Pillar 6: God's Picture of Ministry
Passage: Romans 12:3
The Seven Pillars of Ministry
Pillar Six – God’s Picture of Ministry
Dr. Wayne Barber
I’ll tell you what, if it gets any better, I can’t stand it. Romans 12. Last week we look at Romans 11:33-36. We’re going to pick it right up today, as we look at Pillar Number Six: God’s Picture of Ministry. What is God’s picture of ministry? The church as an organism, not an organization.
We are living in a day when, oddly enough, really sadly enough, you have to explain yourself when you mention the word, “church.” People have made the mistake, many people have, of thinking of the church as being a place. If you think about it, certainly we meet in a place, but it is not the place. God doesn’t live in a building. You can see the mother bringing little Johnny to church. “Johnny, Johnny, be quiet you are in God’s House.” Four-year-old Johnny is looking around thinking, “God lives in this place,” and grows up thinking that God lives in a building. “That’s what the church is; it’s that building on the corner down the street.” You see, people who think it is a building or a place have missed the whole point. To many people it is a place where they can go and meet other people—and certainly that is an aspect of it—a social club, however, of sorts; find a date; maybe even a mate! We’ll go to the place, the church, the building. To many people it is a place to go to have all their felt needs met. And I say that carefully, because people who have felt needs don’t know what their true needs really are. And so, that place will meet my need; that’s where I’ll go, to that place. In some countries, and I’ve been to them, and it’s really sad to say, they are afraid of God. And the church is a refuge from God. They actually run to the church to be able to get away from Him. There is a fear in their hearts towards God. We can just go on and on about what people think the church is. Most people, obviously are confused, thinking it is a place.
But what does the Bible say the church is? What does God’s word say? What do those ancient words in scripture say to us and tell us what the church is? The apostle Paul has much to share about what the church is. In fact, he calls it the body of Christ. Let those words ring in your mind. It’s awesome, the body of Christ. He says in Ephesians 1:22, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet [speaking of Christ], and gave Him as head over all things to the church,” and then he says in verse 23, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” In Ephesians 4:11, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers [why?], for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, for the building up of the body of Christ.”
In Colossians 1:18, “He is also head of the body, the church [speaking of Christ], and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” In Colossians 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, that in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His Body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
Now the apostle Paul doesn’t use the term “body” or “church” in 1 Corinthians, but he says the same thing in a different way. He says in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you; whom you have from God, that you are not your own.” What Paul is trying to drive home to you and me today is that God lives in His people; in His church. They didn’t even have buildings until about the eighth century or at least until Acts 8. They didn’t have church buildings. And so, it is not the building. God doesn’t dwell in a building, God dwells in His people. The true church is not a place. It meets in a place, yes; but in a third world country it might be behind a house somewhere, hidden because it is under persecution. If it is over here, it might be in a very nice building. It meets in a church building, but it is not the building. It is people who have received the Lord Jesus to come and live in their hearts by faith.
If you remember when you were growing up, remember that little thing, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open it up and here’s all the people.” Do you realize even back then when we were growing up and they were teaching us that God doesn’t dwell in buildings, He dwells in people. The church is not that thing with a steeple on it. It is the people inside of that building. It’s the body of Christ on this earth. I love that phrase. If people want to see Christ, on this earth, today in the 21st century, they should be able to look at His people and see Him.
But that is the sad part of this message, so often we have dragged into our Christianity something that is not really biblical and as a result, they don’t see Him; they see us, if we live surrendered to Him then, Pillar Number Five that we looked at last week, God gets the glory for what He does in ministry, then it will take place. Have you put it together yet? God’s purpose in ministry is to be glorified. The word, “glory” means to be recognized for who He is; for what He can do, not for what men can do.
After all, Pillar Number One told us He gave us the gifts, the ministry, and the effects. Then we moved on to the fact that what He initiates, He anoints. With that in mind, ministry is something that is received, it’s not achieved. Ministry is not a result of our commitment, our fleshly commitment to do our best for God; no, ministry is our full surrender to Him, who does His best through us. Therefore, He can be glorified for what He does. How? Through the church which is His body.
