“… each member [of the body of Christ] belongs to all the others. We have different gifts …” Romans 12:5-6
Have you ever thought that? That we belong to each other? And, if that is true, that we really don’t have the choice to withhold our different gifts? Paul writes that we belong to each other, and that our gifts therefore belong to each other. What are our gifts? Paul lists prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, and showing mercy. There are many more, I’m sure. Later in his letter he writes to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, never lacking in zeal. This is a far cry from doing something once in a while when we think of it and it is convenient.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:10-13
Rather than living this way, I find that I am often despairing, crabby and complaining, lazy and selfish. I mostly forget about the poor among us and tend to be introverted, solitary, private, and would rather be secluded or cloistered.
Paul goes on to say: live in harmony, do not be proud, do not repay evil for evil, live at peace with everyone, do not take revenge, take care of your hungry and thirsty enemy. How on earth does someone like me do all this? The answer is: I don’t. It would be very sad if it was up to me. But rather, “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
In the above verse Romans 12:5, the phrase “we belong to each other” is in the Greek, “each member one.” We are one, or supposed to be. It is the same word that Jesus used here:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. John 17:22-23
“… each member belongs to all the others.” Each member one in complete unity.
“In a context of humble service, a context that is not only counter-intuitive but also counter-cultural for most of us, Paul tells us to exercise our spiritual gifts in humble service to the Body of Christ. Think about the magnitude of the implication of this … Not only are we to adopt an attitude of true and honest humility, not only are we to consider our positions as members of and belonging to the Body of Christ, but we are to serve the Body of Christ. Yet even more striking than that, we are to rely upon our spiritual gift from God in our service, which is to say that we are not to rely on our own strength, ability or talent, but on God’s grace alone.” — Don Merritt 1
This is indeed a counter-cultural attitude in this day of independence and a focus on self-awareness, identity and fulfillment. To submerge your “self,” to let the self be crucified, to yield to the will of another, even if that other is God, is viewed as strange and even dangerous. But I pray that the Lord will help us to have the mind of Christ. That He will help us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and work in us what is pleasing to Him.
I know that the phrase, “God’s gift to the world,” is the butt of jokes, as in “he thinks he is God’s gift to the world.” But in reality, we are, or are supposed to be. If we belong to God, if we are in Christ, then, yes, we have been given gifts to give, but more fundamentally, our lives, we ourselves, are gifts that God desires to give to the church and to the world. It is us, me and you. We are the gift. And God wants to give us away that His glory may be seen in all the earth.
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29
And now may the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
… each member belongs to all the others …
Photo, Gift, by Asenat29 https://flic.kr/p/aVmeYp