Think Humbly


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Audio Transcript:
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Heavenly Father, you are a glorious God. And Lord, humanity, we followed Satan in rebelling against you. And the root of that rebellion, insubordination was pride. We decided we are more glorious than you are, that you exist for us, you exist to serve us, you exist to do our will, our bidding. Or even worse, we've just been indifferent toward you, which is even worse than hatred.
So Lord, we thank you for Jesus Christ. God incarnate. Fully God, fully man. Jesus, we thank you that you though being the glorious God, you humbled yourself. You took on flesh. You became a servant. You considered us more than significant than yourself in that you gave yourself for us on the cross as a substitute. Lord, we thank you for providing a means of being reconciled with you and also by showing us the pattern of life, the way of life. You told us to follow you. And this walk in following you is a walk of humility.
So we pray that you give us grace today. We do repent of pride. We are so proud that we don't even know how proud we are. So today I pray, Lord. Begin to unravel the layers, onion layers of our pride. Holy Spirit, we love you and we thank you for gathering us and we pray today. Take your holy scriptures, your inspired scriptures and apply them with precision to our hearts, our souls, our minds. Bless our time in the word and we thank you for it. We pray this in Christ, holy name, amen.
Today, we are in Romans 12:3-8 and the title of the sermon is think humbly. Jesus Christ, when he began his earthly ministry, the first words out of his mouth were the kingdom of God is at hand, therefore repent and believe. But the repentance and the belief, that's the beginning of the Christian walk. And then Jesus also said to the disciples, he said, "Follow me. On a daily basis, follow me." This is kind of the pattern that St. Paul, the apostle Paul gives us in Romans. Romans 1 through 11, we see in an exposition, a wonderful exposition of what it means to repent and believe of our state apart from Christ that we are wretched in our sin, lost.
We're spiritually dead and it takes a work, mighty work of the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of grace and faith and to regenerate us. And then once we do, then Paul says, "Okay, here's what it means to follow Jesus Christ." And that's chapter 12 through 15 and then a little in 16. So he began chapter 12 last week by saying, "Therefore, in view of God's great mercy, present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And that's how you know what God's will is, is good, pleasing and holy will.
In that, he gives us the principle for the Christian life. The principle is that we are to present our physical bodies, everything we have to God as a sacrifice. And then Paul, beginning with verse 3, he begins to explain what that means. And the puritans in the 17th century, they had a term for this. They called it breaking grace up small, where you get the main principle of grace and then you have to give it in little bite size bits.
Kind of like when I grill steak for my daughters. When I grill steak for myself, I don't even need a knife. I will just inhale that thing. But when I cook it for my daughters, they prefer that I slice it up and they prefer I slice it up in small little squares. They're kind of like steak nuggets. For some reason they're more tasty and palatable, et cetera. And that's what St. Paul does here with very specific application.
What does it mean to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, wholly and acceptable? What does it mean to live the Christian life in the spirit? Well, St. Paul gives us exactly what he means in Romans 12:3-8. Would you please look at the text with me?"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 measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in is teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes in generosity; the one who leads with zeal; and the one who does acts of mercy with cheerfulness."
This is the reading of God's holy, inherent, fallible, authoritative word. May he write these beautiful truths upon our hearts. Three points to frame up our time. First, think humbly about yourself. That's verse 3. Second, think humbly about fellow believers, that's verses 4 through 5. And then think humbly about our gifts, verses 6 through 8. First think humbly about yourself, that's verse 3. "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. "I just want you to notice St. Paul is doing what he's calling us to do in the same verse. He says, "By the grace given to me, I say to you." Paul has been called by God. He's been gifted by God through no merit of his own. He's been given the position of apostle. And despite his calling, he never forgot that he was the chief of sinners. So he says in the same way that he does not think too highly of himself, he calls us to sober self-evaluation that we are not to esteem ourselves highly than we should.
In particular with our abilities. Now why does he have to say this? One of the reasons he has to say this is because sin does make us self-centered. We tend to see the world centering and revolving around ourselves. We see ourselves as the most important person in the world. Question, who's the most important person in the world?