You see, it all fits. The apostle Paul is going to show us in Romans 12 basically how to work out what we learned in 11:33-36, how to bring glory unto God. If we are the church, and we are to bring glory to Him, Ephesians also says “to Him be the glory in the church forever.” We are going to cause Him to be recognized; Paul is going to tell us how.
He begins by saying in verse 1, “Therefore.” Now, you know this already, I’m speaking to the ones who understand. Anytime you see a “therefore” you look to see what it’s there for. Now, we know what it’s there for, it’s a no-brainer; he just told you what it’s there for: to bring glory to God in all things. “Therefore,” he says in 12:1, if we’re going to do that, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” In other words, if we are going to let God be glorified in us, which is what 11:33-36 talked about, then we are going to have to daily surrender our bodies to Him. Now that’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? How would I surrender my body to Him? Because you see, my body is the vessel, the conduit through which He wants to accomplish His work. “Lord, take my hands,” we sing it all the time, “take my mouth, take my mind. May all of this be Yours.” Why? So that He can think in my mind, speak through my lips. “You can work with my hands, and You can walk through my feet. You take over my body, Father. I am presenting it as a sacrifice unto You.”
The word “sacrifice” is the word used only of burnt offerings, which tells us that it is a total sacrifice. But that’s twofold. First of all, it’s a living sacrifice, which means that our bodies are totally surrendered to Him as best we understand, moment by moment and situation by situation. I’ve been saying over and over again, don’t look at the Christ life as a concept, look at it situation by situation. Practice the presence of God by saying yes to Him in the midst of every situation in your life. Secondly, it involves a holy sacrifice. What does that mean? It means that our bodies are totally surrendered to Him, set apart for His use at all times. Now this involves surrender to God’s word. I mean, you can’t have Lordship in verse 1, and something else in verse 2. Lordship is what we are dealing with in verse 1. When He is Lord of our life, it has to include the word of God. He says in verse two, “and do not be conformed to this world” —don’t be conformed to its mold, of how it does things—“but be transformed”—from the inside out metamorphoo—“by a renewing of your mind.” Only the word of God can renew our mind. The word “renew” means to renovate, to tear out the old way of thinking, of what you thought of things, and to build into it what God says it is.
And then what? What happens when you do that? Presenting your bodies a living sacrifice, letting the word of God so renew your mind that the Spirit of God can transform your behavior. What happens? It says, “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Now, contextually, what would that be? That will would be, bringing glory to Him. We get to experience that, and also we get to experience Him, and it is good and acceptable and it’s perfect. Now when this is happening and God is changing the way we see things, because He is getting glory in all that He is doing, He changes our whole perspective as to what the church is all about. In other words, we don’t parade our ability before Him any more. We used to think we could do a lot of good things for God, but once He gets hold of our mind, once He begins to live in our bodies, we begin to understand that’s not what the church is. Church is Jesus being Jesus in us.
In Romans 12:3 Paul addresses that. He says, “For the grace given to me I say to everyone 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.” That term, “sound judgment” is a great term. So for now it is the term that means to be in your right mind. You know what Paul just said? Anybody who thinks he can come up with ministry, anybody who thinks he can do something good for God and ask Him to bless it, is not in his right mind. God is not being glorified in this person’s life. He is not living the surrendered life allowing his mind to be renewed by the word of God. Paul is trying to show that since we are Christ’s body on this earth then we must realize that we are going to function differently than we thought we were going to function. It is going to be totally, drastically different.
When the church comes alive, and the church is bringing glory and recognition to Him, it is not going to look like people think it’s going to look like. Paul said, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith,” in the last part of that verse. What he’s talking about is, he is beginning to help us to understand that we are gifted differently; that God is the one who has designed His body, His church, on this earth and each person has a measure of faith. In the context he is talking about the fact that every gift that has been given—and we’ll be looking at it in a moment—to each gift comes a measure of faith to believe God in the midst of that gift. Each person has an ability to believe God in a particular gift that God has given to him, so that he might function in the body of Christ.
