Highlights from v. 1-2
We saw from v. 1 that Paul, inspired by God the Holy Spirit, is “urgently appealing” to us to make a deliberate “choice” to be committed to a life determined by the gospel.
Moreover, our choice to “be” a “living sacrifice” is both a one-time response (saved) and a lifelong process of responses (being saved).
In addition , v. 2 highlights the necessity of a deliberate maintenance of our supernatural commitment, lest we stumble in this world.
By the power of God we “refuse to be conformed” to the pattern of this world, and adhere to “being transformed” throughout our Christ life.
To “renew our mind” means to keep remembering our original commitment to Christ when He called us by grace. Furthermore, we are “dependent” on God the Holy Spirit through this this “daily renewal process.”
When we talk about the “will of God,” what can we say for certain God’s will is for all believers?
1. Holiness of life
2. Completeness of dedication
How is my pursuit of holiness through obedience? Do I take every thought captive? Have I drifted off the alter? Yes!
However, am I finding that the “drift” is short lived and my recall, ability to yield, prompting of the Spirit, to be a “living sacrifice” consecrated and holy to God comes quickly?
Do I find myself crying out to God in praise and worship all the time in my mind? Do I desire that supernatural renewal process every day? Holy Spirit fall afresh on me!
Does God’s specific will differ for each one of us in service to the body? Is this determined by our gifts?
v. 3 Paul says, “”…by the grace given me…” Critical for us to understand that all that we are in Christ, what we do, our insights, gifts, supernatural power to overcome, everything related to our unique existence is because of God’s grace!
James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Paul is preparing the way to discuss spiritual gifts: “I say to every one of you” highlights that every genuinely transformed believer has some spiritual gift? Cf. 1 Peter 4:10
How should we view ourselves as we apply and engage in using our God given gifts? What does this look like in our day to day lives in relationships? Cf. Phil 2
In light of sin (total depravity) even spiritual gifts can manifest a prideful and arrogant disposition. Paul warns against pride. He exhorts us to “think of yourself with sober judgment…”
Does humility allows us to have a more accurate self -assessment?
What does it mean to have sober judgment? To be in touch with reality?
v. 3b What is the gauge to allow us to accurately assess ourselves, hence to have sober judgment?
It is “…the ‘measure of faith’ God has given you.”
According to Harrison (1976) “faith” here in this context is “what the Christian exercises.” It is a subjective/experiential process given by God.
Harrison quotes Cranfield (1962) “understanding ‘measure’ in the sense of standard, takes the phrase to mean that one’s faith should provide the basis for a true estimation of himself, since it reveals that he, along with other believers, is dependent on the saving mercy of God in Christ.” Moreover,
“Godet understands ‘measure’ in the sense of degree.” “This gift, the measure of the action to which we are called, is the divine limit which the Christian’s renewed mind should discern, and by which he should regulate his aspirations in regard to the part he has to play in the church.”
Therefore, we see that “faith” in this context allows humble believer’s to grasp the nature of their spiritual gifts and exercise them appropriately with confidence.
Do we all have the ability or “gift” at least in some measure or degree to show mercy? Be an encourager? To serve others?
v. 4-5 There is no “Lone Ranger Christianity.” Paul is illustrating we need each other by metaphor: one body and many members.
Harrison(1976) highlights three things from these verses:
1. Unity of the body with corresponding,
2. Diversity in our functioning, and
3. Mutuality of the various members—“each member belongs to all the others.”
Does this take the focus of “my” gift and allow for an appreciation for other people and the gift/s God gave them to exercise?
v. 6-8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
Paul is talking about supernatural gifts enabled by the Holy Spirit. The variety of gifts speaks to the diverse needs in the Christian community and God allowing every believer to share in ministry. Cf, 1 Cor 12:6; Eph 4:7
This list of spiritual gifts was not intended to be exhaustive. Paul is emphasizing the need for exercising our gifts and in the right way. Therefore,
How do we exercise our gifts? “…in proportion to his faith.”
6. Having gifts, etc. Paul speaks not now simply of cherishing among ourselves brotherly love, but commends humility, which is the best moderator of our whole life. Every one desires to have so much himself, so as not to need any help from others; but the bond of mutual communication is this, that no one has sufficient for himself, but is constrained to borrow from others. I admit, then that the society of the godly cannot exist, except when each one is content with his own measure, and imparts to others the gifts which he has received, and allows himself by turns to be assisted by the gifts of others.
Whether prophecy, etc. By now bringing forward some examples, he shows how every one in his place, or as it were in occupying his station, ought to be engaged. For all gifts have their own defined limits, and to depart from them is to mar the gifts themselves. But the passage appears somewhat confused; we may yet arrange it in this manner, “Let him who has prophecy, test it by the analogy of faith; let him in the ministry discharge it in teaching,”  etc. They who will keep this end in view, will rightly preserve themselves within their own limits. (biblos.com)
Pett(online)said in response to v. 3 and 6b respectively:
“The consequence of being transformed by the renewing of our mind is that we begin to look at everything differently. The arrogance of this world is replaced by a new humility, as we recognise that we have moved into a different sphere. Thus the Christian is circumspect in his attitude and behaviour towards his brothers and sisters in Christ, recognising in all humility his great need to serve God only up to the level of his faith. Great gifts do not make great Christians unless they are exercised in accordance with true faith given by God. If our gifts are not utilised in total dependence on God then they can be a hindrance rather than a benefit.”
6b “It is faith in a revealed body of truth. So the prophet is both not to go beyond his own spiritual ability, and beyond the true knowledge which results from truly believing in what has been revealed. In other words, beyond the teaching which is in accordance with the traditions of the Apostles as maintained within the early church and finally laid down in the New Testament.”
In closing, brief comments on the common gifts presented:
Prophecy: foretell means to predict, and forthtell means speak clearly what has already been told. The forthtelling brings about conviction and a building up. Cf. 1 Cor 14:3, 31
Serving: Those able to help others in the body of Christ. Cf. 1 Cor 12:28
Gift of Teaching: Harrision (1976) said, “Probably the aim in teaching was to give help in the area of Christian living rather than formal instruction in doctrine, even though it must be granted that the latter is needed as a foundation for the former.”
Encouraging: could be translated encouragement, exhortation, or comfort depending on context. Here exhortation appears to be the best fit:
Exhortation is the ability to stir fellow Christians up to obedience and encourage their daily life in Christ.
Contributing to the needs of others is a gift of “spontaneous private benevolence.” Cf. 1 John 3:17-18:
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
In contrast to “serving” Harrison (1976) said, “…public distribution of aid by the church to its needy.” “Let him give ‘with simplicity’” is probably a better translation, i.e., “singleness of heart, free of mixed motives, without regret (over having given so much), God looks at the heart!
Leadership: the gift to carry out ministry diligently.
Showing mercy: ministering to the sick and needy in a cheerful spontaneous manner that conveys blessing. Harrison quoted Way (1926) who said, “If you come with sympathy to sorrow bring God’s sunlight in your face.”
Biblos.com (Calvin’s Commentary)
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1976) F.E. Gaebelein (ed.)
NIV Study Bible (1984).