You know the answer. It's church. There's only one answer in church. It's Jesus. We know this. We know Jesus is the most important person in the world. Okay? Yeah. Who's the person that you think most about during the day? We think about ourselves. We think about our needs. We think about our identity, our value, our worth. And even when we become Christians, there is this temptation and Satan does attack us with this temptation of pride.
We begin to evaluate everything that God is doing in light of our current situation. We evaluate God is doing in terms of the benefit it's going to bring to us. Paul exhorts us not to do this. The renewed mind realizes that it's human sin that creates this self-centered perspective. We must strive to see ourselves in light of God's larger purpose. And God's larger purpose inevitably includes people. So don't just ask, dear Christian, don't just ask God what is your will for my life?
That still remains very self-centered. It's better to ask, "Lord, what are you doing now? Where I am, Lord, in my town, in my city, in my church? Lord, what are you doing and how can I be of service in what you are doing?" While even each of us, we do have dignity and we have value because of the fact that we're creating the image of God, the imago dei. But still, we must not forget that we've been redeemed by Christ. Apart from Christ, we're nothing. We must see ourselves with a proper sense of proportion.
The question you have to ask is, "Why start here, Paul? You gave us the principle that we are in view of God's mercy. Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God. That's the principle. And then the first application of the principles is not to think too highly of ourselves. Why start here?" Well we start here because humility is the first thing. There's nothing terribly surprising about that. Augustine said when he was asked, What is the key to godliness? He said, "First, humility. Second humility. And third, humility."
It's humility that that draws us into a life of Christ's likeness. So why humility? First, a few other reasons. The life that Paul is going to describe here cannot be a life of self-admiration or pride because that's a contradiction to gratitude. In view of God's mercy, present your bodies as a living sacrifice because of Thanksgiving. Be thankful to the Lord for the undeserved mercy.
Second of all, the Christian life is a life to be lived, to imitate Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior. And Jesus though he was God, he did not think more highly of himself than he ought. And he humbled himself under the hand of God, the Father in obedience when it was the hardest.
In the garden of Gethsemane, what did he say? As he is sweating, blood capillaries are bursting in his face, sweat mixed with blood, under immense pressure, untold pressure. And then ultimately he said, "Father, let this cup pass from me. I don't want to do it." He said, "I don't want to do. I don't want to do what you've called me to do, but it's not my will. Yours be done."
Philippians 2 connects Christ's obedience with Christ's humility. Philippians 2:1-11, one of the preeminent texts about humility, which leads to unity in the church. Verse 1. "So if there's any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."
Jesus is our savior, but he's also our example in life. Thus he says, "Follow me." Finally, the life that Paul is going to describe later in this text is an other centered life. He's saying, "Don't count yourself too high." And then he starts talking about being members of one body and using the gifts that God has given us for what? The building up in the body for others. So he's saying, "If we are going to live a true life of love and service, we need to understand you can't experience love apart from humility, arrogance and the love of others can't live together in a single heart." Because the truly love another person is to be willing to deny self and sacrifice for them. And you'll never be able to do this if there's pride in your heart.
Today is a very special day in the Vezikov household. October 23rd, 2005, 17 years ago, I woke up. I was a 22-year-old kid. I had a job and I had an apartment. I was like, "I am ready for a wife." I woke up and I was sleeping over at my friend's house, Mike's house, and I said, "Mike, you know what, today I'm going to go and I'm going to meet my wife."
And then I got on the car and I drove from DC to Philadelphia and I went to a Slavic church, because I wanted Russian speaking babies. I don't know why. It was deep in my heart. So I go to the Slavic church and there's a gal at the door and she is greeting, she's greeting. She thought I was a pagan because I didn't have a tie on. If you go to Russian church without a tie, you're probably a pagan.
So I go to this church and as soon as I saw her, I was like, love at first sight, baby. Come on. And for me, it took a little convincing for her. I asked for a number and she wouldn't give it to me. I was like, "Oh, playing hard to get, huh?" And then being who I am, I asked my mom who was there to ask her mom for a number and that's how it's all happened.
