19th September 2023
Read (Romans 12v7-8)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Would you confidently say that your life is marked by generosity, zeal and cheerfulness? If I'm being honest, these nouns can't always be applied to my own Christian walk. Even so, as the Apostle Paul's list of gifts comes to a close, he is sure that our gifts should be marked by each of the descriptors above.
In what way? If your gift is contributing to others, then you are to be generous in exercising this talent. Some argue that this means when you are distributing the resources of your local church you are to be generous in this work. More likely, Paul is arguing that some will be blessed with the gift of contribution whereby they happily and freely support their fellow Christians using their own resources. I know some incredibly generous Christians who have reached into their pockets with no hesitation in their support of the Gospel. They have the gift of contribution and if you do too, then you are to contribute generously. In other words don't begrudge your gift in three months time and don't demand it back when you're feeling grumpy.
Others will be called to be leaders in their local fellowship and if so, leaders are to lead with zeal. Zeal isn't a word that we use much anymore. What does it mean? Zeal is defined as "great enthusiasm or eagerness" and so leaders are to be marked by their zealous passion for their task. Leaders will lead from the front and they will set the example for the rest of the flock. Such individuals are a blessing to the local church and they inspire us when perhaps we cannot recognise the way ahead.
Finally, the one whose gift is "acts of mercy" should be cheerful in that work. What is an act of mercy? It is when you give up your time to visit your fellow Christian in hospital, it is when you babysit someone's children during a family bereavement or it is a twenty pound note when we know someone's bills are mounting up. In all of these situations we are in danger of falling into pride as we pat ourselves on the back for our goodness. Additionally we can grow hard towards the one in need of our mercy - we are not thanked for our good deed and the person we helped seems unappreciative of our efforts. Regardless of the response we receive, if we do acts of mercy then we must always be cheerful in our work.
The church is a diverse place and all of us have different gifts that we are called to use in thankful service of Jesus. So brothers and sisters, how has the Lord gifted you? How are you currently using these talents in your local fellowship? Is your heart cheerful in service or begrudgingly hard? Hear God's Word which declares "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3v17)
Q48 What are we specially taught by these words, before me,” in the first commandment? These words, before me,” in the first commandment teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God.