Romans chapter 12 verses 9 to 13 - When Gift is not Enough - J Stewart Gillespie 

Romans chapter 12 verses 9 to 13 - When Gift is not Enough - J Stewart Gillespie

A strange thought: 'when gift is not enough' 

Is this: 

  • Ingratitude? 
  • Unthankfulness? 
  • Ungratefulness? 
  • Greediness? 
  • Unbelief? 

Following on from the themes previously noted of: 

  • Fragrance of Sacrifice (12:1-2) – personal consecration 
  • Fellowship of Saints (12:3-8) – use of spiritual gifts 
  • Fruitfulness in Spirit (12:9-21) 

In vs 3 to 8 we come to a section that deals with Christians collectively 

We could refer to that collective group of Christians as: 

  1. The Church : 'ekklesia' – called out company – where we came from 
  2. The Bride of Christ – where we are going to 
  3. The Building – Holy Temple – what God is doing with us 
  4. Lampstands – how God is shinning from us 

But in these verses none of these titles or pictures is used, rather believers collectively are viewed as the body of Christ. 

As viewed as the body we see emphasised: 

Not so much that we are called out 'ekklesia' but that we are called together (12:5) 
Not so much that we are build together for Christ to dwell in us but rather that we are in Christ (12:5) 
Not so much that like the Bride we shall one day be united together with Christ but rather emphasising the present experience of His life in us. 
Not only pointing to our connection with Christ, as does the lampstand, but to our connection with one another (12:15). 

So the picture of the body is particularly suitable for this presentation of the 7 spiritual gifts (12:6-8) – to be used for our good, our encouragement (exhortation) and for His Glory. 

In this picture of the body we notice: 

  1. The Mind (12:3) – renewed (cf. 12:2) 
  2. The Members (12:4-5) 
  3. The Ministry (12:6-8) 

With one over arching truth in verses 3 to 8 that: 

The gift given in grace (12:6) cannot function apart from Grace! 

The gift given in grace cannot operate independent of the grace that gives the gift (12:3,6) 

If you doubt this truth, consider the story of Romans; the greatest exposition of t 

he Gospel ever given! Consider the depths plumbed and the heights reached in spiritual matters in Romans: 

  • Mans Sin (chps 1-3) 
  • Gods Salvation (chps 3 to 5) 
  • Sovereign Grace (chp 5) 
  • Sanctification (chps 6 to 8) 
  • Struggle with the flesh (chp 7) 
  • Spirit led life (chp 8) 
  • Sanctuary experience (chp 8) 
  • Sovereign Election (chp 9) 

Yet after teaching and sharing all of these great truths, the saints are divided over mince and tatties (chapter 14)! 

It is tragically possible for gifted men, operating and functioning amongst the people of God but acting apart from the Grace of God to: 

Divide the Saints (14:1) 
Despise the Saints (14:3,10) 
Discourage the Saints (14:13,21) 
Destroy the Saints (14:15,20) 

It doesn't really concern us too much the WHAT of the divisions at Rome! 

The WHAT will differ from place to place. 

What really concerns us is the WHY of what went wrong! 

The WHY is answered in this: that these men were gifted but not gracious. 

These men were gifted but not gracious. 

Were they gifted at all? 

Trying to teach (14:1) 
Trying to rule (14:3-4) 

We may be gifted, but in the exercise of every spiritual gift we must draw afresh from the grace that gave that gift, fresh supplies from the rich resources that are ours in Christ. 

God did not gift His servants to become independent practitioners of that gift. 

Which ever of those 7 spiritual gifts we have they must cause us time and time again to return to the rich resources of Gods grace in order to use them! 


  • 3 public gifts (12:6-7) – doctrinal – presenting the truth 
  • The central 'parakaleo' – promoting the truth 
  • 3 private gifts (12:8) – practicing the truth 

Wither we are: 

  • Presenting the Truth 
  • Promoting the Truth 
  • Practicing the Truth 

We need grace to do so. 

It is not enough to say: 

I think.... 
I feel... 
Its the tradition.... 
Its the usual practice.... 
Brother such and such has said... 
That's the way we usually deal with this one... 
This message went down well last time, so we'll repeat it... 

We need to draw fresh grace for each fresh exercise of gift. 

The light that would shine from Zerubabels temple would be fuelled by oil from the olive trees in heaven. 
Samson was only the strong man when that link of devotion to His God – the Nazarite vow was intact! Cut the link with a pair of scissors and : “I shall become weak and be like any other man” (Judges 16:17) 
Peter could walk on the water but when he took his eyes off the Lord he began to sink. 

In the operation of those gifts, in the execution of them God has supplied His Spirit. 

For what is His Spirit sufficient? 

This is the subject of 12:9-21. 

The Spirit Gifted man must be the Spirit filled man or he will fail. 

Such a man will: 

Divide the Saints (14:1) 
Despise the Saints (14:3,10) 
Discourage the Saints (14:13,21) 
Destroy the Saints (14:15,20) 

If this is the result of our service, no matter how gifted we are – we are not spiritual! 

I hardly need say it – if that is the consequence of our ministry there is something seriously wrong with our spirituality! 

