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Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

In today’s post, I’m talking about the last of the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12. It’s the heart of mercy.

…if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:8c

This is probably the most misunderstood of the gifts. That’s because, in our generation, we have no concept of the biblical meaning of this word, mercy. It’s actually a very involved concept.

Let me try to explain it briefly.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites…you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

Matthew 23:23

This is actually a poor translation of what Jesus said. In the Greek, this literally says judgment, mercy, and faith. According to Jesus, these are the most important aspects of the law.

We understand faith and judgment. Faith is the basis for pleasing God – we need to trust Him. Judgment is what you get if you displease Him by breaking His law. In a nutshell, mercy is God’s reward for your faithfulness.

A few years back I wrote a series on mercy. If you want a more detailed explanation of mercy, click here.

Getting back to the heart of mercy, someone with this gift finds their joy in rewarding faithfulness in others. They want to see that people who put forth an effort receive a blessing.

Like I said, they’re sometimes misunderstood, and they’re accused of being too compassionate and forgiving. Sometimes it seems like they’re blessing those who don’t deserve it.

But, this is because of their unique perspective. They have a God-given ability to see the potential in a person who others reject. As they do this, someone with a merciful heart will sometimes bless this person based upon what they see as future faithfulness in Christ.

The Apostle Paul saw this aspect of God’s mercy in his own life. God looked ahead to what Paul would become in Christ.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

1 Timothy 1:13

Someone with a heart of mercy will see what people could become and reward that. However, this could lead to problems. That’s why Paul exhorts a person with this gift to exercise it with cheerfulness.

The challenge is that unlike God, we can’t see the future. Sometimes a merciful heart is wrong about where the other person is headed. They’re told to be cheerful, because many times they can be disappointed by the outcome.

We need this perspective in the body of Christ. We need to be reminded that what people look and act like now doesn’t always reflect what they could become in Christ.

As a matter of fact, all of these gifts that I’ve talked about over the last few posts, are important in God’s kingdom. All of them are necessary to fulfill God’s calling on the church.

We are all created unique and different. That’s a good thing. Yes, sometimes our differences bring challenges. Sometimes we don’t understand the thinking of those with a different heart-gift.

Some find others gifts annoying. Sometimes we’ll envy the gifts of others. But, simply put, we need each other. And, we need to be what God created us to be.

I believe that’s why Paul opened this section by explaining that we are all the parts of a body (Romans 12:4-5). We were made to work together as a unit.

Be the blessing to others that you were meant to be.

Questions: Do you have a heart of mercy? Who do you know with this gift?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Do You Have a Leader’s Heart?

Do You Have a Leader’s Heart?

In today’s post, I’ll continue talking about the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12.

…if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;

Romans 12:8c

The next is the gift of a leader’s heart. This is another necessary part of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, because of the faults in our humanity, we get the wrong idea of what this means.

First, let me tell you what this is NOT. A leader’s heart does not mean that this person is bossy or controlling. It’s actually just the opposite.

Someone who truly has the God-given gift of this motivation has a grace to see the steps that need to be taken in order to reach a desired outcome. Then, they also have the grace to motivate those who are called to fulfill that mission.

The word, leadership, in this verse, literally means to stand in front of. Along with this, you need to know that the word, govern, is not in the original text. It was put there by the translators to make it easier to read.

So, the grace of a leader’s heart is to take the lead in bringing order to the work that needs to be done in the church. Things are accomplished so much quicker, when we follow a plan.

I believe that James, the writer of the book of James, had a leader’s heart. People seemed to follow his lead without question as he pastored the church in Jerusalem. The book of James is also structured as an instructional guide to help someone begin their Christian journey.

When my wife and I were first married, our pastor had this gift. At one point, our denomination wanted to hold a Women’s Dinner. Our pastor volunteered our church and said that our men would cater it. (He was also a trained chef.)

I was one of the five men who volunteered to serve. The day of the dinner, he gave each of us our assignments and continued to tell us what to do and when to do it. I have to tell you that it couldn’t have run more smoothly, even if we had hired a professional caterer.

I believe that this is one of the more neglected gifts in the church. Many times, in our ministries, there are things that need to be done. Yet, we don’t realize that the gift we need is “in the house”.

We go out and hire people to do things that could easily be accomplished if we only knew each other’s gifts. Please understand, I know that we need to hire people for jobs that need specialized training or certification. But, there are plenty of other jobs that only require a willingness to follow instructions.

That brings me to Paul’s exhortation to those who have a leader’s heart. He tells them to lead with diligence. It’s actually the Greek word from which we get our English word, speed. It means to be quick or eager.

That’s because, like I said at the start of this post, someone with this motivation is not bossy or controlling. They don’t usually push themselves forward. They may offer to lead, or wait to be invited or called upon.

That’s also why it’s so important to understand the difference between position and heart. God can call anyone, with any heart, into any position of leadership. It’s vitally important for those in the position of leadership to keep in mind those that they know have a leader’s heart.

I believe that the work of the Lord would go a lot smoother, “down in the trenches”, if we utilized the various gifts to their greatest potentials. That’s especially true of those with a leader’s heart who aren’t called to positions of leadership.

We need to recognize and use all of these heart-gifts. The gift of a leader’s heart will be a help to any ministry in accomplishing the Lord’s assignments.

Questions: Do you have a leader’s heart? Who do you know with this gift?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Encourager’s and Giver’s Hearts

Encourager’s and Giver’s Hearts

Continuing through the book of Romans, we’re looking at the motivational gifts that Paul speaks about. In my last two posts we covered the prophet’s, servant’s and teacher’s hearts.