When I got saved, it was like the Lord Jesus stood there and put His arm around me and said, “Welcome to the family, Wayne.” He had a present all wrapped up and said, “Here, Wayne, I want to give you a present.” “What’s that, Lord?” “I want you to be a functional part of my body down here on this earth.” “Lord, I don’t deserve that. I don’t even deserve salvation. God, what are you talking about?” “Wayne, I want to include you so I have gifted you; not only have I gifted you, I’ve given you the faith to believe me in the midst of that gift which will function to build up and to edify my people.”
Paul is showing us basically in what we are going to study today what it should look like inside these walls. When you get outside these walls gifts just float away, because everything that is a gift in here is a command out there. And the people who are gifted in here to do certain things to help us do what we are commanded to do out there much more gracefully. We are commanded to do it all. But when the church comes alive and where the Spirit of Lord is, there is liberty. This is my prayer. When He is free to work, then the body begins to function. Each person has a different role, a different function, to build up and edify the body of Christ. You see, we desperately need each other. Nobody has been given all of the gifts. Yes, we’ve been given the giver; but that’s another thing. What we’re talking about is that nobody has been given every single gift in the body of Christ. It is so constructed that we are so dependent upon each other. Matter of fact he says that, in verse 4, “For just as we have many members in one body, all of the members do not have the same function.” See? Just like our physical body. “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Now you think about that for a second. He gave us a clear picture; he said it is like the physical body.
I discovered one thing, I didn’t know that I had a gall bladder, until one day I started having pains in my back. Now what’s that got to do with the gall bladder? I remember going to have it checked and they did a sonar test on me. They said, “Your heart’s fine, your lungs are fine, everything’s fine, but you got a little,…” and they kept stopping right here. And finally, I just asked them, “You all keep whispering; what’s right there?’ And they told me, and of course, they threw in an ulcer to go along with it. It’s amazing how those things are unseen. But how dependant my body and the strength and health of my body is on those little unseen things.
This is what Paul is saying. Many of the gifts that we’re going to talk about today are not seen and they are just as important as the ones that are seen. It affects the health of the whole body of Christ. Well, these gifts that we are about to look at in verses 6 through 8 of Romans 12, to me is the most complete list of gifts anywhere in scripture. There are many people I know that put 1 Corinthians 12 with it, Ephesians 4 with it, 1 Peter 3 with it and they come up with 21 gifts. I don’t think that is a correct way of studying scripture. No, the pure list is in Romans 12. In 1 Corinthians 12 it is not a pure list, it’s correcting error. Paul is trying to drive home some points to help those Corinthians understand. In Ephesians 4, it is a different word for gifts, not the charismata, but it’s talking about the gifted men. It’s not even a gift, it’s gifted men. It’s a gift but it’s a man, it’s a person. And then in 1 Peter 3, it’s talking about hospitality, which I don’t know where you want to put that; but to me the pure list is in Romans 12, that I’m about to read.
Listen to verses 6 through 8: “Since we have gifts that differ, according to the grace given to us each of us is to exercise them accordingly. If prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith, if service, in serving, or he who teaches in his teaching or he who exhorts in his exhortation, he who gives with liberality, he who leads with diligence, he who shows mercy with cheerfulness.”
Now there are seven gifts mentioned there; actually they fall into one of two groups: the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. Are the people who are speaking serving? Absolutely. But that’s not what he’s trying to drive home. The bottom line of any gift is the function so that it ministers to others. We have people who speak and we have people who do, in the sense of serving and so he gives you two categories and yet seven different gifts are mentioned that fall into one of those two.
First of all, gift of prophecy: This is a speaking gift. Paul says, “in prophecy according to his faith.” Now the word prophecy is the Greek word propheteia; it comes from two words, pro, meaning before and pheteia, which means to tell or to tell forth. Now there is an exceptional use of this word in scripture which has the idea of foretelling something, but that was something that was apparent to the New Testament church and to the Old Testament. We don’t need that anymore because we have the written word of God.
