We Are Thermostats (Romans 12:1-8)

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We can either be a thermometer or a thermostat. Both objects relate to temperature but their function is entirely different. A thermometer simply tells the current room temperature; it’s like a mirror image of present reality. However, a thermostat transforms the room temperature. Whatever temperature the thermostat is set, the room temperature will adapt to the thermostat, not vice versa. Likewise, our lives can either gauge and grumble about the temperature of the culture or we can grow to become like thermometer - thermostatthermostats that make a difference in our culture.

Our faith is to grow spiritually so that we are not static, stalled, of self-serving, but making a difference not only in our own life but in the world around us. The way we grow spiritually and become like a thermostat is that we learn to live not by the default values of humanity, but have designed values for our life. This is the motivation behind our #VitalSignsSP message series, to give us a greater and deeper vision for how to live and grow godly generations.

EXAMINE           Romans 12:3-8          Spiritual Growth / we are thermostats

◊      Romans is letter to a church. A reason why this statement is important to remember is: 1) Context of the letter matters. The context is all the doctrine about God, gospel, and faith informs this passage on spiritual gifts. In short, Christianity is meant to be applied. 2) Circumstances of the letter matters. We don’t know specifics about the church at Rome. Rome was the capital city with high social status and many servants. Knowing the social circumstances alone, also gives us context that Paul is calling every person, regardless of status, to serve the body. Whereas the affluent can grow apathetic and slow to meet needs or volunteer, Paul exhorted them toward fervent service (fervent = ζέοντες = hot enough to boil).

◊      #VitalSignsSP 

o   GOD: God is glorious Romans 11:36 “To God be the glory forever. Amen.”

o   OTHERS: We are family Romans 12:9, 18 “Let love be genuine… live peaceably with all.”

o   SPIRITUAL GROWTH: We are thermostats. Romans 12:6 “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”

o   PRAYER: We are spiritual warriors. Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

o   EVANGELISM: We are sent. Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the sent feet who preach good news”

o   LEADING GENERATIONS: We are leaving a legacy. Romans 16:27 “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

 

◊      We must worship God fully (Romans 12:1-2)… “bodies” is plural, so we worship best in community

◊      We must worship God as family (Romans 12:9-21)

◊      We must worship God freely (Romans 12:3-8).

Paul understood another implication of living out the gospel and worshiping God freely was characterized with humility, community, and ministry.

 

Ø  Humility: “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” (Rom 12:3).

One of the reasons people do not serve with their spiritual gift is pride. If you do not have an area of service in the church perhaps you should repent of arrogant thinking that other people are meant to serve while you do not. A person should not be able to join a local church in membership with the sole view of “Sing to me, play music for me, entertain me, preach to me, teach my children, comfort me when I hurt, counsel me when I am confused, instruct my children, love me unconditionally – allow me to receive all the benefits BUT don’t expect me to share in the responsibility of the church.” This view has captured our consumer driven, individualistic culture and it must end if God’s Body is to fulfill its God-given purpose.
Humility is important to understand rightly so we don’t harm ourselves or others. Simply, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less (Rick Warren). It’s putting others needs before your needs so that selfishness doesn’t rule our hearts. We want Jesus to rule our hearts not our idols. A simple acronym helps our thinking: Jesus Others Yourself (JOY).

– – – spbc deacon B.D. said since his retirement his goal every day is to do something for someone else.

Ø  Community: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though man, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. (Rom 12:4-5)

Family is the highest form of community, but it’s not the easiest; likewise for church family. Scripture speaks of the church of being one body. Self-harm to one’s body is illogical if one desires health and life. Another Scriptural symbol for the church is marriage, and as the bride of Christ (cf. Eph 5:25-27; Rev 19:7-9; 21:1-2). Marriage is a fitting metaphor because as God hates the actions that disrupt marriages, so too God hates the attitudes and actions that divide His church. Interestingly, the opposite of member is dismember – a graphic picture of division in the church, with a call for unity in the church.

– – – Every member has a mandate as gatekeepers of unity, peacemakers & reconcilers; simply no other option.
– – – Strong care for the weak. As parents care for children, so the mature in the church body are to care for the immature. That means – 1) Leaders must facilitate ministry not do it all, 2) CM/YM is owned by all.

Ø  Ministry: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them:” (Rom 12:6)

God has given each believer a measure of faith with varying purposes and gifts. We are many but one body in Christ, which using our gifts results in complementary service to each other; we are not independent members but interdependent members.

 

Paul lists 7 spiritual gifts. The list is not exhaustive as others can be found in 1Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1Peter 4

–       Prophecy: speaking truths of God.

o  Some people with a critical spirit think they have the gift of prophecy and this is the fleshly use of it.

