Living Together in the Grace of God
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Two commands sums up the Law and the Prophets:
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
We live our lives toward God and will be held accountable.
We live our lives toward God’s creation and will be held accountable.
We live our lives toward others and will be held accountable.
The first part of Romans is to set us right in our relationship with God. We have dealt with Creation, Covenant, Sin, Election, Exile, Redemption and Eschatology. This sets us right with God.
Now we turn to proper relationships with others. The rest of the Book of Romans is about how we live in God’s world as those Redeemed by Christ and called to be enlivened by the Holy Spirit.
And so, Paul begins by setting folks in the proper state of mind toward others, which is based, obviously on how God has set us in proper relationship with Himself.
- Grace Gives All Value v.3
I would argue that to a person in Rome, this is meant to unite people from cultural forces which would seek to divide them. We often see Paul’s emphases as resolving “Jewish issues” which are not as God would have them to be. Well, here is a Pagan, Roman idea that would seek to unite people where they have been divided. Roman citizenship makes you above others. But this is not so in Christ!
- Be humble
In two senses. Humility relates to how we view ourselves. Context of being Roman in this world. Others are slaves and are not citizens etc.
There is a different context of how to define ourselves and how we are to establish our self-image.
We might say that we should find our basic understanding of how to live with others as an issue of competition. Instead we are called to cooperation. “May they be one even as You and I are one.” And in this unity, we demonstrate that Jesus has come into the world.
- Be sober
Remember your need for grace and how you would be without it. This is the only pathway of life. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life. Few find it. You are a rescue. Jesus has come to the shelter and has delivered you from death. His value for you establishes your value. And look around at the other rescues. You are not unique in His love for you. If the owner loves and celebrates the others, what are you to do?
Sobriety about life will cause us to engage with the truth and repent. When we do not want to follow, we follow! Because we know that in following we have life.
- View yourself and others through faith
When you find yourself competing, criticizing and complaining, stop and celebrate!
What do you have that you did not receive?
I Cor 4: 6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us!
- Unity and Diversity in Christ v.4-5
I Cor 12:4-6
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
- We have a corporate identity and need
One body, many members, different functions. What is the corporate purpose? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever! To reflect the image of God to the world. To be the bride and body of Christ.
- We have an individual identity and function
God works in us individually to serve the corporate church.
You have a different function in service to the group.
Do not think too highly of yourselves.
Matthew 23 criticism of the Jewish leaders:
11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Criticism of the Gentile leaders:
Matthew 20: 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- The body is greater than the parts
If you do not recognize the body of Christ, you diminish the body of Christ. And conflict is coming! If you want to look ahead to chapter 14. There will always be reasons to think meanly of others, and when we do so, we will think more highly of ourselves in comparison.
The body is the body of Christ.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Three corporate metaphors: Body, Bride, Building
III. Use God’s Grace in You to Serve Others
So, how should relate to one another? We should serve one another in confidence recognizing God’s grace in us. This attitude of service and recognition of the definition of ourselves and others in faith and knowing that our gifting comes from God should cause us to settle into who we are and what we are doing!
- Spiritual gifts of grace
I have a necessary function. You have a necessary function. Both are established by God. Both are rooted in service. Celebrate others!!! Celebrate the grace of God in you!!! Serve because it is an opportunity to reflect the way that Jesus serves. Phil 2:5
Lists of gifts: What is it that provides grace for another person? How can we serve one another? Gifts are measures of grace that are resident in us because of God, we apply them in the lives of others in humility and this serves them. It is more blessed to give than to receive. But you honor people by giving them an opportunity to serve you!
Lists of gifts: In Scripture, I do not believe we have an exhaustive list.
And I don’t think I want to do a deep dive into the gifts. I would rather you see the Holy Spirit as a gift. I would rather you see Jesus as a gift, I would rather you see yourself as a gift.
Use your strengths to serve. What makes you strong? Spiritual gifts, life experiences, training and knowledge, your personality. All of these kinds of things make you unique. You can and should obviously grow in these things.
- We are meant to dispense grace to others
This speaks to our purpose.
It speaks to how God works in us
and how He works in Christ.
I Peter 4: 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
- There are a variety of grace needs
What do we need grace for in our lives?
We need grace in order to have a gift to share.
(Charis= gift of joy) Char=joy.
And the we need grace to use our gift profitably!
Those with prophecy need faith.
Those who dispense mercy need cheerfulness
Those who give need generosity.
Those who lead need diligence.
Those who teach need to teach.
Those who encourage need to encourage.
Those who serve need to serve.