There is a movement in our day that talks about new century prophets; well, it even says you can be wrong. Boy, tell that to the Old Testament prophets. If they were ever wrong, what happened to them? Stoned to death. We don’t need those prophets anymore, we have what we need, the prophetic word of God. We have the revealed word of God through the prophets and the apostles of scripture. So there is an exceptional use.
The word basically means “to tell forth,” “to proclaim,” “to proclaim the truth of God to others.” The supernatural ability to take God’s truth and share it with other people. Now make sure that you don’t confuse the gift with the office of prophet. We are not talking about a prophet, we are talking about the gift of prophecy. Ephesians 2:20, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.” That’s the foundation; that’s what I said a moment ago, we don’t need prophets anymore. The whole faith is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
We have in no way the office of prophet today. We don’t need that office; we have the office of elder and of deacon. We have the position of pastor-teacher; we have other things, but we don’t have the office of prophet anymore. We do have the gift of prophecy, and that’s what we’re talking about. It is a speaking gift.
Now there is a condition to this gift, it says, “prophecy according to the proportion of his faith.” Now this can be taken one of two ways. If you read it literally like it is written as if there is no Greek behind it, then you can take it to say that this gift is directly in proportion to a man’s faith, or willingness to trust God that was a gift to him with this gift. That’s not good, I don’t agree with that. First of all, there’s no “of his faith” in the Greek text. You can’t show me anything in that verse that says “his faith.” But what is in the original text is “the faith,” and when the definite article is used it is always the word of God. If one has this gift of telling truth or proclaiming and revealing truth to others it must be according to God’s word. It cannot be something he came up with, it’s got to be what does God say? “The faith” refers to God’s written revelation.
Now the word “proportion” is the word analogia. We get the word analogy from it. It means something that has a right relationship to something else. The gift of prophecy must be in right relationship to the word of God, for it to be valid and to bring glory to Christ and not to us. This speaking gift is in the company with two other speaking gifts that we’ll address later on. Understand something, each one of them is a speaking gift but each one has a different motivation behind it. The gift of prophecy has the motivation of confronting somebody with truth.
I’ve heard for years that a prophet is a mean, hard, judgmental, casting judgment on people, that’s what a prophet is. Well, excuse me, that comes out of the book of Hesitations 14:11. It has nothing to do with it. If you find a person that is mean and forthright and in your face and they say they have a gift of prophecy; no sir, they have the gift of flesh and know nothing about the fruit of God’s spirit, which is love that has to wrap all of the gifts. Read Jeremiah. He said some hard things, didn’t he? Read Lamentations; he wept all the way through the book. This idea that a prophet is one of these in your face kind of people, no sir. There is a love that so surrounds these gifts that speaks of Jesus and glorifies Him that nobody can miss. Even when they say the hard things and confront with truth, there is a love behind it. You’ll see a significant difference in the motivation of the other two speaking gifts. So hang on to that thought. The gift of prophecy.
Secondly he mentions the gift of service. I love people that have this gift. He says, “If service in his serving.” The Greek word for serving is diakonia; it means menial service. It’s like when somebody comes up and says, “Wayne, your yard is not mowed, can I mow it for you?” or when a person says, “Can I shine your shoes or go get you a glass of water? Can I do something for you?” That’s a person with a gift of service. The supernatural part is that he never wants to be seen, he only wants God glorified in what is done. It is a gift that looks for the practical needs of someone, so that you can meet them. And you find great joy in doing that; you don’t find joy in being recognized for the fact that you did it. You want Him to be recognized.
You see, it is not a position of power in any way shape or form. It’s a humble thing; it’s a humble service within the church of God. This is where the word “deacon” came from. And the word “deacon” was never translated in scripture, it was transliterated. Transliteration means that they took a word and made a word out of it. They took the word diakoniaand made the word deacon out of it. It’s also the word for ministry. When you think ministry you have to think the same way. It’s for God’s glory, never to be seen yourself and to meet the practical needs of other people. It is the person who is supernaturally gifted and finds his innermost joy in meeting those needs that God, and God alone, has shown to him need to be met so that God can get the glory.
