One Body in Christ Rom. 12:3-21 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The body of Christ is comprised of every person who is saved. Like our physical bodies, we are one body in Christ, though we are many members. In the body of Christ, members have:
Different offices – Rom 12:3-5 – just like our physical bodies are made up of a variety of members performing different functions, even so the body of Christ is made up of a variety of members in different offices [1 Cor 12:12-27] and yet is one body. Because we all have different offices, it is easy for some members to “think” of themselves as better than others [Rom 12:3]. What they do goes to their heads. Notice that Paul uses the word “think” three times in verse 3.
We must remember three things that will keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves. First, there is only one head, the Lord Jesus Christ [Eph 1:22-23]. Second, we are only capable of doing what we do because of “the measure of faith” God has dealt to us [Rom 12:3]. So, we can’t take any credit for doing or being better than others in this one body. And we are all “members one of another,” [Rom 12:5]; therefore, we can’t get along in one body without each other.
Different gifts – Rom 12:6-8 – these gifts operate by the grace and faith that are given to us by the Lord. When members try to do these things in their own capacities or by their own means they fail. They may look successful to some but they are a failure to the Lord and to the body. As you grow spiritually and as you attend to the needs of the body faithfully, your gift will become apparent. As we rely upon the grace of God and the measure of faith, we perform the duties of our gifts and thereby strengthen and grow this one body. The gifts include:
- Prophecy – this is preaching [1 Cor 14:22-25; 2 Pet 1:19-21] primarily performed by pastors.
- Ministry – this is any service to the needs of the body and the members of the body in particular [like Acts 6:3].
- Teaching – this is done in our church by Sunday school teachers and Bible club workers.
- Exhortation – this is urging, encouraging and warning the body, often done by evangelists today. But within the church there are great encouragers; they keep others from being overwhelmed by trouble.
- Giving – while all members give, there are some who are “gifted” in giving. They give bountifully, cheerfully and simply.
- Ruling – these are leaders in various ministries of the church, whose service is an extension of the pastor’s ministry.
- Shewing mercy – there are some who are genuinely gifted in mercy. They show mercy cheerfully and balance those in the body who more rigidly maintain justice. The body needs both.
The same commandments – Rom 12:9-21 – in the remainder of the chapter, Paul lists the “Christian” commandments. These are short, specific instructions to the members of the body that keep the members in line and the body strong and healthy. We are commanded to:
- Love without dissimulation – we are to genuinely love, not pretend to love.
- Abhor evil – like the Lord, we are to hate evil [Prov 8:13].
- Cleave to good – we are to hold fast that which is good [1 Thes 5:21]. When you let it go you rarely get it back. Good music and sound doctrine are good examples.
- Be kindly affectioned – charity is the bond of perfectness [Col 3:14]. Preferring one another keeps one body joined together and compacted [Eph 4:16].
- Not be slothful in business – we are to serve the Lord with a fervent spirit [Eph 6:5-8].
- Rejoice, be patient and pray – according to Acts 14:22 we must endure tribulation. We get through it prayerfully, take it patiently, and rejoice in the meantime through hope.
- Distribute goods and be hospitable – we are to meet each other’s needs and be friendly and kind toward guests.
- Bless our persecutors – this comes from Matt 5:43-48. You’ll have a greater affect by blessing than you will by cursing.
- Be compassionate – rejoice when others are rejoicing and weep when others are weeping.
- Be Christ-minded – we are to be like-minded, not high-minded and conceited [Phil 2:5]. One body should think like its head.
- Not retaliate – we are to take evil patiently [1 Pet 2:19-23].
- Be honest – we are to abstain from all appearance of evil [1 Thes 5:22].
- Live peaceably with all men – as much as possible, have grace with each other.
- Give place to wrath – we are not to avenge ourselves; that’s the Lord’s job. We are to be kind to our enemies and overcome evil with good.
Conclusion: in this chapter we recognize that while we are very different, we are members of one body. To the extent we each do our jobs well, the body functions well. And the more grace we have with and the more love we have toward each other, the more compacted the body is. Following Paul’s commands keeps the devil from dividing the body and ruining the work.