I remember when we were getting ready to get married, my pastor, he came up to me, he is like, "Jan, do you think you're ready for marriage?" I was like, "Yeah." He's like, "All right, you don't need premarital counseling." I was like, "Yeah, of course I don't." He asked me one question. He was like, "What are your expectations?" I was like, "To have a good time." He's like, "You're all set."
But I remember before marriage, before marriage, I thought I knew it. I was like, "I've got this." And I would tell other people, I'm getting married. I remember this one guy I work with, I told him, "We're getting married," and he's like, "Bro, it's a lot of work." I was like, "That's because you're not a romantic. You don't know how to do it, man."
Then you get married and you realize, "Yeah, it is work because denying yourself on a daily basis is work to saying no to yourself, sacrificing for another is work." And then once you have, if Lord willing, you have children, once we start having children, you begin to understand that to the nth degree, just dimensions of it that it's sacrifice. Well, this is what he's saying. He's like, "If you are truly going to be the person that God has called you to be, if you're going to truly live the life that God has called you to live, which is a life of love, right?" Jesus Christ comes and he says, "The two great commandments that summarize all the commandments are love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength in mind."
That takes humility to love God, obey him, and love your neighbor as yourself. That takes humility. That's why Paul starts here. Also, Paul has spent a great time already explaining that we're guilty sinners. That apart from Christ we deserve the wrath of God forever in a place called hell. It's only because of the love of the Father sending Jesus Christ. And then because of his work on the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit in renewing us and regenerating us, only because of grace. It's only because of grace that we are saved. But still, despite Paul's exposition of election, redemption, regeneration, et cetera, et cetera, he still needs to tell us not to think too highly of ourselves.
If he feels the need to tell us after giving us Romans 1 through 11, not to think too highly of ourselves, that should tell us everything we need to hear that we, you and I must be very proud people indeed. CS Lewis in Mere Christianity, he said that, "Pride is the ultimate in the bottom vice of the human soul. Impurity, anger, greed, hatred, and all the rest are mere flea bites in comparison."
For instance, it's pride that made the devil the devil. It was saying it was the devil that went to God and said, "No, I will not submit to you. Who are you to demand submission for me? I did not ask for the burden of existence. I didn't ask to be born. I didn't ask to be alive. I didn't ask to be created. And you want me to serve you?" Do you feel that? Does that ever arise in your heart? Well, yes. It arises in each one of our hearts. And pride is the root. It's at the root of every single one of the other vices.
Pride is the ugly lie we tell ourselves about our own worth, our own value, virtue, importance about how much we deserve from God, about how much he owes us. And then with people, it's pride that just ask these pestering questions. "Hey, these people ignored me or they're belittling me. They're failing to appreciate me. They're failing to serve me. I need to be served." That's all pride.
It's so fundamental. It's so pervasive. We're so used to it that we usually almost entirely fail to recognize that we're in the grip of pride. Question, when's the last time you repented of pride? When's the last time you said, "God, you know what? Forgive me. I was so self-absorbed today. God forgive me. I was so self-centered. God I wanted glory. I wanted honor. I wanted attention. I wanted to root my identity in something other than the grace of God.
We are as Augustine famously put it, homo incurvatus which is man curved in on himself. Why did he say that? Because God designed us to be outward looking, to look out to God, to look out to others. We have been so twisted that we look entirely at ourselves. We're so used to doing so that we find nothing strange in it. And the Christian, by the new birth, by the power of the Spirit can fight against it, but it does take work.
Pride, I would submit to you, Dear Christian, not fear is the real reason that you, I, we do not share the gospel as boldly as we should. We start thinking, what will people think of me? What if people think I'm stupid? What if people think that I am regressive? What if people stop liking me? And to that I say, "Who cares? Do you really care more about someone's opinion of you than the fate of their eternal soul?"
My friend, I wrestle with this as well. Last night, Caleb, who is our worship director, and he handled some of our media, he sent me a screenshot of comments to our Instagram reels. We do a little sermon reels. The comments were all trash talking. It was haters just hating. He sent it to me and he's like, "Should I delete these?" He sent it and one of the things that the guy said, "I think his pastor is half a brain," something like that.
