In chapter 12:1,2 we see that Christian service and living must begin with personal dedication to the Lord. The person who fails is one who has not surrendered himself completely to Christ. In daily yielding our bodies to Him, having our minds renewed by the Word, and surrendering our wills through prayer and obedience, Christians can become strong in the area of service for the Lord. We, as Christians, are either conformers, living for and like the world, or transformers, daily becoming more like Christ. II Corinthians 3:18 tells us we are transformed (transfigured) as we allow the Spirit of God to reveal Christ through the Word of God to us. It is only when the believer is thus dedicated to the Lord that he can know the will of God for his life.
Chapters 12--16 could be entitled "service" chapters. At the end of these chapters Paul tells us how to put our Christian learning into practice. True Christian service and living must begin with personal dedication to the Lord, and then an honest evaluation of the spiritual gifts the believer possesses. Paul tells us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than our spiritual gifts warrant. If a man is called to pastor, God will reveal it as he uses his gifts in the assembly. Our gifts differ, but they all come from the Spirit and are to be used for the glory of God. Just as we are saved "by grace, through faith," so we are to exercise our spiritual gifts according to the measure of faith and according to the grace He gives us. Chapter 12 also lists the seven basic ministries. Every person fits into one of these seven ministries. In which category are you? Prophecy, defined in I Corinthians 14:3; ministry, which is literally "deaconing," and may refer to that office; teaching, according to II Timothy 2:1,2 is very important; exhorting, which suggests urging people to serve the Lord and be faithful to Him; giving, which should be done in singleness of heart, out of pure motives; ruling, pertaining to the government of the local church (I Timothy 3:4,12); and showing mercy, the personal ministry to those in need.
The best Christian is a Christian who is serving God. Chapter 13 indicates that the best citizen is a Christian citizen. Though the church should not get involved in politics, the individual believer is certainly to use his God-given privileges as a citizen.
Though Christians have been called out of this world, according to John 15:18, they are still responsible to the authority that is set over them. Men like Joseph and Daniel were able to perform wonderful ministries, even in heathen governments. The examples given to us by such men should be followed by us today. To disobey or resist the authority over us is to encourage judgment. Government authorities are agents of God for good, and good citizenship is required of all Christians.
Chapter 14 deals with the problems of questionable things in the lives of Christians. In our churches today we have differences of opinion concerning questionable practices, such as worldly amusements, and Paul tells us how to face and solve those differences. We are not given a list of rules, but Paul does lay down basic principles that Christians can follow. One way a person can tell whether something is right or wrong is by asking himself the question, "Am I fully convinced?" If there is ever conviction against a thing, then it is definitely wrong! Another question that can be asked is, "Am I doing this as unto the Lord?" If God cannot be glorified in what you are doing, then it is wrong! Another question is, "Will it stand the test of the Judgment Seat of Christ?" All Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and will give an account of what they did in the flesh. Another question, and a very important one, is, "Am I causing others to stumble?" "When I involve myself in things that are questionable, or things I am not sure of, will some other Christian see me and will I become a stumblingblock to them?" Another question, "Am I doing this completely by faith?" If there is any doubt, then we are lacking faith, and that is sin. Finally, "Am I pleasing myself, or others?".
When questionable things arise, use these questions to evaluate your true intentions. After honestly checking yourself on each question, I believe your actions and deeds will meet God's test.
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