From the beginning God designed His church to be a fruitful witness of His glory while He dwelt in their midst (cf. Ex. 25:8–9; 33:7; John 1:14-17). To achieve this goal He assigned individuals different virtues, talents, and abilities in various amounts according to His grace. Next He placed each member exactly where they would be most beneficial to the whole. When individuals work harmoniously in proportion to their special abilities assigned by God the product of their combined effort is synergistic, that is to say the product of their combined effort far exceeds the sum of their individual effectiveness. Individuals achieve maximum effectiveness with minimum weariness when ministering within their inherent qualities or abilities (i.e., gifts). But when individual members don’t work in harmony the effect of the disunity among the parts greatly detracts from the potential fruitfulness of the whole and ultimately diminishes the witness of God’s glory in the world.
The Apostle Paul had this in mind when he instructed the church members at Rome not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God assigned (12:3). In short, Paul’s admonition was that individual members continue to work within the parameters of their assigned gift so that God might be glorified through their unity.
The first gift Paul spoke of was prophecy. Prophets may be considered the “trumpets” of the Body of Christ who sound the alarm in the face of sin and compromise. He instructed prophets to speak only when they have faith or confidence that the Holy Spirit was truly revealing something to them, and not to exceed the faith that God had given them by trying to impress others. Accordingly, those who have been gifted to serve others, patiently teach God’s word, or to exhort and encourage others in the things of God were to do so generously, zealously, and cheerfully. This was especially true of those gifted to give, lead and to extend mercy. But the overriding consideration for administering these gifts was love.
Irrespective of their giftedness, Christians are to take special care to administer their gifts in love. The true sign of authentic Christianity is displayed when we love like God loves and hate sin to the degree that He hates sin (vvs. 9-10). The essence of Paul’s thought is encapsulated in Jesus’ “new commandment” delivered to His disciples: “…that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Are you faced with ministerial burnout? Have you become weary in the work you thought God called you to accomplish? Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate (1) the gifts He graciously extended to you; (2) the position in which you currently serve; or (3) the attitude with which you administer His gifts within the body of Christ (His church). To use your gifts incongruent to your position, disproportionately to your faith, or inconsistent with His purpose detracts from the whole body’s effectiveness and diminishes the witness of God’s glory in the world. However, if you are operating within the parameters of His gracious gifts you are undoubtedly experiencing Christ-centered ministry that honors God and attracts people to His glory. This is the essence to giving out of love.