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Finding Our Function In The Body

Finding Our Function In The Body 
		
(Romans 12:3-8)
		

		 
For fby the grace given to me I say to everyone among you gnot to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, heach according to ithe measure of faith that God has assigned. For jas in one body we have many members,1 and the members do not all have the same function, so we, kthough many, lare one body in Christ, and individually mmembers one of another. nHaving gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ifoprophecy, pin proportion to our faith; if qservice, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; rthe one who leads,2 with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with scheerfulness.
			

		 
INTRODUCTION
		

		 
1. In our text, we find Paul expressing several principles concerning
		
   the church...
		
   a. Christians are one body in Christ
		
   b. As one body, we are individually members of one another
		
   c. The members do not have the same function
		
   d. We should serve in whatever function God has given us ability
		

		 
2. The last two principles often cause one to ask...
		
   a. "What is my function in the body of Christ?"
		
   b. "How do I determine what function(s) I have?"
		

		 
3. It may help to compare it to choosing a vocation...
		
   a. There are principles used in determining one's aptitude and
		
      vocational direction
		
   b. These principles may help one determine what our functions might
		
      be in the body of Christ
		

		 
[For example, when people contemplate career choices, one thing they do
		
is acquaint themselves with job descriptions.  So let's...]
		

		 
I. EXAMINE THE FUNCTIONS
		

		 
   A. PROPHECY (Preaching)...
		
      1. The Greek word propheteia is defined as "the speaking forth of
		
         the mind counsel of God" - Vine's
		
      2. Originally, this referred to the gift of the Spirit by which
		
         one was inspired to reveal God's truth
		
      3. Today, the service most akin to prophecy is preaching
		
         a. Where one proclaims the counsel of God as already revealed
		
         b. By expounding upon the Word of God, not through direct
		
            inspiration
		

		 
   B. MINISTRY (Serving)...
		
      1. The Greek word diakonia means "to serve"
		
      2. It is often used to describe any sort of service
		
         a. E.g., the service offered by Timothy - 2Ti 4:5 - As for you, qalways be sober-minded, rendure suffering, do the work of san evangelist, tfulfill your ministry.
		
         b. E.g., the service offered by Phoebe - Ro 16:1-2 - 
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant
1 of the church at pCenchreae, that you qmay welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
      3. In a more official capacity, it is used to describe those
		
         qualified and appointed to serve as deacons (diakonos)
		

		 
   C. TEACHING (Instructing)...
		
      1. Involves instructing others of the Word of God
		
      2. There are variations of this function
		
         a. Private teaching - e.g., Ac 18:26 - He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when mPriscilla and 
			Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him nthe way of God more accurately.
		
         b. Older women teaching the younger women - Tit 2:4
		
         c. Teaching in more formal sense, which not all were to do
		
            - cf. Jm 3:1 - Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
		

		 
   D. EXHORTING (Building up)...
		
      1. The ability to build up and strengthen others
		
      2. Some may do this publicly (e.g., preachers, teachers) - e.g.,
		
         Barnabas
		
      3. Others may be adept to it more privately and daily - He 3:12-13 - Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from ethe living God. 13 But fexhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today, that none of you may be hardened by gthe deceitfulness of sin.
		

		 
   E. GIVING (Sharing)...
		
      1. Some people find themselves abundantly blessed
		
      2. I.e., God has given them "seed for sowing fruits of
		

         righteousness" - cf. 2Co 9:8-11

 

And yGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency1 in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

z"He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever.

10 He who supplies aseed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and bincrease the harvest of your righteousness. 11 cYou will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which dthrough us will produce thanksgiving to God.


		 
      3. Thus it is within their ability and responsibility to give and
		
         bless others - 1Ti 6:17-19 - As for the rich in athis present age, charge them bnot to be haughty, nor cto set their hopes ondthe uncertainty of riches, but on God, ewho richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, fto be rich in good works, to be generous and gready to share, 19 thus hstoring up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may itake hold of jthat which is truly life.
		