Then I was like, "That did not feel good." That did not feel good. All of a sudden I'm like defensive. I'm like, "You want to know what my GPA was in college?" And then I'm like, "You know what?" First I wrote... I was like, "Clap back and tell him to come to church and tell it to my face." The keyboard warrior. And then you know what I said, "Lord, thank you. I needed that."
I'm preaching on humility and I was like, "Yes, I needed that. Who cares? Who cares what they think? Who cares? Let the Lord draw who he's going to draw." St. Francis was a powerful man of God. He preached the gospel powerfully. Lots of people came to faith and he got a lot of compliments as he would preach the word. It got to the point where it started getting to his head. So he hired a brother monk to follow him around all the time and to whisper, whispered into his ear of just about how terrible he was.
So just to cancel out the compliment, so someone should go, "Brother St. Francis, that was the most powerful message I've ever heard." And then this guy, he'd be like, "That message stunk." Your introduction, we had no idea where you were going. There were no points. There was no structure. You did not stick the landing. And so a brother came up to me after the service and he's like, "Jan, that sermon stunk." And I said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Praise me to God."
That's that's what he's saying, sober judgment. That's verse 3. Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. So what's he saying? He's saying that God is the one that gives faith. It's God that's the gift giver and he gives as much as he decides. Have you noticed this from Ephesians 2:8-10. Famous text. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of work, so that no one may boast for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
This and this is not your own doing. What's this? What's this referring back to? Is it the grace or the faith? It's both. Both grace is a gift and faith is a gift from the Lord. And it's only through the eyes of faith that we see everything that we have. It comes from the hand of a merciful God and only light of faith that we realize we're wicked people. We have been justified not by works, but through the merits of Christ. And therefore we are to be humble.
It does not hurt to remind ourselves every now and again that God is very good at humbling the proud. And also God is very good at raising up those who are down casting and disheartened. Those who have humbled themselves or those who have been humbled by life.
James 4:10, "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you." 1 Peter 5:5-11. "Likewise you are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
It's fascinating he starts with younger people. Younger people subject yourself to the elders. And he's talking about elders in the church. He's speaking to younger people in... It applies to everybody. We have a hard time submitting ourselves to accountability. And this is why a lot of Christians do not join churches because they don't want to submit to other members. They won't submit to other Christians. They don't want to submit to the elders of the church.
He says, "Be careful, humble yourself because..." And then he brings in Satan out of nowhere. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion. What's tempting us? What's he want to devour us with? It's with our pride. So perhaps it's no wonder at all that Paul would spend significant time here reminding us to humble ourselves. And as he does, he applies the principle of humility to our gifts that all of us, every Christian has gifts that the Lord has given us innate capacity or talents, but there are gifts to serve the Lord.
And as Paul puts it in another place, what do you have that you have not been given? What do you have that you have not received? What makes you to differ? And he talks about these gifts and that's 0.2, think humbly about fellow believers. Verse 4, "For as in one body we have many members. And the members do not all have the same function so though many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
It goes from present your body as a living sacrifice to don't think too highly of yourself humility, to we are members of one body that we belong to one another. What's the connection between those? And I'll try to weave it all together, but first he does bring in the body, the body of Christ, which is the church. The church is the mystical body of Christ. A very prominent theme elsewhere in 1 Corinthians. Paul talks much of this in 1 Corinthians 10:17, "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body for we all partake of the one bread."
In Ephesians, he talks about the church, which is the body, Ephesians 1:23 which is the body, his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church. He's the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."
Yes, God does save us individually, but God does not save us as isolated individuals with individual destinies. Having been united to Jesus Christ where members of Christ's body. He gives us gifts. Those are our gifts and we are to serve the whole community with our unique gifts and abilities just as the different parts of the body serve the whole person. Who's the head? It's Jesus Christ. It's his body. We belong to him. We're in him. So we must submit to him.
