4 May 2021Romans 12:3-16
Let love be genuine (v. 9)
This section is a set of brief notes. They sketch the implications of the commandment: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Paul sets his notes within his theological convictions.
He begins with ‘grace’. Grace is God’s limitless generosity towards everyone. It is the gift of God’s own presence in the human heart – without which no one can respond to God’s kindness. Grace is indescribably varied. With infinite sensitivity and respect God’s grace comes to each individual with its own tone, texture and colour. It is always a blessing. It lovingly transforms the human heart, turning the heart’s affection towards God.
God’s grace provides for each individual their own cluster of gifts. One gift is common to all – the gift of faith, though the degree of faith varies from person to person. Beyond that the gifts of grace are diverse, and appropriate to each individual. But with each gift comes the inspiration to dedicate its use to the benefit of others.
Verses 3 and 16 Paul the prosecutor has been blessed by God’s grace (verse 14) to become an apostle. He has the authority to say to everyone in the Church: Be humble always; you have become what you are by God’s grace!
Verses 4-8 and 11 Grace-filled people deploy their gifts to mutual benefit in the Church. Ministry to one another is everyone’s privilege and duty. Leadership is dispersed through the whole community. Whoever has, for example, the gifts of prophecy, administration, teaching, or encouraging, must be given space to use them. In sharing their distinctive gifts everyone must be generous; every initiative to meet another’s need must be taken with enthusiasm; every act of costly compassion must be done gladly (with cheerfulness).
Verses 9-10, 12-16 God intends that every gift entrusted to a believer should express God’s love – so let love be genuine. Authentic love builds empathy and reaches beyond the congregation. Humility in deploying God’s gifts keeps believers open also to receive ministry from every other believer.
- In your congregation is everyone expected to minister with their distinctive gifts to everyone else? Or are some gifts highly prized, with many other gifts being undervalued or almost invisible? What can you do to enrich the vision of mutual ministry in your congregation?
- How do you understand the cluster of gifts God has given to you? Have you checked with people you trust that there are not gifts entrusted to you that you have not yet identified? In what gracious ways can you exercise your gifts more fully in the Church? Who will help you to do that?
- In your experience, what is the hardest example of blessing those who persecute you? With whom in the Church have you shared your difficulty?