How does the Grace of Gods Holy Spirit change the way in which I exercise my Spiritual gifts? 

In verses 9 to 21 we have approx 12 Separate Injunctions in 13 verses (1 conjunction in verse 20). 

We may not remember these 12 injunctions or instructions but perhaps we will see feel their influence: 

Love (12:9-10) 
Joy (12:12,15) 
Peace (12:16-18) 

This is exactly what was lacking at Rome: 

Love (14:15) 
Joy (14:17) 
Peace (14:17) 

The Grace of Gods Holy Spirit, saves me from: 

v9 – Deception 
v10 – Division 
v11 – Distraction 
v12 – Discouragement 
v13 – Disheartened 
v14 – Destructiveness 
v15 – Disinterest in peoples problems 
v16 – Distant from people 
v17 – Dishonest 
v18 – Disagreeable 
v19 – 20 – Desperate for revenge 
v21 – Defeated 

v9 – Deception 

“let love be without hypocrisy” 

What is love with hypocrisy? 

Does this mean that I say I love someone when I don't? 

In verse 9 the hypocritical love is something altogether more subtle, more sinful and more Satanic than that! 

This is someone who is using love as a pretense to do “evil”! 

This is the hypocrisy of the white washed sepulchers (Matthew 23) 

Cf/ Roms 14 – we love the Lord, we love the truth, open wide and I'll shuv it down your throat! 

The pretext of love is being used to pursue some: 

Perceived doctrinal orthodoxy 
Legalistic view of spirituality 
Personal advancement 
Some desire after sin 

Examples of this abound in scripture: 

Samson and Delilah – true love? 
David and Beersheba 
Wasn't that really nice of Balaam and Balak to throw such a nice party for the Israelites in the wilderness (Num 25)? 
Judas Iscariot 

To this end some have: 

Handled the Word of God deceitfully (2 Co4:2) 
Made merchandise of the people of God (2 Peter 2:3) 
By good words and fair speeches have deceived the hearts of the simple (Rom 16:18) and so serve their own bellies. 

v10 – Division 

Gift without grace – results in division! 

Peter (Gal 2:11ff) 
1 Corinthians chp1 – yet they came behind in no gift (1Co1:7)! 
Romans 14:1ff 

The antidote for all of those divisions was love! 

V10 – 'brotherly love' – 'philadelphia' 
v10 – 'kindly affectioned' – 'philostorgou' 
v13 – 'hospitality' – 'philoxenian' 

Need to give preference to one another, not to self, nor to the sinner but to to the saints! 

It is His own who are precious to Him: John 17:6ff; 17:9-10, 11ff; Eph 5:25 

v11 – Distraction 

Need to keep focused on what our service is about: “serving the Lord” 

Illust: a young brother who gives liberally of his time, treasure and talents, ran into real spiritual problems – his own spiritual life suffering under the pressure of demands placed upon him! 

If we are the kind of person who will 

do anything for anyone, 

we may just find that we end up 

doing everything for everyone, 

achieving nothing for no one instead of 

doing something for the someone who really counts – 

that is Christ! 

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:” (Luk 10:41) 

v12 – Discouragement 

We can be tempted at times to judge by sight and according to the flesh (12:12) and so become discouraged. 

We need the grace of Gods Spirit to look beyond the discouragement to see Him! 

Consider Elijah in the wilderness of Horeb: “let me die” 

Consider the patient perseverance of Job! 

A book which begins with disasters and disappointment, ends with Dinosaurs; the Leviathan and Behemoth and God is able to handle them all! 

Job is able to rejoice in hope, being greater at his later end than at the beginning. 

It is not possible for me to be left wanting as a consequence of  any experience that drives us to draw more deeply from the deep resources of Gods Grace in Christ. 
It is not possible to be impoverished by any event which causes us to enjoy more fully the unsearchable riches of Christ. 
It is not possible for us to ultimately be disappointed by any experience which causes us to place our hope more fully in Christ. 
It is not feasible for us to be defrauded by any circumstance which results in me placing unreservedly my treasures in the bank of heaven rather than upon earth. 
It is not possible to ultimately and finally suffer loss if in those circumstances I find Christ, for all things are His (Rom 8:32; Heb 2:10; 1Co 3:21)! 
It is not possible for me to be ultimately disappointed by any experience which leads me to see that He is not a disappointment! 
It is not possible to suffer ultimate defeat whilst enjoying the truth that we are “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” 

v13 – Disheartened 

Consider the widow of Zarephath – gathering a few sticks to prepare a meal for her and her son to die! 

In her despondency she was in no mood for hospitality! 

Certainly in no mood to regard it as a priority to “distribute to the necessity of the Saints”! 

“And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” (1Ki 17:12) 

What kind of faith was given to this woman to take the last meal from her sons mouth and hand it to Elijah? 

This was the faith to draw from the rich resources of Gods Grace (12:3,6) – faith to look beyond the meagre measure of a handful of meal and to lay hold of the full “measure of faith” (12:3). 

v14 – Destructiveness 
v15 – Disinterest in peoples problems 
v16 – Distant from people 
v17 – Dishonest 
v18 – Disagreeable 
v19 – 20 – Desperate for revenge 
v21 – Defeated


Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie