Romans 12:7: The Gift of Serving: Part One


  • The paradigm of servanthood
  • The responsibility of servanthood


We are all servants. This is an insulting statement to our generation that treasures freedom and self-definition above all other things. But this statement is true in two ways. Firstly, we are all creatures made by God to serve His will. He did not make us as equals, but to know the joy and wonder of His goodness in the ways of His commandments. We are only truly free when we are doing what we are made for. In this sense every person is a servant, they are servants ontologically, by nature, and are repressing their true selves until they surrender to God. There will inevitably be a disconnect in their hearts until they find their rest in God. But there is more to this story. Because of sin, we are all born sinners and are enslaved by a sinful nature. There is a brokenness in the human heart that has made addicts out of all of us. We are slaves to our wrong desires and willingly hand ourselves over to service to sin. I remember when God converted me how I agonised over this reality. Have you ever tried to stop thinking sinful thoughts, you can’t! Try and stop thinking your better than everyone else, or how idiotic they are, or your anger, jealousy, lust, bitterness, cynicism, aggression, self-centredness, etc. You are a servant of sin. It is only those who are dead and resurrected with Christ, and who have the Spirit within them who are now able to put sin to death and nurture the fruit of the Spirit. The struggle of the Christian life is to stop being the servant of sin and return to being the servants of God.

As we continue looking at the spiritual gifts in Romans 12:7 Paul tells us that there is a gift of serving. But immediately you might think, how can these two words be in the same sentence, gift and serving. Much like our own day when you said the word servant it was a word loaded with negative connotations. To be a servant was to be a person of no status; to be subservient to another’s will. It was a life of oppression and being taken advantage of. Serving speaks of hard labour and no reward. However, when God made Adam, He was made a servant; it was a role of honour. It is only because of the entrance of sin that servanthood has suffered abuse and is seen as something lesser. It is because of sloth and pride that people seek position and have others do the leg work. It is because we have lost the value of labour and seeking another’s good that servanthood has become a slur. Today as we look at the gift of serving, we want to see how Christ has reclaimed and redefined the nature of servanthood; but also we want to look at the gift and the universal responsibility of servanthood.