God can work in our lives directly (for example, Galatians 1:11-12). He does not depend on the actions of any person. However, he often chooses to use his people when he shows his kindness to other people. So, God works in and through his people. That is like a master who directs his servants in their work. The master may choose to show his kindness through the actions of his servants (Luke 14:21-24).
In Romans 12:6, Paul uses the words ‘grace’ and ‘gifts’. In the original language (Greek), the two words are very similar, in fact different forms of the same word. Grace means the kindness that God shows to us. God’s gifts are the ways that God shows his kindness to other people through our lives.
In verses 6 to 8, Paul gives examples of some of the ways that God does that. Some of these ‘gifts’ are supernatural, in other words, they cannot happen by natural means. We can only do these things if the Holy Spirit directs us to do them. For example, a prophecy is a message from God. We can only speak such a message if God, by his Spirit, gives us that message. It does not come from our own thoughts or our imagination.
However, Paul mentions other ‘gifts’ that may not be supernatural. Some of these we might describe as skills, for example, the skill to teach the Bible. Others of these are simply opportunities. If we can afford it, we can give to help poor people. Whether supernatural or not, God is using us in these ways to show his kindness to people.
In all these matters, Paul warns us not to go beyond our faith (belief and trust in God). We must always make sure that our belief and trust in God remain strong. The danger is that we can start to depend on ourselves, or on other people, and not to depend on God.
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© 2018, Keith Simons.