And this is the very essence of humility that Paul is describing. Paul is not saying, "I want you to humble yourself with sack cloth and ashes, prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting is incredible for humbling yourself." No, no, no. He's talking about humility in the context of sacrificing.
Giving toward others, serving others in the same way that no part of the body functions, if it's severed from the whole. If you cut off my arm, there is no life in my arm apart from my body. So in the same way each Christian believer is useless if not an active part of the body. For St. Paul, for all of the writers of the epistles, there's no such thing as a Christian who's not a member of the body, who's not a member of the church.
And the application here is so obvious. While we're personally justified by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, we're not justified in isolation from other Christians. We are baptized into the church. We're called from death to life to be part of the larger body which is Christ and we can't exist independently of the body. We need to contribute using our gifts and we need the gifts of others. It's vital for our walk.
Paul cannot even envision any believer, any Christian existing independently of the church as is common in modern America. If you go to other parts of the world, sermons on membership make all the sense in the world. Everyone understands that if you're in the church, if you're a Christian, you're a committed member of the church. For some reason in the United States, I think it's because back in the day we just said no to England and we're like, "Yeah, forget about that."
We're independent. We want freedom. We're individuals. Freedom, America. And we bring that sentiment into the church and we should not, that we are a body of believers. And the public assembly of the body of Christ for worship and to receive God's word and sacraments, it's essential to the Christian life. And it's also a testimony. It's a testimony to the watching world.
This is part of our collective evangelism. We're testifying to the world that God is bringing people together. And this is why the church is called Mosaic. There's a cross in the middle and it's fragments around that cross. It's a mosaic. That's who we are, that God takes these broken people, broken through our own rebellion and sin and God is the one weaving us together, creating a new society without racial and social barriers. They're all removed where each member serves the whole and each member benefits from the contributions of others.
Interdependent, not independent. Interdependent and interconnected. In 1 Corinthians 12, we did this sermon series a few years back called Prodigal Church. You can find the sermons online. But at 1 Corinthians 12, he gives the next position of what this means. He says, "Someone is an eye in the body. Someone is a hand. Someone is an ear and so on and we need each other."
And he says, "If you're an ear, don't say because I'm not an eye, I'm not that important. I don't need to belong here." No, we need ears and we need eyes and we need nose and we need every single body part of the body of Christ. And through this unity in diversity, God reveals his grace to his people and glorifies his name through the church.
In Romans 12, Paul's point is simply the different members of the church have different gifts, all of which have their place. And there can't be any pride because it's all grace. They're gifts. They're called gifts. He doesn't answer here, are these gifts natural? Are they supernatural? Are we born with them and then we cultivate them? Or do they come when you get saved or you get an unction and filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit? He doesn't explain because it doesn't really matter. Because all the gifts, everything we have is by grace.
This simply means that we cannot be something that we are not, nor because some people have visible gifts that they're more important in some way. No. This section, what gifts do you have? They're gifts. You can't take credit for them. They're meant for a blessing to the whole body, not to increase your name or status. And everyone else, Christians have been given other gifts and that there are no gifts that are useless. And it's only when our gifts are used in the service of God, in service of the body, that we can truly grow in the humility that God calls us to.
So question, are you, dear Christian, a member of a local body of believers? And if so, how are you serving the body with what gifts are you serving the body? I ask this because it is counter-cultural even in the American church to practice church membership. We do practice church membership and we talk about church membership. I do get pushback on the church membership part. And people say things like this, "Oh, you're just trying to build up this church. You're trying to grow this church." Yeah. Of course that's my job.
And then second of all, second of all, if we really wanted to grow the church just numerically, if that was the only objective, we would not practice church members. Church membership is so much work. It's so much work. And if you read any church growth books and I've read them all, they never talk about church membership. They don't talk about accountability. They don't talk about leadership structures. They don't talk about any of that regenerative church membership. Why? Because it is a lot hard.
No, no, no. We don't want just numbers, we want a church of regenerative believers serving one another using the gifts that God has given us. So Christian, if you do not seek to become an official member of a local church, you must repent of the sin of pride because that's in the way where you say, "I don't need anybody. I don't need accountability. I don't need community. I don't need to serve. That's all pride." So join the church, serve fellow believers. And once you do, you'll begin to understand just how proud you are because you understand how difficult people are.
I had a gentleman asked me this week, he said, "How's your week? How's a week going?" I go like, "Oh, stressful. I work with people." He's like... Sometimes it is stressful. Part of it because the emotional energy that it takes, the spiritual energy that it takes. I do get moments where I'm like, "God, how can you stand these people?" And then you know what? God responds. It's almost like every time he's like, "Yeah, how can I stand you, dear person." That's every single one of us. We've all had seasons. And even now at our holiest, we're still not as faithful as we should be.
So it's the church that's God's plan for humble sanctification to grow you, stretch you in your humility. We cultivate humility by serving others. We do that by action on behalf of others. As so often in the Bible, the best antidote to a false state of mind is proper and decisive action. God gives us gifts and we are to present the gifts that he has given us to serve him. And the gifts have humility in them only if we use them to the Lord.
So if you're not a member of a church... By the way, we did not plan this. I did not plan a membership sermon a week before our last membership class of the year. I did not plan that. We're not smart. Humility, it's all the Lord. And so next Sunday, we have our... I think it's our last membership class, or it's our last class before our last members meeting. So if you're not a member of this church, if you're not a member of any church, we welcome you to become a member of this church. This is a great church. This is a tremendous church. My favorite church ever. Best church ever.
So next week, one to 3:00 PM, it's a great time. That's the first step to becoming a member. And last thing I'll say here, to be humble, one can attempt to bring his or her heart, soul into humble frame to cultivate a self, a facing spirit, a Christ honoring state of mind. We can do that. But then it's still you. It's still you're focused on you. |Lord, make me humble. Lord a humble, a humble. Me, me, me."
The way he's saying to cultivate humility here is action, to serve others, to act on behalf of God and others. Why does he do that? Because love is a verb. It's not a feeling. God loved, so he gave. It was action. Christ loved me and he gave himself for me feelings usually follow, hopefully follow. And this is what humility is, serving others. And the simplest definition of humility in all of scripture, it's just a life lived for God and others. That's true, humility, a life lived for God and others.
And then that brings us point three, think humbly about our gifts. Verse 6, "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Let us use them. If prophecy and proportion to our faith." The operative verb here is let us use them. We have gifts, let's use the gift. A lot of people ask, "Okay, how do I find out what my gifts are?" And the most helpful framework I have come across is the Venn diagram. You know what those are? There are three circles. Circle, circle, circle and the sweet spot in the middle. That's what we want.
The three circles are ability. Do you have the skills? Because we want to worship God and we want to do it skillfully. Do you have the skills? That's ability. And then the next circle is affinity. Do you like doing it? Do you enjoy doing this? And then opportunity. Is there an opportunity to use these particular gifts in your local body or are there other opportunities? It's not always like that. I remember when I was called to preach the gospel, to preach God's word, to prophesy. It says here. I knew I had the ability, I had the gift of gab. I always knew that. I have great short-term memory. That's how I got through high school and college. I did not have the affinity. I wanted nothing to do with being a pastor or anything like that. God just called me. And for some reason the juxtaposition of the way I look and the pastoral job, for some reason it's highly effective for evangelism in Boston. Because any time anyone asks me, "What do you do?" I say, "I'm a pastor." And they're like, "What?" I don't know why it's so shocking to be partially because I think I look like this like I could probably kill someone with my bare hands, which I think I could. I've never done that.
But God says do it. And then the opportunity, does the opportunity present itself? And then also the internal call of whatever you think God is calling you too has to be confirmed by the external call of the brothers and sisters of the church around you. That's important. The other thing I just want to mention here is that Satan does tempt us with dissatisfaction of our gifts.
So be careful. There's an example in holy scripture where King Uzziah came to the throne Jerusalem when he was 16 years old. He reigns for 52 years and then his monarchy for the most part was marvelous because he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. But in his later years, his status got to his head. He became dissatisfied with being just the king, he wanted to also be the priest.
So he goes to the temple and he starts to offer sacrifice and the priests were horrified. When they tried to stop him, he went until wild rage. At that moment God struck him with leprosy and he dies alone, cut off from the temple and the royal house, and shame, and disgrace. He was discontented with the office that God had given him. Be careful there friends.
Here he begins with prophecy. Prophecy and proportion to our faith. What does he mean by prophecy? A lot of people think prophecy is just telling the future or just understanding what's coming. It's a spirit given ability. In the Old Testament, the supreme agents of revelation were the prophets. And the counterpart to the Old Testament, capital P, prophets in the New Testament is capital A, apostle. There's a parity between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostle.
Both are authoritative agents of revelation. That's not what he's talking about. He's not talking about prophesy as if you're revealing more of God's holy scriptures. No, he's saying prophesy here in the sense that in the Old Testament, the prophets weren't just telling the future foretelling, they were mostly forthtelling, telling people God's word, communicating the word of God to God's people, showing them where their lives were falling short of the word of God and alike manner.
In New Testament, the prophet is one gift interpreting positing the word of God. So in contemporary terms, the prophet is just a preacher, someone who preaches the word of God. As Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word. Be ready in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching."
Romans 12:7 continues, "If service in our serving." Here, the word for service is just meeting physical needs. In particular for widows, orphans and the poor. So some people just have the gift or the burden to help people who have been downtrodden by life. If you're called to serve, then to serve people in their practical needs. And then he says the one who teaches in his teaching, pretty straightforward. You have to teach the faith.
And what's the difference between teaching and prophesying? Teaching is you're just bringing information to people. This is what God's word says. This is what it means. This is what the church has believed through millennia. You're just teaching, informing the mind. It's like in Sunday school. The prophet has a little more edge. It's not here's what Christianity teaches, it's you, sinner are to repent of your sinner or you're going to hell for eternity. So why won't you accept the grace of Jesus Christ, you wicked sinner? And now you're a saint. Praise be to God.
That's kind of like a prophecy. I'm not really good at it. I'm still working on it little by little. So if you teach... He says teach. If you prophesy, you prophesy. And then verse 8, the one who exhorts in his exhortation some. What's exhortation? Exhortation is, I'm just telling you what you know. I'm just reminding you what you know. And some people are just really good at this. I have an uncle who's just gifted in exhortation.
Every once in a while he calls me up and he's like, "Jan, you were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. His Holy Spirit is upon your anointing." And I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all this." He's like, "Fight the good fight. Remain faithful." I'm like, "Yeah, yeah." So exhortation it's an important gift because it encourages us in a way to follow the Lord. So if you see brothers and sisters in community group or at church and need some exhortation, need some encouragement, do it and do it lovingly.
Then he continues the one who contributes in generosity. So everyone has an obligation to give, but some really have a gift for it. And they give, and if so, if you have this gift, give generously with liberality. And there are people who go above and beyond. They give a lot more than required and they do it cheerfully. And nobody wants to get a gift from a sour puss who can't stand to be separated from his or her money. God doesn't want such gifts.
What scripture does teach that God loves a cheerful giver. Praise be to God for all the generous givers at this church. I do want to emphasize that because we live in one of the, if not the most expensive place to do minister, to do church work. And through the years God has sent a very generous gospel patrons and we pray for more. If you have the gift of generosity, praise be to God that you are here and you're here in the nick of time.
I just want to explain how expensive this place is. Just to explain. You know how much it costs us to lease this space for half a day on Sundays? You know how much? 4G's, 4G's. A brother came up to me after the service. He's like, "What does G's mean?" Like thousands, $4,000. Every single Sunday.
My first car in high school was an Audi 80. It cost me $3,000 cash. So every Sunday I'm like, "Today is an Audi with rims every Sunday. Today is an Audi with a subwoofer every Sunday." But we're thankful to be here and we are praying to buy some real estate because something about being in the city... Before people really want to get to know you and be friends, they always ask, "Do you rent or do you own?"
