Dream a Little Dream Week -1
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
My Gifts Help Leverage My Life For More!
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
What is the worst injury you have ever had? How did it happen?
How did it affect the rest of your body? What daily activities became the most challenging?
An injury in one part of our body generally affects other parts too. If you sprain one ankle, you might put more stress on the other ankle. If you break a rib, it affects everything you do, making the smallest movements and basic functions painful. Our bodies work best, of course, when every part functions correctly. Paul used the body as a metaphor for the church in Romans 12. In order for the church to be an optimal body, it must have every part doing its job. Oftentimes this means we have to get a little uncomfortable in order to use our gifts and serve the body.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ EPHESIANS 2:8-10.
Verse 10 follows Paul’s description of our salvation. What is one of the reasons God created you?
Why do you think it is so hard for us to live as people who were designed with service in mind? What are some of the things that steal our time and attention?
How does it make you feel to know that God has already prepared situations for you to do good works? Why?
As much as we often like to think that we have the option of doing nothing when it comes to service, especially service in the church, that is simply not an option Scripture gives us. One goal of salvation for us is the fruit of Christlike character and of good deeds. In other words, God made us to do something, and that something is serve Him and His church with the spiritual gifts He has given us. Paul elaborates on these gifts and the purposes they serve in Romans 12.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ ROMANS 12:3-8.
Why did Paul choose the “body” imagery to describe the church? Do you think this is an effective metaphor? Why or why not?
How can the use of spiritual gifts in a church create unity? Disunity?
How does a church function when some people don’t use their gifts?
Paul’s metaphor of the body is effective because it is a clear picture that anyone can understand. Having all legs or all ears would make a body virtually useless. The gifts that God gives believers are meant to be unifying because together all the gifts make up a complete body. The church must work harder when people do not use their gifts for the good of the church. In verses 6-8, Paul listed some of the spiritual gifts the Spirit has distributed among the church. This list of gifts, like others in the New Testament (see 1 Cor. 12:8-10; Eph. 4:11, 1 Pet. 4:10-11), should not be seen as comprehensive.
What seems to be the overall purpose of these spiritual gifts?
Would any of these gifts be of value to an individual apart from the church? Why or why not? How does that help us see God’s plan and purpose for using our spiritual gifts?
What advice would you give to a new believer who has no idea what his or her spiritual gift might be?
What would it look like if every member of our church enthusiastically used his or her spiritual gifts to serve the Lord and the church?
If you think you know what your spiritual gift is, look for ways to use that gift to serve the Lord and the church. If you don’t know your spiritual gift(s), prayerfully ask God to show you, and in the meantime be about the business of serving anyway. The best way to find out the one thing you’re made to do is to start doing something, and keep trying things until you find the perfect fit. Keep doing something until you find the one thing.
What can you do to more consistently serve at our church? How can we as a group intentionally help one another with this effort?
What are some specific things we can ask God to accomplish through us?
Make a list of some of the most common excuses your group members have used or heard for not serving. How do you think God would respond to each of these excuses? Why are none of them valid?
Close in prayer, asking God for the courage to be faithful stewards of the gifts He has given you. Thank Him for His many blessings and gifts, and pray that He will help each of you live with a fresh commitment to not waste a single opportunity He has given you. Pray for the opportunity to get involved in the service opportunities at our church.
2:8-9 It’s too often typical for us humans to suppose that our actions can help earn our eternal life. Paul wrote that this is never true. But then he went on to explain the role that good works have in the life of those who are saved. Trusting wholly in God’s provision is the opposite of trusting in one’s own contribution to salvation.
The whole of our redemption—past, present, and future—is God’s gift, by His initiative. Neither religious rituals, nor great kindness to others, nor living morally counts as anything in terms of meriting God’s salvation. For this reason, no one can boast about a personal contribution to salvation. Heaven will be filled with the praises of Christ’s glory and His works. No human display of works can compare to the riches of God’s grace toward those who once were dead in their sins but now are alive with Christ.
2:10 One of the goals of salvation for us is the fruit of Christlike character and of good deeds. Grace can be compared to the power grid that extends to someone’s house; faith is having the switch turned on to connect with the power; and good works are like all the helpful equipment that springs to life when connected to the power supply with the switch turned on.
In eternity past God prepared ahead of time that His redeemed people would do these good works as evidence of His grace. Here is His power not only in giving us new life but also in helping us to walk in good works throughout this life and into eternity. We cannot do anything to earn salvation. Yet God means for us who have received salvation to produce good works. If we have been given new life, raised with Christ, and seated with Him, we will certainly do good works as evidence that we have received this great salvation.
Verse 3. Paul encouraged believers to remain humble while seeking God’s will for their lives. Knowing that God gave spiritual gifts to all believers, Paul also knew of the human propensity to “think . . . more highly” of oneself, even in relation to what God has given us. Paul asserted his authority as an apostle (“the grace given to me”) to make sure that did not happen in the Roman church. He urged his readers to think sensibly. Each believer possesses a “measure of faith.” The phrase “God has distributed” should not be taken to mean some believers do not have full saving faith. Rather, it means that God decides the particular gift or gifts He gives to each Christian based on His sovereign design for the church, not on any individual’s supposed merit. Keeping this truth in mind will help us avoid becoming prideful.
Verses 4-5. The unity of our faith in Christ is expressed among the various members by a diversity of functions. As with a human body with its diversity of members, not all the “parts” would “have the same function.” The church is “one body in Christ” with its many members gifted for various kinds of service. As Christians, we are “individually members of one another.” When we keep this truth in mind, we are less likely to think and act in ways that damage the body of Christ.
Verses 6-8. Paul listed seven of the various “gifts” God has distributed among the church. This list—like others in the New Testament (see 1 Cor. 12:8-10; 1 Pet. 4:10-11)—should not be seen as comprehensive.
“Prophecy” is the gift of speaking God’s inspired message. “Service” (from the Greek term related to our word deacon) is the gift of serving in ways to meet the practical needs of others. “Teaching” is the gift of effectively instructing others, especially in scriptural understanding and moral living. “Exhorting” (from the Greek verb related to the Holy Spirit’s designation as Paraclete) is the gift of encouraging others toward godly living. “Giving” is the gift of contributing generously and effectively to help meet others’ needs. “Leading” is the gift of organizing and guiding Christians in cooperative ventures of service and spiritual growth. “Showing mercy” is the gift of acting with grace and cheerfulness to alleviate suffering and hardship, including such activities as feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and tending to the elderly.