5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:5–8, NKJV)
Christians are one body in Christ and members of one another. We are interconnected, joined together in Christ by our common faith and common salvation (Tit. 1:4; Jude 3). (The local church is described this way in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.) God has blessed us with different gifts, and He calls on us to use them for the benefit of His church. To achieve this requires us to serve each other with humility. Remembering the church belongs to Christ (not us) helps us focus on helping one another instead of demanding that others do our bidding (Phil. 2:1-8). The Son of Man came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28). Like Jesus, use today to focus on serving someone instead of expecting someone to serve you. Doing so will strengthen you and the body of Christ.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (Ephesians 4:11, NKJV)
After Christ defeated sin at the cross, and death by His resurrection, He ascended to heaven, sat down at the right hand of God, and “gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:7-10). These gifts are enumerated for us in verse 11. These gifts, both inspired (apostles and prophet) and uninspired (evangelists, pastors, teachers), constitute 1) the revelation of the gospel of Christ from heaven to earth, and 2) its proclamation to the whole world. Inspired men received revelation from God, and with confirming miracles, by inspiration they “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Peter 1:21). Evangelists preach the same word of God (2 Timothy 4:2-5). Pastors “tend the flock” among them, feeding the local church the same word (1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 14:23; 20:28). Faithful teachers teach the same word to others (2 Timothy 2:2). If we fail to value Bible teaching and learning, we fail to honor and benefit from these gifts Christ which Christ gave the world; gifts that are for our salvation, our spiritual strength, our service and our unity as we grow in Christ. Tomorrow, we will explore the reasons for these gifts, as we consider Ephesians 4:12-13.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:4–5, NKJV)
God is the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17). But one’s heart must be open to seeing and appreciating His gifts. When sin hardens the heart its eyes are closed to seeing God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, much less allowing these good things to stimulate repentance. Instead of laying up treasures in heaven, this hard, unthankful and unholy heart lays up treasures that will be repaid with wrath in the day of God’s righteous judgment. There will be no satisfaction on the day of judgment that “I did it my way,” when “your way” results in your eternal death. Today is the day to soften your heart toward God and be thankful for the many good gifts He gives you. Let these lead you to repentance so you can live in His blessings instead of being under His brooding wrath. May we never look with disgust upon the rich blessings of God.