Service to Brethren: Devotion
Proper attitude (Romans 12:3)
Proving what the will of God is demonstrated in how we treat the people around us. It is a natural result of our service to God. “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (I John 4:20-5:1).
Thus Paul teaches each of us to have a proper attitude. This ability to teach Paul sees as a precious gift granted to him (Ephesians 3:8). In mentioning this, Paul assures us that he doesn’t see himself as superior or a dictator of the Christian faith, but a servant entrusted with a precious gift that he is passing on to others.
It is very easy to slip into a mindset that overestimates your own personal worth. The standard we measure ourselves is not our opinions, but what God has said (II Corinthians 10:13-18; I Corinthians 4:5; Romans 2:29). Instead, we are to think, to use our reason – not our feelings – and act in a sober manner as a result, according to the faith God gives each of us (I Peter 1:13).
- Can a person think too lowly of himself? What might result if he did?
- Is it wrong to recognize that you have abilities or talents in certain areas?
People have different abilities (Romans 12:4-8)
Drawing a parallel to the human body, Paul points out that each part of the body doesn’t do the same functions even though they are all members of one body. The same is true of Christians (I Corinthians 12:4-31; Ephesians 4:25; 5:30). We should not expect all members to behave exactly the same or to excel at the same things. Unity is emphasized, but not unity for its own sake. It is unity in Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).
In keeping with not thinking too highly of ourselves, Paul points out that the abilities that we have, miraculous or not, are gifts from God. We can’t lay claim to those abilities as proving that we are someone special.
Since they are gifts, we should make the best use of what God has given us. Each of us are not given the same set of gifts (I Corinthians 7:7; 12:4). What we do have is according to God’s kindness to us. Paul then gives a list of specific examples of gifts from God.
- How does someone prophesy in proportion to our faith? Notice that it is “our faith” and not “his faith.” Are we talking about the strength of personal faith or the system of faith given by God, or something else?
- What is ministry?
- What kind of leadership is being talked of in Romans 12:8? (I Thessalonians 5:12; I Timothy 3:4-5, 12; 5:17).
Sincere love (Romans 12:9-13)
What is it that we owe to each other? Paul starts with love, the foundation of all relationships (I Corinthians 13:1-8). It isn’t a suggestion because love is the characteristic that is to define Christianity (John 15:12, 17; Ephesians 5:2; I Thessalonians 4:9; I John 3:11; 4:20-21). It can’t be just a show of love, it has to be sincere (I John 3:18; I Peter 1:22).
The second is to make a distinction between what is right and wrong (I Thessalonians 5:22-23; Psalms 34:14). Thus, love is not blindly given to any without consideration of who is being loved. Nor does love make compromises with sin. Sin is to be abhorred (Psalms 101:3:; 119:104; Amos 5:15; Romans 6:1-2). Righteousness is to be held on to (I Thessalonians 5:15; I Peter 3:10-11).
Love is also to be shown. The word here is one expressing the love between parents and children (I Peter 2:17). “Preferring” translates the Greek word proegeomai, which means setting an example by going before. You don’t wait for others to love you and then love them back. You honor people by showing love to them first. Paul further presses the point: we must not drag our feet in the effort. The word “diligence” translates the Greek word spoude, which contains three simultaneous meanings:
- To hurry or do quickly
- To work hard and do your best
- A speediness because you are eager and willing to do the work.
“Fervent” refers to boiling water or heating metal. It is the intensity of desire to do all we can. In this way, you are not only serving your brethren, but you are also serving the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24).
In our hope for the future, we keep an attitude of joy (I Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4). In persecution, we remain patient (James 1:4). In prayer, we remain steadfast (I Thessalonians 5:17; Colossians 4:2). Each of these bolsters the others, making all easier to accomplish. In serving others, we cannot forget to improve ourselves as well.
We share what we have (koinoneo) meeting the needs of other saints (Acts 2:44; Galatians 6:6, 10; Romans 15:27). It isn’t limited to just fellow Christians, we are also to entertain strangers readily and cheerfully (Hebrews 13:2; I Peter 4:9; Matthew 25:43). The phrase says we are to literally chase opportunities to be hospitable.