Now Paul says, “If serving in his serving.” There are three prepositions that are helpful in understanding that last little phrase, “in his serving.” Eis means motion into something; ek is motion out of something; en means to remain inside something. That is the preposition that is used here. Now I want to show you something about that. You may have the gift of serving sitting next to somebody who has the gift of serving sitting next to somebody else who has the gift of serving and your service does in no way look the same. The heart of it is exactly the same, but the way it manifests itself is entirely different. I know a preacher in Florida, who said “My gift is not as much a speaking gift as a serving gift.” His whole ministry was built around the main gift that God had given to him. It may show up in different ways. You see, that little phrase, “in his serving” is very individual. It’s going to show up several other times as we go down this list. It means it is so individual, you don’t want us to put a shingle on the door that says “I have this gift and everybody who has it must look like me,” because it doesn’t look the same. But the gift of serving is a beautiful gift to have in the body of Christ. You see, he has the faith to believe God in his serving; that God is going to be glorified and that he’s doing an eternal work through that which has gifted him to do. He has the ability to remain in that which God has given.
So prophecy, serving and then thirdly, the gift of teaching. Romans 12:7 again, it says in the last part of it, “or he who teaches,” now look at this, “in his teaching.” We see that same phrase come up again. The word for teaching is didasko. It is the act of teaching. (When you see the word didaskalia, it means what is taught; the content of what is taught.) This word is the act of teaching. Again, we are talking about a gift. This is not a schoolteacher in a classroom who’s gone to school and gotten a degree on how to teach. That’s not it at all. This is a supernatural ability to do something with God’s word that will benefit, build up and edify the body of Christ. We are not talking about the office of pastor-teacher, we are talking about the gift of teaching. You always have to separate the gift from the office. It’s two different things. If it’s the gift it’s generic, women can have it; men can have it. The motive of this gift is not the same as prophecy. Prophecy is to confront with truth; teaching is to clarify the truth. In fact, the people who had the gift of teaching, the pure gift of teaching, struggle in giving illustrations as to what they are trying to say. They struggle there.
A person with the gift of teaching can clarify that thing so that when you walk out you say, “Oh, man! That is good.” You stop and get in the car and say, “Now how do I live it?’ You’re not told how to bring it down and make it practical in your life. I remember a rule they used to tell me: Keep it simple, stupid; you know the K.I.S.S. method. Get the cookies on the bottom shelf where everybody can eat them.
Now a person with the gift of teaching sometimes errs right there. That’s why he needs a person with the gift of confronting with truth, or the person with comforting with truth. We all need each other; nobody has it all together. Whenever you compare preachers, you be really careful because they may have a different gift than the one you are comparing them to. Don’t ever think that one preacher is going to have the same strength as another one. He’ll have a particular strength because it is of clarifying truth.
It is a speaking gift and it will manifest itself in different ways in his teaching. Just like serving will manifest itself in different ways. You can be a momma with children and you are not teaching some Bible study down the street and you are not on staff somewhere, but you have the gift of teaching, of gathering your little ones around you and clarifying truth to them. A person with the gift of teaching has that beautiful motivation in his life, he wants to make sure that everything is clarified.
Prophecy, serving, teaching. Now come on, let’s go to the fourth one: the gift of exhortation. Another speaking gift. It is interesting, he starts with a speaking gift, he goes to a serving gift, and then he comes back with two speaking gifts. It says in verse eight, “for he who exhorts in his exhortation.” The word, “exhort” is the word parakaleo, a beautiful word. Para means to come along side and kaleo means to call; to motion alongside; to be called alongside by somebody.
Don’t you love people with the gift of exhortation? It is mainly a one-on-one type of thing. Exhortation is another speaking gift. It doesn’t mean to come along and put your hand on their back and say, “It’s going to be okay.” No, you take the word of God and you give them proper instruction so that they can walk in their Christian life. Prophecy confronts, that’s not what this person does; teaching clarifies. All of those are probably involved in what he does, but his main method is to comfort people with what he has clarified and what he has confronted them with. It is the gift of coming alongside someone.
