- If your gift is serving others (διακονία/G1248), serve them well. (Rom 12:7)
- …then… those who can help (ἀντίλημψις/G484) others.… (1 Cor 12:28)
Nature of the Gifts
The term “service” can refer to the ministry of Jesus Christ himself,1Rom 15:8; Gal 2:17. to Christian ministry in general,2Rom 15:25; 1 Cor 3:5; 12:5; 16:15; 2 Cor 3:3–9; 4:1; 6:4; 11:15, 23; Eph 3:7; 4:12; 6:21; Col 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7; 1 Tim 1:12; 4:6; 2 Tim 1:18; 4:11; Phlm 13. to someone’s specific ministry,3Rom 11:13; 2 Cor 5:18; 6:3; Col 4:17; 2 Tim 4:5, to the ministry of collecting funds for the saints in Jerusalem,4Rom 15:31; 2 Cor 8:4, 19, 29; 9:1, 1, 13. or perhaps even to a recognized office in the church.5Rom 16:1; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8–13. Here it could refer to a general ministry of Christians, but given that it’s in a gift list, we should see it as a specific gift, if not necessarily an “office” per se. Schreiner leans toward “the gift of service in general, perhaps especially the task of rendering financial and material assistance.”6Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, BECNT (Baker, 1998), 657. I would see it as including that but conceived more broadly.
Having this gift of serving doesn’t put you in a servile position. Eve was “a helper just right for [Adam]” (Gen 2:18), and God is our “helper”7Pss 54:4; 70:5; 146:5; Exod 18:3; Isa 41:10, 13.; however, that doesn’t make our wives our servants or God our slave. Deacons especially are to help those in need, which indicates that this is a gift that deacons should earnestly covet. The exercise of this gift would involve doing anything that is “helpful,” with a priority on helping fellow believers (Gal 6:10). But it could also refer to helping and serving the broader community, among which the church functions as salt and light.8Matt 5:13–17; Phil 2:15.
A New Testament example of someone exercising this gift was Dorcas, who “was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36). Today, we recognize that people use many talents for the kingdom of God: the church pianist laboring for the Lord during worship and prayer, the repair man who conscientiously appears around the church bearing tools the week after he’s noticed something loose, broken, or squeaking, or the high school boy who shows up at a widow’s home with a lawn mover in the summer, a rake when the leaves are falling, or a shovel and salt when the snow is falling.