And I know why because I've been here for 13 years and it's sad to see people go. So we want to be rooted here. We'd like to buy a worship space. Space like this probably be a hundred mil. So we are thinking more humbly. We're going to ... We just like some office space. We want to buy some office space. We got eight people on staff. There's eight of us now by God's grace. So we started this campaign, You can find all the information there.
We started last December. We were ready. But by your generosity and God's grace, raised $400,000. Praise be to God. And then this week we met with a banker. Get charismatic. The Lord deserves it. And this week we met with a banker and we're trying to qualify for a half a million dollar loan that brings $900,000. The properties that we're looking at for office space around 1.2 million. I know if you're like from a place like... Let's pick something, Nebraska.
If you're from Nebraska and you're like, "One point... You're using decimals and M's? That's crazy." But I'm like, "That's because you're in Nebraska. Move here, get an apartment, a little studio basement, apartment in Allston, live here for a couple of years, and then you'll see, it's expensive." We have a goal of raising $300,000. We need lots of generous givers. If that's you, praise be to God.
Leadership. He says, "If you lead, the one who leads with zeal, if a gifted leader is to be followed, he or she better know which way they're going." And you have to lead with zeal because it's zeal that inspires people to do things that they've never done before, to challenge people, to motivate people. And then he ends with the one who does acts of mercy with cheerfulness.
Some people are just incredible peacemakers. They have the gift of mercy where two parties antagonistic toward each other. You come in, you throw a little counseling through mercy, there's peace. And mercy used to be dispensed with cheerfulness. Why? What's the connection between mercy and cheer... I know why. Because if you have this... It's not a gift for me. So it's super exhausting.
I can do this a little... Even this morning, my daughter Milana had a meltdown on the way here. I'm trying to do the mercy. I'm like, "I'm going to go preach. It's a lot easier." But for some people, it's natural, but still it's work, especially with emotional energy. So he says to do it with cheerfulness.
A few years back, I was in an Uber and this is my conclusion. I'm going to try to stick the landing. I was in Uber and I get picked up in Brighton. I'm going back to Brookline. The driver picks me up and immediately I was like, "This guy is a talker. He's a talker." He warns me, he's like, "I'm warning you, I am chatty because I used to work as a psychiatrist for decades."
I was like, "Whoa, you got a psychiatrist and a pastor in one car. That's going to make for some interesting conversation." So we started chatting. Of all the profound wisdom he shared, this is what resonated the most and stuck with me. He had worked for decades trying to help people and he realized that these people didn't need the drugs that he was giving them. He said, "What they needed more than anything was friendship, love, and community."
And he said this, he said, "Look, what I did was important, but what you are doing by working to create a true community where people are bound by genuine love is infinitely more important." And that's what I want to encourage you with, dear Mosaic. What you're doing matters far more than you realize. You're not just impacting people's physical lives, you are impacting their souls and their eternities. We're creating the image of the triune God, the Trinity, three persons.
God is a God of humility. He's glorious. Humility in that each of the persons of the Trinity defers to the other. The Father wants to glorify the son. The son wants to glorify Father. The Holy Spirit wants to glorify all three. And what's important is, in this community, that is the trinity. There's perfect love and perfect harmony because there's perfect humility.
We're created by this triune God and his image. We're created for community. What's in the way? It's our pride and it's our sin. Therefore, we need the cross of Jesus Christ, the gospel of Christ, which binds us vertically with God the Father. And once we receive grace from God the Father, he fills our hearts with love, a real love for real people, creating meaningful horizontal binds that we all desperately need. And that's God's heart for the church and that's God's heart for our church. Praise be to God.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the time, the holy scriptures, the rich time and a rich text. We thank you for it. Holy Spirit, we do pray that you inspire us, exhort us through this text. Help us truly live this text out. Help us be a church that is a Romans 12 church, a church where each member counts others more significant than themselves, just like Christ. Jesus, we thank you for the gift of salvation, the gift of grace, the gift of mercy, and we pray that you make us to people who live in a man worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Jesus, we thank you that you gave your body for us, broken for us. And in response, you call us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice for you and in service to the body, the church, the body of Christ. And we pray all this in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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