Let’s look at two categories of spiritual gifts mentioned in our text. We will call them speaking and serving gifts, or gifts given to expound the Word of God, and gifts given to extend the work of God.
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. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage . . . (Romans 12:6-8)
These are the gifts given to expound the Word of God. You might call them the speaking gifts. The first deals with the inspiration of truth. It is the gift of prophesying. Prophecy is not foretelling future events, it is a forth-telling of the mind of God. Let me explain what I mean. The prophetic gift illuminates the Word of God and gives us a living word for the here and now. Many times, the prophetic word will come as you are listening to the Word of God being expounded or taught. The Holy Spirit will quicken that Word, and through the preacher speak directly to your heart. Other times, as you pray, God will place an impression on your heart. Other times someone may give you a word of prophecy. You should always evaluate these by the Bible, but you should always be open to hear. Through prophecy, God speaks a living, fresh word to us. This prophetic word will always encourage and uplift you—it will also confirm what God has already spoken to you.
The next gift is serving or ministry as the King Jim’s Version translates it. Ministry is service—the incarnation of truth. We get our word deacon from this same word. A deacon is a servant in the Church. Everybody can deaconize. You can serve as an usher; cut the grass; direct traffic; help park cars; set up tables; take a meal to someone’s house. We are all called to serve one another.
The next gift is the gift of teaching—the interpretation of truth. Teaching is the imparting of knowledge about the Scriptures to the human mind. It is different from preaching somewhat, in that preaching speaks to the heart while teaching speaks to the mind. Teaching informs while preaching moves the will. I believe this gift is given to many more Christians than realize it. As you are instructed in the Word of God and make the Word of God a part of your daily living, then you can teach someone else who does not know as much as you know. Now, a good teacher will give himself or herself to a diligent study of the Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture, using sound methods of exegesis, hermeneutics, homiletics, analysis and synthesis. We need excellence in teaching. However, not every teacher needs to be in front of a class. Effective teaching can take place one-on-one.
The final gift in this section emphasizes the intention of truth. It is the gift of encouraging. There is an illustration of this gift in the Scriptures in the life of Barnabas. He was called “the son of encouragement.” That’s what the name Barnabas means. Although his real name was Joseph, I’ll bet no one called him Joe. I bet they called him Barney. He was the kind of guy that you would probably find with his arm over someone’s shoulder, encouraging, comforting, urging him on. What a gift! We have such a need for this gift in the Church. Wouldn’t you like to be a son or daughter of encouragement? Some people are so discouraging. Some are so down in the mouth, you ask them how they are doing and they will give you an organ recital, the physical kind. It just does not seem like they are happy unless they are miserable. They make everybody else miserable, too. We need encouragers—people who lift up weary hands, people who not only tell you that you can do it, but will help you get the job done. This is the intention of truth, to motivate us to be all we can be for Jesus Christ.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome