“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8)
Once again, the Holy Spirit reminds His people that grace, not ability, is the channel of the Christian's gifts. The gift of prophecy as it pertains to foretelling would have been very necessary in the early church. The canon was not yet complete; therefore, the Holy Spirit enabled certain to prophesy in the sense of prediction and exegesis of truth not yet written down and preserved. This word can also carry with it the idea of forthtelling. This is simply the exposition of God's word. Today, it is simply called preaching. This gift of proclaiming God's word is vital, but is often neglected and substituted for activities and entertainment. The disregard of this gift is always a sign of apostasy (II Timothy 4:3-4).
The word for ministry means a waiting at tables. Though some are better at such service than others, this particular area of ministry is well within the grasp of anyone and is just as sanctioned by God as is the exposition of His word.
Teaching and preaching are closely related but are not necessarily the same. A man may be able to proclaim truth but not have a true gift to teach others. Teaching is usually a bit less formal and involves a burning desire to impart values to others through sound exegesis of Scripture. It is a position clearly given by God for the edification of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Exhortation means a calling alongside. This gift is vital for the comforting of God's people. Some saints can comfort and encourage in a way that others cannot. This calling alongside need not be limited to words of comfort. The one who truly values exhortation may call another alongside for the purpose of compassionate rebuke. Everyone enjoys hearing words of encouragement; therefore, this gift is often viewed as offering nothing but soft words; however, words of rebuke are also necessary (Psalm 141:5), and are not to be neglected by the one who wishes to truly exercise this gift to its fullest extent.
The one who gives to another is encouraged to do it with simplicity. This word means singularity or sincerity. When a man gives, it should be for the purpose of pleasing God. Giving is often done for personal gain or recognition. These motives are wicked. In fact, any motive outside of a desire to please God is wicked. Concerning giving, a man's motives may be tested by observing his reaction when his gift is not recognized, appreciated, or made known to others. A man is truly giving in simplicity when he puts down the desire to let others know what he has done, as Jesus said, “... let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Matthew 6:3).”
Structure and order are necessary. Rulers within the body of Christ are important; therefore, they are commanded to rule with diligence. Laziness has no place in the one who has been given the responsibility of leadership. All too often, church leadership is characterized by obesity, apathy, pride, foolishness, and severe immaturity. Such behaviors are not fruits of the Spirit, and they certainly do not compliment diligence. Diligence is first necessary in the life of the one ruling, lest he be found to be unfit for the task (I Corinthians 9:27). It also necessary for the sake of the flock. False doctrine and false teachers are always at the door step, waiting to devour the simple and the needy.
Mercy is to be shown by all of God's people, and it is to be shown with a good attitude. The word for cheerfulness is the same Greek word from which hilarity is derived. As God delights in showing mercy to mankind, so should God's people delight in passing on the same mercy of which they have been partakers.
It should be noted that all of these gifts visibly edify all. None are selfish. None profit just one person. None are naturally inherent to human nature, and all compliment the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. None work confusion, turmoil, strife, lust, rebellion or death, and none are misleading.
All are a work of grace.