		 
   F. LEADING (Shepherding)...
		
      1. This likely refers to the work of elders (pastors, overseers)
		
         - cf. 1Pe 5:1-2 - 
So I exhort the elders among you, mas a fellow elder and na witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 
oshepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 pnot under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2qnot for shameful gain, but eagerly;
      2. They have the responsibility of watching out for our souls - He
				
         13:17
		
      3. They must meet specific qualifications to serve in this
		
         function - cf. 1Ti 3:1-7 - 
The saying is vtrustworthy: If anyone aspires to wthe office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
Therefore xan overseer1 must be above reproach, ythe husband of one wife,2 zsober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, ahospitable, bable to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but cgentle, not quarrelsome, dnot a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignityekeeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for wGod's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may fbecome puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of bygoutsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into ha snare of the devil.

		 
   G. SHOWING MERCY (Loving)...
		
      1. Perhaps this service is best illustrated in Mt 25:35-36 -  For vI was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you wgave me drink, xI was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 vI was naked and you clothed me, yI was sick and you zvisited me, aI was in prison and you came to me.
		
      2. Can involve visiting the sick, the dying, the bereaved;
		
         ministering to those in prison, etc.
		

		 
[I doubt Paul's list is meant to be exhaustive; but it illustrates that
		
there is a great variety of functions in the body of Christ.  With an
		
understanding of the options of service available, how do we know which
		
one(s) we may be best suited for?  Those in career counseling would
		
suggest that one...]
		

		 
II. EXPLORE THE OPPORTUNITIES
		

		 
   A. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES...
		
      1. E.g., training programs offered in teaching, preaching,
		
         evangelism, etc.
		
      2. E.g., experienced brethren (going with them as they fulfilled
		
         their service; "job shadowing")
		
      3. Even if you prove not to have the potential for a certain work,
		
         you gain understanding and appreciation for what others do
		

		 
   B. TRY SERVING IN ALL AREAS OPEN TO YOU...
		
      1. Be willing to try everything you can
		
      2. You may have a talent you did not know you had!
		
      3. You may find yourself to have many talents!
		

		 
   C. DON'T GIVE UP AFTER THE FIRST FEW TRIES...
		
      1. Failures may be due to inexperience, not lack of potential
		
      2. Only with time and many efforts can we know what might be our
		
         forte
		

		 
[As you explore the opportunities given you, be open to advice and
		
counsel from others...]
		

		 
III. INQUIRE FOR ADVICE
		

		 
   A. OTHERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE OBJECTIVE...
		
      1. Pride can get in the way - cf. Ro 12:3 - For fby the grace given to me I say to everyone among you gnot to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, heach according to ithe measure of faith that God has assigned.
		
      2. Others may see our strengths and weaknesses more clearly
		
      3. They may see where weaknesses are due to inability and not
		
         inexperience
		

		 
   B. ESPECIALLY MATURE CHRISTIANS...
		
      1. Such as elders
		
         a. Who must be multitalented men of experience
		
         b. Part of their role as elders
		
      2. Other older Christians are often very helpful
		

		 
CONCLUSION
		

		 
1. The more diligent one can be to...
		
   a. Examine the functions of service in the body of Christ
		
   b. Explore the opportunities to learn and serve in the different
		
      functions
		
   c. Inquire for advice from others
		
   -- The sooner one should be able to discern what is their function in
		
      the body of Christ
		

		 
2. Then the challenge becomes one of being diligent in utilizing our
		
   function...
		
   a. As Paul admonishes his readers in our text - cf. Ro 12:6-8
		
   b. As Peter admonishes his readers in his epistle - cf. 1Pe 4:10-11
		

		 
Brethren, there is much work to do.  Let us be diligent to do it "with
			
the ability God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified
		
through Jesus Christ..." - 1Pe 4:11
		

 




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