Different: Session 4- Different in our Serving
Text: Romans 12:3-8
Central Theme: Serving Christ
Objective sentence: Every believer can serve Christ well by thinking differently in 3 key areas.
Key Word: Areas.
We must think differently about ourselves. (v.3)
We must think differently about our role. (v.4-5)
We must think differently about our gifts. (v.6-8)
During my freshman year of college, I decided to caravan with some friends from Missouri where I was in school to Florida where my family lived for the Christmas holiday break.
Now there were 4 of us on this trip and to be completely honest with you there could not be 4 guys more different from one another on one trip.
We were a couple of hours or so outside of town when in the rearview mirror I began to see Daniel’s windshield wipers begin to slow and then his car stop.
It’s snowing, we are in the thriving metropolis of Thayer, Missouri, and we are stranded on the side of the road- I in my Toyota Tercel, and he in a broken-down Celica.
At one point I tried to tow him with my tercel…let’s just say that didn’t go well.
We went and got a different battery and that didn’t work out…
We stay the night at the worst motel you could think of—the door to the room hit the bed when you opened it. They said they had cable, but the TV was hooked up at the top of the closet.
The whole thing was bad, but the point to me telling you the story was this….
We were in the spot that we were in because of this reason- Of the thousands of parts represented between the 2 cars taking 4 college students home for Christmas, 1 part stopped functioning. 1 part that was placed into the vehicle began to fail- the alternator- which caused the battery to die, which caused the car to stop running, which brought our trip to a halt.
This is an apt illustration for the verses that we are going to discuss today.
Over the last 3 sessions we’ve done a deep dive into the first 2 verses of Romans 12.
We learned a few things…
That we ought to make a choice to present our bodies as sacrifices to God because…
Because of what God has done… in our past.
Because of what God deserves… in our present.
Because of what God desires… for our future.
We also learned that God’s desire for us is to reject that pattern of this world.
The lust of the flesh…
The lust of the eyes…
And the pride of life…
And often that means making the choice to stand alone for the unseen God in the face of visible ramifications.
Last week we learned that God wants to change us from the inside out by renewing our mind.
That is the process by which God wants to transform us.
Out with the old ways of thinking and in with new ways of thinking.
And His goal is to so change the way that we think that we begin to think like Him.
So that as decisions come into our life we can stop thinking in old ways, and start being able to choose the good, acceptable, perfect will of God for our life.
Now, all those things make for great preaching, but they really are more easily talked about than lived out.
Today, I want to continue on in chapter 12 and begin to exposit out what Paul begins to explain based on those first 2 verses.
The first 11 chapters, what Paul summarizes in verse 1 as the “mercies of God” was the foundation for the first 2 verses.
And now this choice to reject the world and offer up ourselves as clean instruments to God by the renewing of our minds becomes the basis of the rest of the chapter.
Paul begins to clearly teach that those who have a renewed mind will be changed so that they can begin to serve God.
You see this is the correct pattern- God saves us, and then calls us to cooperate with him in sanctifying us, and he gifts us for service.
Right worship always leads to right living and right service.
Or put another way - Salvation- Sacrifice- Sanctification- Service.
And the truth is there are many Christians who wanted to get saved so that they don’t go to hell, and even desire many good things in their Christian life, but there is no serving in their lives. And if there is no serving then there was no sacrifice.
You can say that you’re sold out for God and that you love Jesus, but if there is no fruit in your life- right living, godly influence for others, then you aren’t presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God.
It is God’s desire that we serve Him and serve Him effectively.
And the truth is that this will only come as we have a renewed mind.
And the renewed mind will only come as we choose to not be conformed to this World.
And that will only happen when we choose to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
Now, it is possible to serve without being a living sacrifice-
that is serving God on your own terms and in your own abilities. In the flesh.
And there can even be some effectivity done at a certain level that way because God blesses His Word and the Truth despite sometimes the vessel that carrying that truth.
But think about how much more effective service to God can be when we serve Him in the right way for the right reasons.
This is Paul’s description of what a person who has a renewed mind ought to think about service.
We can serve Christ effectively by thinking differently. We must have a renewed mind.
The scripture speaks of a renewed mind in 3 different areas in tonight’s text.
To get us thinking and running up to tonight’s text let’s read the first two verses again:
Rom 12:1-2 (1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Area #1- We must think differently about ourselves.
(3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;
The text starts out with a pattern of this world that we ought to reject.
A normal pattern of this world is to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.
We tend to put ourselves first.
We tend to think of ourselves more often, and in higher place.
It comes naturally.
How many of you have seen a child be blatantly selfish? They walk over and snatch something out of the hand of a friend or sibling. The scenario that drives me crazy is the kid that plays with a toy, sets it down, and then sees someone else pick it up and play with it. What happens next? WW3! And kids don’t have to be taught how to do that. It’s in our factory settings.
We want to go first in line.
We want the biggest slice.
And often we wrongly believe that our interests are the most important. We may not say it out loud, but it could be seen as the underlying pattern of thinking pushing most of our behavior.
but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
The word translated here as “soberly” means soundness of mind.
We must think accurately about our scenario.
What moderates that sobriety of thinking?
“according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
What is the measure of faith? It’s explained on in verse 4 speaking to different capacities of ministries and service.
Here is the point for now-
The pattern of thinking to reject is to think that you have what you have, and you can do what you can do because of yourself and how great you are.
The pattern of thinking to embrace- a renewed mind- is to thank of ourselves as mere recipients of the good gifts of God for service to the body.
You and I are in the time we are in with the natural abilities and spiritual gifts that we have because of the love, mercy, and grace of God and not because we deserve it.
This mindset to put on is different!
Area #2- We must think differently about our role.
(4) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
It is key that we think soberly about ourselves and see ourselves as placed and gifted because God desires that we be a part of the body of Christ.
An eye, a hand, a foot, a nose…. They are all very different.
There are parts of your body that you don’t even know that you have, but if you didn’t have them you’d know that your body didn’t function right.
Is a nose not valuable because it can’t hear? Is a tongue not valuable because it doesn’t think? Of course not!
We need all the various parts of our body for a reason. We are incredibly made. There is a unity in the diversity of our body.
The scripture says that this an apt example of what a church ought to be, and what a member of the church ought to be.
That is that God has placed you with a particular gift and role and placed you in the body of Christ- Canton Baptist Temple- for a specific reason and for a specific time.
And notice that it says “and ever one members of another”. Does it affect the whole body when part of the body is suffering?
(Have you ever heard of a “man cold”?) We men want our wives help when we’re sick, don’t we?
We need you to function. We need you to function here.
What do you call someone who has a part of their body that isn’t functioning? Dis-abled. Diseased. Hurt. Injured.
Injured athletes are hindered at winning games.
Wounded soldiers don’t complete their missions.
Churches with members who have been gifted and placed but don’t function, or think of themselves more highly than they ought to, or who aren’t renewed in their minds and sacrificial in their attitudes toward the Lord are churches who are disabled.
Let me ask you this question—We are thinking differently----Where is the fruit of your function in the body?
If everyone’s service to the Lord in the body of Christ was at your commitment level would we be disabled?
Area #3. We must think differently about our gifts.
(6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (8) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Now many people, as they read this text, want to focus on identifying what each of these gifts are and which gift that they have. But before we just jump in and start describing these gifts, take a second and think about what we can learn about them from the context.
The gifts are ours by the gracious gift of God.
The gifts are to be used in the context of the body of Christ- the local, new testament church.
Paul’s point of this whole 3 verses is just get out there and function.
A danger that I see in the church in the context of talking about spiritual giftedness is that people want to take a test and find out what they have.
And the problem is that many people are wanting to wait to find out exactly what their spiritual gift is before they serve the body at all.
An illustration here would be helpful.
Imagine I’m basketball coach, and I have a player who skips practice, doesn’t play in the off season, shows up late to games, and just sits on the bench and then asks, “Coach, am I better at 3’s or should I play down low?” “Coach, can I be a starter?” “Coach, can I take an online test to find out if I’m good at 3 pointers?”
It will be much more apparent to the coach, to the player, and to everywhere else how he can best function on the team when he laces up the shoes and gets on the court.
Here’s where the metaphor breaks down, though.
There are some people that no matter how much they practice have no real business on a basketball court.
But if you’re a Christian, God has given you a gift to function in the body.
The key is to …
…offer your body as a living sacrifice,
…allow God’s Word to transform your mind and help you learn how to choose rightly and reject worldly patterns,
…think differently about yourself- not all high and mighty- but rightly as a someone who has been placed by God with a gift to function in the local church.
And as you begin to serve with this attitude and demeanor it will begin to be obvious to you and to the coach where you are needed on the team.
To be different we must think differently.
And that renewed thinking must lead to right living.
Again, let me ask you this question:
Are you serving or just sitting?
Are you playing church or are you being the church?
Are you serving out of your own power, or out of a life that has been offered as a living sacrifice?
How many of you would be willing this week to pray for the rest of the week- “God, how can I be used in the body?”