–       Service: (διακονία=deacon), identifying undone tasks, however menial, and gather resources to meet needs.

–       Teaching: instruction for understanding / [Elders must be able to teach (1Tim 3:2)]

–       Exhortation: coming alongside to encourage, comfort, cheer, motivate.

–       Contribute/Giving in generosity, sharing liberally and cheerfully with what God has blessed; blessed to bless.

–       Lead with zeal: organizing and guiding others for spiritual growth and personal maturity.

–       Mercy with cheerfulness: one whom is sensitive to others suffering & feel genuine sympathy to speak words of compassion and share deeds of comfort to alleviate distressing circumstances.

Imagine we are all sitting around a table eating a chocolate-pb pie. I take the pie to the table to slice up but drop it on the floor and spill on my clothes. How each of you respond reveals part of your spiritual gift:

–       Prophecy: I knew he was going to spill that pie.

–       Teaching: Friends, there is a better way to transport pie. Step 1: Get four people. 2: Each person holds a corner. 3: Slowly walk pie to table. 4: Locate a warm knife to slice pie. 5: Locate plates….

–       Exhortation: Picks up some pie from the floor and smears on own clothes. Everyone starts laughing and the mood lightens with the negative attention off me.

–       Giving: Here, let me buy another pie. In fact, what’s everyone’s favorite flavor and I’ll buy several.

–       Lead: Hey you two in the kitchen get some towels, you over there get a mop, let’s all work to clean this up.

–       Serving: Quietly, without being asked, is cleaning up the mess.

–       Mercy: Aww (teary eyed), I’m so sorry this happened to you PD. If you need a friend to talk about this, I’m available.

 

Observations & Insights

à      God is the greatest gift. It is pointless to seek the gift without the knowing and treasuring the Giver.

à      God gives the gifts to every believer. Every believer receives at least one, many times a few, and sometimes only for a season. While this principle is true, it is important to note that knowing your spiritual gift should not be a litmus test for salvation. Christians should beware of churches or believers that emphasize two-levels of Christianity (if you don’t have a certain gift then you are less spiritual); this is opposed to the full meaning of the gospel. However, exercising your spiritual gift is essential for spiritual growth.

à      God’s gifts have equal worth. Though the gifts have different roles with some public and others private, they each have value to God and the church. God shares His truth and grace to us from head to toe; as Paul says, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?…  The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feat. One the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1Cor 12:17, 21-22).

Most of the spiritual gifts are not platform roles but typically private. In other words, not many have public recognition. Suggested categories for the gifts:

Communication: Leadership, Exhortation, Teaching, Prophecy, Evangelist, Pastor-Teacher

Care: Service, Giving, Mercy, Administration, Hospitality, Healing, Helps, Miracles,

Contemplation: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues,

 

à      God wants us to know and pursue His gifts (Luke 11:11-13). Paul writes to educate about the gifts (1 Cor 12:1) and if our desire is to serve and spread God’s message then it is ok to seek out the gifts. The purpose of the gifts are to exalt God, edify and encourage others faith and to advance the gospel.

 

à      What if I do not know my spiritual gift? How can I grow to discover it and where I can serve God’s Body?

o   Test through asking God in prayer. Have you prayed for God’s insight?

o  Test through assessment. Have you evaluated your personality, passions, and experience to identify spiritual gifts?

o   Test through action. Have you exercised your gifts and talents in various ways?

o  Test through accountability with others. Do others confirm your ability? Are others helping to instruct & mentor you in using your gift?

 

à      In combination with Paul’s emphasis of humility, community, and ministry, we should not say, “I have this gift, how will the church use it?” but instead say, “The church has this need, how can I use my gift to help meet the need.” The difference is a shift of focus from the individual to the body as a whole. Spiritual gifts are meant to bring unity in the midst of division (note church at Corinth). When rightly exercised among the body there is a shared sense of purpose and fellowship (Acts 2:44-47; 1Cor 12:13, 21-26; 13:1-3). In all, God uses human weakness to accomplish spiritual work (1Cor 1). Therefore, our focus should be on serving the Lord and obeying His commands and not using what we think is/isn’t our spiritual gift as an excuse for sitting back. [1]

 

APPLY/THINK

At SPBC – we have 79/154 members without an area of ministry service; with about 44 members who have at least 1 area of service, and a small handful having multiple areas of service. We need to improve and introduce more members into ministry.

–       The whole body with all its members running…

 

Our aim is not to fill a calendar with busyness of each member, but instead to steward and maximize resources for God’s kingdom.

–       OCTOBER 29 MINISTRY FAIR

–       CONNECT TO MEMBERSHIP

–       CONNECT TO JESUS…

[1] http://www.christianitytoday.comedstetzer/2017/september/fallacy-of-spiritual-gifts.html

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