“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

There is much talk about diversity these days. We would do well to review God’s perspective on diversity and its purpose in the local church in order to keep balanced heads in a world gone crazy. God uses the human body as an illustration of the beauty of diversity under unity. Every part of the body shares the same DNA ensuring unity while freeing diversity, just as allegiance to our constitution has served for over 200 years to unite divergent individuals in the U.S. of A. Without faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord dealt by the gracious hand of God there is no DNA for unity in the local church. All unity and serviceability in the body of Christ begins with Him! Paul uses two verses out of six to reinforce this fact (verses 4–5).

The chapter begins with the claim Christ has on every believer—we are saved to serve, to present ourselves as a living sacrifice with a transformed mind, fulfilling the will of God. No part of the human body has supremacy over any other, or can claim as its right survival over any other part. Each part works in concert with the others so that the body will not only survive, but thrive, spurred on with what that part contributes to the welfare of the whole body. Every unique contribution of each individual part is enabled by the commonly shared DNA, and it enhances the purpose of the whole body “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another”(1 Corinthians 10:17, 33; 12:20, 27; Ephesians 4:12, 25).

The context of our verse leads to a consideration of the gifts, “powers here not of the extraordinary kind, but the ordinary kind, such as are lasting.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Bible) This late in the canonical record, and in keeping with progressive revelation, these differing gifts, talents, or capacities are made evident to both the individual and the body of believers in service together. Our text requires that no one individual use his talents to elevate himself above other saints but to think “soberly.” Our usefulness and abilities are measured by God and no other. Think in such a way as to be sober-minded in this. Regardless of what others may say or think, God made you as He intended. See that you do not rob God or the body of Christ by either under or overestimating yourself (or any other brother). As our verse states, faith becomes the clear-eyed lens through which we must view the world of men and the mission field within our reach. Faith becomes the regulator of the sober-minded man and the DNA of church diversity under unity.

The practical outworking of this sober minded thinking is found in verses 6–8. A thoughtful review of the various talents brings up some interesting observations. First, the list is one of ordinary functions in a local church yet the talents are gifts to the body. Second, the list is such that every member of the body can be active in one or more of the seven, but the talents are primarily the function of leadership in the church (notice “leading” comes after “giving” in the list). As in all things concerning church leadership, those in leadership serve as an example to the whole body for the “body life” of the church. These quality talents become the mission and the labor of the church while on earth. Every member, by faith, needs to lend his strength, fortified with diligence and acting with industry, so that the body may, by God’s grace, thrive. Let’s review the talents:

  • Prophecy—forthtelling truth (like the prophets and teachers of Acts 13:1) according to the measure of faith, for they better not speak what they do not believe (2 Corinthians 4:13–14)—ministry of proclamation of truth.
  • Ministrydiakonia (deaconing), a servant’s heart, as in a servant in his activity—ministry of ministering to needs.
  • Teaching—didactic conveyance of facts and instruction—ministry of communicating maturity.
  • Exhortationparaklete (coming alongside) to console—ministry of encouragement.
  • Giving—of the church’s money with simplicity (with no partiality, no secondary motives, with singleness of heart)—ministry of generosity.
  • Leadingprohistemi (to stand before), with eager and earnest diligence by example and for guidance—ministry of trusting confidence in God.
  • Mercy—response to the misery of others with practical help spreading cheer—ministry of compassion.

For the health of your local church, for the body of Christ of which you are a member, employ yourself humbly, diligently doing God’s work. Allow the faith you have received to regulate your thinking. It is a beautiful thing for the world to see true diversity functioning within unity in Christ. To whom are you ministering according to the grace you have received from Christ? Trust and obey.