"Using, Not Abusing"
1. Aesop tells of an interesting event in a dog's life. The dog while taking a bone home crosses a small footbridge. He peers into the water, viewing a dog with a bigger bone. He jumps into the water to find out he has fought with his reflection in the water and has come out of it wet and without a bone...he goes home.
2. Are we like the dog? Listen to a man by the name of Charles Hummel talk of another misconception: "Traditional theology and American individualism have combined to foster a self-centered approach to spiritual gifts. Christians are often urged to inquire: 'What is my gift? How can I use it and discover it?' Our culture pressures us to ask: Who am I? How can I be fulfilled and realize my potential?' Is this the N.T. emphasis on spiritual gifts?
3. Maybe there is a real temptation to lead a "dog's life" in trying to selfishly look for more, but in that pursuit willing we lose what we have? What's the answer (Romans 12:1-8)? It is...
I. A THINKING ISSUE - ROMANS 12:1-8
A. The conclusion: give your life to God! - verses 1-2
1. The gift to God - Me (verse 1)! Faithful surrender in obedience is how we operate (1 John 4:19) and the byproduct is feelings/emotions! Giftedness, as a consequence, is not personality and does not change personality...it is a God-given ability to do something (see 2 Timothy 1:6-8,12-14).
2. The challenge to serve (verse 2). Conformity vs. transformation. What kind of transformation: feeling or thought? Thought! "Prove" = test, determine by doing something. Key: the basis for exercising our gifts is in doing, not feeling.
B. Issue of thinking - verses 3-5
1. Reasonable thinking versus pride...
2. What does being in your right mind involve? Don't try to inflate your image. God has given something to each of us!!!
3. One body/different members (see 1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
C. Gifts that differ - verses 6-8
1. Why only one miraculous gift mentioned (see Romans 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 13)? Prophecy today could be labeled as preaching
2. Gifts categorized into gifts of speaking and service (see 1 Peter 4:10-11): Gifts of speaking: prophecy (preaching), teaching, exhortation; Gifts of serving: ministry, giving, ruling, mercy.
3. Reasons for varied gifts: To enable the body to function in a systematic, co-ordinated way; To provide a place for every member of the body to perform a useful service; To expel disharmony from the body; To glorify God (see 1 Corinthians 12:24).
II. A DOING ISSUE - PRACTICE OF THE GIFTS
A. Problems to look out for!
1. Confusion in looking for your place in the body. Where do I belong, what can I do?? Remember the principle of faith and obedience being the guiding issue (e.g. a train being pulled by the engine, not by the caboose). Our Christianity is pulled by our obedient faith, not by our emotions.
2. Don't fixate on one "gift" to rationalize away other Biblical responsibilities.
3. "Self-deception"...remember the dog??
B. Where are we looking? In "experience" or in God's word?