Now, listen, this is a true love gift. The Holy Spirit is called The Comforter. Isn’t that awesome? Same word. John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever.” That’s a whole idea of it; I’m not going to leave you as an orphan. I want to come to live in you, to be alongside you. This is what the word means. A person with the gift of exhortation is a person in the body of Christ who would rather, really be on a one-on-one deal in a classroom than he would be up in front of many; however, since he says in his exhortation it can be manifest in different ways.
You’ll see preachers—and I’ve done it, and you’ve watched me—I’ll say, “You asked me the question,” and I’ll say, “I’m so glad you did.” You are looking around saying, “I didn’t ask him any question.” What I’ve just done is make the whole congregation one person and from that point on the message is one person to one other person. That’s what exhortation does. It manifests in different ways. It is somebody who wants to come along side and comfort with the word of God.
Well, you see, the persons who have that gift will be manifested in many different ways. Romans 12:8, “for he who exhorts in his exhortation.”
Prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation. And then the fifth gift: Giving. “He who exhorts in his exhortation,” watch this carefully, he changes the parameters of this thing, “he who gives,” not “in his giving,” not “according to his faith” or “the faith,” but “he who gives with liberality.” What is he talking about here? The restriction has changed. The word “giving” means to give with good intentions. In other words, there is nothing you are holding on to. Metadidomi. The word meta, the front word, expresses an association with someone or something; and then, of course, the word giving. So you are associated with whatever it is. It is not just a blanket giving. A need never justifies a call, it is when God has put upon your heart to meet a specific need and you are associated with it somehow. Either God in His convicting you has associated you with it, or maybe you are already there. It is a God thing that brings glory to Him, not to us.
If you’ve got the gift of giving, you have the gift of making. This is where a lot of people misunderstand; they’ll stand before God one day, and God will say, “You missed it, didn’t you? You didn’t realize I gave you the ability to have what you have, and therefore you had a gift of giving that would have edified and built up the body of Christ worldwide, but you didn’t use it.”
You see, a person with the gift of giving has the gift of making. Liberality is the word haplotes. You think it means abundance, just throw money. No, the word means not to have a double motive in your giving; it involves sincerity and purity of the heart of the one giving. So metadidomi (giving) means that you are associated with the person that you are giving and haplotes means when you give you don’t have any strings attached. There is no double motive whatsoever.
We are living in a day, in many churches, where money is power. The people who want their voice heard, draw on “their” money; and Paul says in Corinthians “It’s not your own; God owns it all.” People tend to use money as an act of revenge; if there’s something they don’t like or whatever, they use their money as a signal that they are displeased, but they have missed the whole point. If they would just look at the person who has a gift of giving, they would understand. When he gives, he doesn’t give it to the church, when he gives, he doesn’t give to missions, when he gives he doesn’t give it to that individual, he gives it to God, with no strings attached.
You say, “Well, wait a minute, aren’t we supposed to follow this thing up? Doesn’t God check out to see that the money is used the right way?’ Now let me ask you a question, folks, do you really have that low a view of God that He can’t handle the people who would misuse what has been given to Him by faith? God has a way of taking care of His own. He certainly knows what He is doing. So, we don’t give our money to the church; we give as God has directed our hearts. That’s what the gift of giving would show us. If there are people who have the gift of giving, they stand out. We are all commanded to give, but oh, how they help us learn how we are supposed to do it. By looking at them, we learn ourselves how we are to give. When a person writes a check, it’s God’s money. Whatever happens with it, God will definitely take care of what’s been given to Himself.
Sixthly: He who leads with diligence. This is an interesting gift. He who leads with diligence. The word for leading is the word proistemi. The word pro means before; histemi means to stand. It is a person who stands up in front of people and leads them, no matter the cost, because God has supernaturally gifted and directed his life. But the restriction on this one is also different. He says, “with diligence” the word diligence is spoude. It means once you know what God is saying, you treat it as urgent and you move upon what He’s said. You may have to wait on hearing from Him, but when you do it, you do it with urgency; you do it with a sense of direction that God has given.
