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.Romans 12:1-6
Many people in the church feel like they don’t fit in. That ought not be the case. In reality, every part, that is every member of a church, does fit in. The church is like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. It takes quite a while to figure out where some parts belong. But they do belong and if you get frustrated thinking that some part doesn’t fit and you throw it away, the puzzle will never be complete. 1
Why does it seem like some people don’t fit? My experience tells me there are a few possible reasons. Often a church is so sinfully exclusive that it is like a country club that only allows a certain class of the community to belong. That is a church that needs a great deal of repentance.
Sometimes we don’t feel like we fit because we are still so much in the world that we aren’t comfortable around serious disciples of Christ. We are still too polluted with sin to fit in. The church may be very welcoming, but we are still controlled too much by the present evil age to fit in.
Spiritual gifts, whichever category, are meant to communicate the life and love of Jesus to both the fellow members of the body of Christ and to the world. Discovering how God has distributed his gifts to us enables us to find out how we fit in. There are no extraneous parts to the body of Christ. We are all essential to God’s design demonstrating the fullness of Christ in the world. The primary exhortation of this section of Romans 12 is to give ourselves to our primary gift which God has given to us. We aren’t all to do everything and we aren’t to do what someone else is gifted to do. Your individual contribution to the body if unique and can be done by no one else. So, if you don’t give yourself to your gift, you are depriving the body of Christ of an essential nutrient so to speak.
This principle is covered in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 as well as here in Romans 12.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.Ephesians 4:15-16
Notice “whole body,” “every joint,” “each part.” When all of these parts are working properly, the body builds itself up in love. No outside consultants are needed. When the parts of the body are healthy and functioning as designed, the body builds itself up in love.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-26
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Understanding how God has uniquely given you your Spiritual gifts is crucial to your fulfillment as a member of the body of Christ. To the extent that you either don’t know what gifts God has given to you or to the extent that you choose to ignore those gifts, the church is weakened rather than strengthened.
I always like to leave on a positive note, so let me encourage you with this thought. God has made you unique, he has gifted you uniquely, no one else can make the same contribution to the church that you can make. That means that you are special. God has his own design just for you. And that design calls for you to fit in and work properly with the rest of the body. You are not meant to be alone, but meant to be part of the body of Christ and participating in the building up of the body in love. Even if you don’t yet know what that gifting is, it is there and hopefully with this series of articles you will have a better idea of what special sauce God has cooked you in.