Good Gifts Part 1

I was having coffee, tea actually, with a friend and he referenced the redemptive gifts of Romans 12. My friend Evelyn used to refer to them as the motivational gifts. The distinction between these and the gifts of 1 Corinthian 12 is that the Romans 12 gifts are built into who and what we are whether or not we have been born again. Obviously they are ideally designed to function in a believer.

Look at the list of gifts below. I have provided a few translations for a clearer understanding.

6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 (NKJV)

6  Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; 7  [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching; 8  He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness. Romans 12:6-8 (AMP)

6  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

6  In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7  If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:6-8 (NLT2)

While the different translations bring out different shades of meaning I think the Amplified translation sums it up well, “Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them:” Whether we label these abilities as motivational or redemptive they are part of who and what we are. Paul acknowledges that they differ and tells us to use them. I like how the Amplified presents them as talents or qualities. They are gifts of God built into us.

In my own life the primary gift is teaching. To apply what Paul is saying I need to use my gift for the benefit of His body, which I seek to do. While I have functioned prophetically many times it is frequently combined with teaching as that is primarily who and what I am, not just something I do. Why is this important? We function best when we understand what we are designed to do and seek to do it well by His grace. There is also a key connection that I think is often missed when teaching on gifts.

What is the context in which Paul talks about our motivational gifts? What causes these talents/qualities to function most effectively? The answer is in Romans 12.

1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

The answer is primarily in verse one. If we want to function effectively in terms of how He has designed us we need to present the totality of our being to Jesus as a living sacrifice. That is, we need to submit our talents and abilities to Him for His purposes.

I have an old Labrador Retriever. People often comment on how well trained she is but had they observed her at 3 or 4 months that is not what they would have said. Through some difficult processes she had to learn to submit to a leash and to obey voice commands.

What impresses people the most about her is how far she will swim out into the river to retrieve something, even at 11 years of age. How did I train her to do that? She is naturally motivated to swim and retrieve. It has been bred into her for generations. In essence I worked with her motivational gifts and she presented her body a living sacrifice.

My prayer is that we would all learn to submit and obey that Jesus would be glorified as we use our inherent talents and qualities for His purposes.

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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