Can you imagine a room full of people who have the gift of leading? Say you had 700 people with the gift of leading, there would be blood flying every which way. Everybody is going to want to lead the meeting. I’ve been in a few of those, by the way. But it is a beautiful gift to have in the body of Christ. It involves an earnest effort in leading. It is not just a big mouth who wants his way. It is a supernaturally gifted individual that can hear from God; knows when it is time to move and is not afraid to step out and take the lead. This is a quality every elder ought to have. When they know what is right, and they know what God is saying, step out, don’t worry about the flack, and don’t worry about anything else. Lead the people.
A person with this gift has no hesitancy. It is a supernatural thing brings glory to God; he steps out when God directs.
So prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and finally: mercy. Don’t you love people with the gift of mercy? “He who shows mercy” and he changes it again, “with cheerfulness.” The word for mercy is the word eleeo. It is the opposite of the word that means to grow hard and insensitive to others. This is the exact opposite, you are sensitive to the needs of others, but in a different way than the server is. There is a heart to mercy that marries with this gift that is so blesses you. It is not a feeling but an action toward someone who is in need. Now exhortation and mercy have the same heart. Exhortation shows its heart by what it says, mercy shows its heart by what it does. There is such joy in this gift. He said, “with cheerfulness” The word cheerfulness is the word hilarotes. Guess what word we get out of that? Hilarious. It is hilarious to them, they get such joy. This is not frivolous; this is something that is truly a deep, inward joy that they get out of what they are doing.
Prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and mercy. I do not believe there are any other gifts in the body that make us function than these seven. And in these seven everything else will fall into one of these categories; in other words, in either speaking or serving gifts.
Now, how do these gifts work together? Well, let me see if I can help you. You are having a birthday party for your four-year-old. But your one-and-a-half year old really wants the attention; and she’s not getting it. It’s going to the four-year-old who’s at the end of the table with a big cake and all the presents. So you’re going to have a meal before you have the cake, and you’ve fixed spaghetti. You have all the friends over and some of the parents—there at least seven of them. You have them all around the table and the spaghetti is in a big bowl. But you put the bowl too close to where the one-and-a-half year old is sitting, because you forgot they are growing and their arms are longer than they were two weeks ago. You are ministering to the people, trying to put it all out, and that little baby is not getting any attention, so she just reaches forward, takes that bowl, picks it up and dumps it on her head. When she does, spaghetti is everywhere; the bowl falls off her head and breaks on the floor. There is pandemonium in the room; but you have all seven gifts represented in the parents. Now how do they operate? How are they going to treat that situation?
The gift of prophecy has to be the mother. “What have you done? Do you realize what you’ve done?” I think all moms have the gift of prophecy.
The gift of serving, “Oh, good grief, give me a broom and I’ll clean this stuff up; it’s no big deal.”
The gift of teaching, “Hmmm, I’ve been studying this before and I want to give you five reasons why this has happened; and why children that age do what they do.” And, of course, that is always really helpful.
The gift of exhortation, “Let me give you five steps to prevent that kid from ever doing this again. Number one, don’t feed it until it is five years old.” No, no, you have different lists of practical things.
Then the gift of giving, “Oh, good grief, here’s $20; go buy another bowl. What’s the big deal?”
The gift of leading, “Okay, you get the broom; you move here; alright, let’s go, let’s go.” He has everybody moving and doing what they are supposed to do.
The gift of mercy, “You poor little thing, I’m so sorry they are fussing at you. You didn’t mean to do that. What can I do to love on you just a little bit more?”
Now, which one of them, out of those seven, was right in what they did? All of them were. But did they handle it the same? No. Do you understand now that I might be gifted differently than you are? And you are gifted differently than I am? And we are not going to respond to the same thing in the same way. God has designed the body to need each other. When you see a need out of your spiritual strength, God is saying, “I want you to meet it; not the one over here; he’s not gifted.
You see, the body of Christ is awesome. It’s not a bunch of people who come in, give their money to run an organization; therefore, they give the money, they have control over everything that is happening. Are you kidding? We come in here, and the only reason we give is because God tells us to give. And we are here to function to minister.
So how can you be functional in the body of Christ? Well, listen, if you’ll start saying, yes to Jesus, God will make you functional in His body, even if you haven’t yet figured out what your gift is.