Working with Others

After WW II, a group of German students volunteered to rebuild an English cathedral that was severely damaged by German bombs.  In the cathedral was a large statue of Jesus whose arms were outstretched.  Beneath the statue was the inscription: “Come Unto Me.”  The students had difficulty trying to restore the hands which had been completely destroyed.  After much discussion, they decided to let the hands remain missing and changed the inscription to: “Christ Has No hands But Ours.”

This is the basic truth that Paul emphasizes in Romans 12.  The work of Jesus Christ in the world is in the hands of those who are His followers.  In a very real sense, He has no hands but our hands; no feet but our feet; and no mouth but our mouth.

Jesus commissioned His earthly ministry to His followers.

Matthew 28: 19-20:

19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The word disciple means to be a learner or a follower of someone.  Those who are the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in this world are those who are His followers.

The first eleven chapters of Romans describe those who have been freed from the bondage of sin and have become Christ-followers.  If we, as Christ-followers, are to be His hands, feet, and mouth, then we are going to have to become more like Him.  We are going to have to learn to work together in a Christ-like way.

Romans 12: 1-21

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.         15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing youwill heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In our text, we discover the marvelous truth, that, although Christ sends His followers out with a common commission to serve Him, He equips them for that responsibility with a variety of spiritual gifts.

As we give our lives to Christ in self-sacrifice, He gives each of His followers distinct and unique gifts that enable us to serve Him and be used by Him as His hands, feet, and mouth.

Offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice is not some mystical experience.  It is a practical reality.  It is not something you do in your mind; it is something you do with your life!

We cannot really be a living sacrifice unless we are active, obedient, and faithful in His service as Christ-followers.  Being a living sacrifice also means that we must die to ourselves and rid ourselves of our pride and self-centeredness as we work with others for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Today I want to discuss how to become more like Christ.

Practice the Same Attitude as Christ (v. 3)

Paul begins with a reference to graceGrace is God’s unmerited or undeserved favor.  In other words, it means God gave us something good that we did not deserve.

Ephesians 2: 8 – 9:  8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

Not only are we saved by grace, but we are to live our lives by grace.  In verse 3, Paul was referring to the fact that he was an apostle and prophet by the grace of God.  He did nothing to deserve it!

Therefore, whatever spiritual gift that God gives you to use in your service to Him, it should not become to you a source of pride because you didn’t earn it, deserve it, and you didn’t gain it on your own!  It was given to you by God’s grace.

A young preacher was given the opportunity to preach in a rather large church.  He entered the pulpit filled with pride, but after a rather poor sermon, he came down with his pride all gone.  An older godly lady told him, “If you had gone into the pulpit the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went in.”

Suggestions for the Use of Spiritual Gifts

  • Use your spiritual gifts humbly.
  • Don’t depreciate yourselves or your gifts in false humility.
  • Don’t claim impressive gifts that God has not given you.
  • Don’t let jealousy, resentment, or shame to keep you from using your gifts.
  • Don’t let anything keep you from using your spiritual gift.

If we are going to become more like Christ, we should never overestimate or underestimate our spiritual gifts, but we should use them for God’s glory and not for our glory.

Allow God to Be in Control (vv. 4-6a)

In order for the Christian to become more like Christ as he works with others, he needs to reach the point in his life where he is willing to allow God to call all the shots in everything.

Many Christians want to have certain spiritual gifts, because those gifts are somehow deemed more important or it makes them appear more spiritual than someone else.  However, spiritual gifts are not given to people based on their personal preference, but according to God’s divine wisdom.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11:  4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

If we are going to become more like Christ, then we are going to have to allow God to make the important decisions for us, including which spiritual gifts we are to receive. 

Discover and Use Our Spiritual Gifts (vv. 6b-8)

God does not give His children gifts without letting them know what those gifts are so they can use them.

God wants you to know what your spiritual gift is.  So, if you don’t know what spiritual gift that God has given you, then you need to begin to try to discover what your spiritual gift or gifts are so you can begin to use them.

In the near future we will offer a course on discovering your spiritual gifts.

Spiritual Gifts Primarily Fall into 3 Categories.

  • Sign gifts – Found only in 1 Corinthians 12.  Used to authenticate the witness and teachings of the Apostles.
  • Speaking gifts – Prophecy, teaching, exhortation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge etc.
  • Service gifts – Service, administration, helps, faith, giving, leading, mercy, etc.

No gift or ability is of any value if it is not used. 

Live Like Jesus (vv. 9-21)

 As Christ-followers, if we are going to be used by God to win Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the United States, and our world to Christ, then we are going to have to act like Jesus.

Three Areas of Our Life That Should Be Like Jesus

  • Our Private Life – When no one sees what we do.
  • Our Personal Life – When we are around friends and family (includes our spiritual family).
  • Our Public Life – When we are out in the secular world among non-believers.

Charles Sheldon’s book, In His Steps, first published in 1896, is the 39th best-selling book of all time.

The story takes place in the fictional railroad town of Raymond, where Rev. Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church of Raymond, issues a challenge to his congregation not to do anything for the next year without asking themselves the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

What would happen in Hattiesburg, MS, if you and I became more like Jesus?  What would happen if each time we were presented with a decision to make or an opportunity to serve that we asked ourselves, “What would Jesus Do,” and then we did it?

As Christ-followers, we are to become more like Jesus.

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