirred to remain hot, 2 Timothy 1:6, “And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.” Use your giftedness and keep it stirred up–don’t allow it to grow cold. Write this down . . .

Spiritual gifts are God-given spiritual abilities for service within the body. They are given to each believer to be used for God’s glory, in His strength, as His representative. Gifts are to be developed and refined in the life of the believer requiring labor and discipline. As Paul summarized in verse 6a of Romans 12.

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” Gifts are given for you to exercise. So what are the gifts? Paul lists seven gifts in Romans, there are others in 1 Corinthians 12 and I Peter 4. Since the Bible is sufficient, we believe the ones listed in Scripture are the extent of the gifts and enough for the local church to function as a body. That’s why most believe the New Testament gift lists represent general categories.

Like the major colors of paint on a pallet, you are all a blend of these general categories. No one is pure mercy, or giving, but a mixture, making each of us as unique as a snowflake. You and I are all gift mixes, or giftedness. I am preaching/teaching/exhortation/leadership. What are you?

In Romans 12:6 to 8, you see the apostolic gift of prophecy, then service, teaching, exhortation, leading and mercy. Each are somewhat obvious and Paul gives each gifted person some direction. Give with liberality, lead with diligence, show mercy with cheerfulness, etc. If you think you’re a leader, look behind you–if no one is following you, then you’re not a leader.

If you think you have the gift of mercy, but people you visit want to die after you talk to them, that’s not you. In other words, to activate your giftedness, 1-2-3–#1) start serving in the power of the spirit for the glory of God, #2) ask those you minister to and listen to those you minister with, and #3) look for Christ-like permanent life change.

#4  Look for JOY in your own HEART as you serve

It is that simple–gifts are easy to identify as you serve. If each one of these gifts were represented at your community group and someone dropped a dessert on the floor, here is what each one of them might say.

Preacher would say, “That’s what happens when you’re not careful”–he’s motivated to correct your life.

Mercy would say, “Don’t feel bad, it could have happened to anyone”–they’re motivated to relieve your embarrassment.

Serving would say, “Oh let me help you clean it up”–they’re motivated to fulfill a need.

Teaching would say, “The reason it fell is it’s too heavy on one side”–they’re motivated to discover what happened.

Exhortation would say, “Next time let’s serve the dessert with the meal”–they’re motivated to correct for the future.

Administration/leadership would say, ”Jim, would you get the mop? Sue, please help pick it up and Mary, go get some more dessert.” See how they all work together? In conclusion, allow me to ask and answer some pointed questions.

First  Why do many believers BARELY use their giftedness?

It could be they’re too busy, or they’ve been taught incorrectly, or they think gifts are just a charismatic thing. Paul says there’s really only one reason–lack of gratitude. The reason why any believer fails to use their gift is they are not motivated by the mercies of God–Paul just discussed this in Romans 1 to 11. Their salvation is not important to them. They are not thankful enough for what Jesus did for them.

Second  What happens when a Christian DOESN’T use their gift?

First Peter 4 says they’re disobeying God’s command, 1 Thessalonians 5 says they’re quenching the Spirit, and Ephesians 4 says they’re hindering the spiritual growth of the entire church.

Third  As a Christian, how do you FIND your giftedness?

#1) Most importantly, start serving in the power of the spirit for the glory of God, #2) ask those you minister to and listen to those you minister with, and #3) look for Christ-like fruit in others, and #4) look for joy in your own heart as you serve.

Fourth  What if a Churchgoer completely IGNORES their gift

They need Christ of Romans 1 to 11. They need God’s mercy. All believers have the Holy Spirit and that sovereign Spirit works in their hearts and moves them toward obedience. The Spirit has gifted you to function in a way which you alone can do to point to Christ and glorify God. If you ignore His gifts and proddings, then most likely you’re an external churchgoer, but not an internal, born again believer. Turn from your sin (Romans 1 to 3) and depend in faith on Christ (Romans 3 to 5) and the Spirit will work in and through you (Romans 6 to 8). Let’s pray.


ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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