…if it is encouraging, let him encourage;

Romans 12:8a

The next in this list is the encourager’s heart. This is the same Greek word that’s used for the Holy Spirit when He’s called the Comforter. Of course, it has nothing to do with our modern definition of comfort.

It’s a Greek word that means to call alongside. The best way I can describe it is to call this person a coach. The encourager has a coach’s heart.

In the world of athletics, your coach is the one who prepares you physically and emotionally for the next game. They understand your strengths and weaknesses, and push you to become the best you can be.

That’s what the believers with an encourager’s heart are motivated to do in the body of Christ. They want to cheer you on and let you know that you’re victorious in Christ.

Because of this desire, everyone likes to be around them. They’re usually uplifting and cheerful. When you’ve spent some time with an encourager, you leave feeling like you’re ready to take on the world.

In all likelihood, the Apostle Paul had an encourager’s heart. In many of his letters, he concluded them with uplifting words for the people he knew in those areas.

The only downside is that many times, others who have a different gift, try to copy this one. We need to understand who we are in Christ, and operate in our own personal gifting.

…if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;

Romans 12:8b

That brings us to the giver’s heart. These are people who are highly motivated to share what they have with those around them.

Those with a giver’s heart are valuable in the kingdom of God. Many times their ability to share with others is an encouragement to all of us to follow their example.

Please realize that I’m not just talking about money here. They try to meet people’s needs. They have great insight into what someone actually has need of.

They may give money, but many times they give other types of tangible items. It might be a book, an article of clothing, or some food they prepared. They’re a real blessing to those around them.

However, I have seen a misuse of this gift. There were times that I’ve seen a giver’s heart give away something that should have been used on themselves or their immediate family. People with this gift need to be led by the Holy Spirit in their giving to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Someone in Scripture who probably walked in this gift was a woman named Tabitha (Acts 9:36-41). She was someone who was always making clothing for the poor.

It’s important to note that Paul gives a special exhortation to those with this motivation. The word that’s translated as generously, above, actually means with singleness and simplicity. It implies that the giver should not look at what others think or do.

This is important because many times a giver will get upset when they see others ignoring the needs of people that they see so clearly. A person with a giver’s heart needs to realize that we all have our own walk and we’re only responsible for our own actions.

Those with a giver’s heart rarely seek any kind of acknowledgment or special treatment because of their giving. Actually, they seem very uncomfortable when they’re placed in the spotlight. They want to give because that’s what fulfills them.

Questions: Do you have an encourager’s or a giver’s heart? Who do you know with these gifts?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Servant’s and Teacher’s Hearts

Servant’s and Teacher’s Hearts

As we go through Romans, I’ve started to describe the different grace gifts that we’ve been given. In my last post I talked about the prophet’s heart.

If it is serving, let him serve;

Romans 12:7a

The next gift I want to look at is the servant’s heart. These are the people who always want to help out. They want to be told what needs to be done and they jump right on it.

People with this heart are always needed in the local ministry. They’re the ones who come up to you and say, “Just tell me what you want done.” They don’t care if no one sees what they’re doing. They’re not looking for any kind of advancement. They simply want to be of service to God’s kingdom.

It’s interesting that Paul gives them no special exhortation, just to serve in your serving.

These people have a special insight into what needs to be done. They sometimes see a need and fill it before others even recognize the problem.

An example of someone with this heart is Martha. Think about the time that Jesus came to teach at her home.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Luke 10:40

This illustrates the problem that a servant’s heart will sometimes face. Because of their ability to see what needs to be done, they sometimes get frustrated when others don’t see the need to serve. There is a solution to this, but it will be difficult for them to implement it.

Because of their special insight of what needs to be done, many times it makes them a good candidate for leadership positions. The problem is that they usually don’t see themselves as leaders.

But, in my opinion, some of the best leaders are those who lead by example. Their lives are a living illustration of how to serve in God’s kingdom.

…if it is teaching, let him teach;

Romans 12:7b

The next grace gift that Paul mentions is the teacher’s heart. I understand this one the most, because it’s my personal motivation.

People with a teacher’s heart want to impart information that will help others to live a better life. Jesus gives a good description of this motivation.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Matthew 13:52

Those with this gift see themselves as storehouses of valuable treasures. They see information as God’s grace to be distributed. Unfortunately, the value of this treasure is in the eye of the beholder.

The problem that many of us with this heart run into, is that we’re tempted to teach – give out this information – at inappropriate times. For instance, if a dish falls off the counter, that’s not the right time to explain to a family member why putting it too close to the edge is what caused the mess. Yes, I know this from experience!

In walking with a teacher’s heart, the best approach is to distribute the grace of information according to the Word we received from God. We need to be aware of the feelings and needs of those around us and not just our desire to teach them the “right way”.

In this way, we can see God’s hand at work through us.

Questions: Do you have a servant’s or a teacher’s heart? Who do you know with these gifts?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Do You have a Prophet’s Heart?

Do You have a Prophet’s Heart?

In my last post, I started to look at the grace gifts that each of has. These speak of the different motivations we use to distribute God’s grace to those around us.

I personally believe, based upon my observation of God’s people, that each of us has only been given one of these gifts. It’s the filter through which we see the world and our ministry.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

Romans 12:6

The first gift Paul mentions is prophesying. Remember, this is not the ministry of a prophet, but a “prophet’s heart.” This motivation is a heart that desires to speak for God.

This is probably the motivation that’s the easiest to spot in someone. A person with a prophet’s heart will manifest a very dogmatic personality. There are no gray areas with them. Everything is either right or wrong, black or white; there’s no middle ground.

What we need to realize is that each of these motivations can be mishandled. None of us are perfect. If we’re not careful, we can get carried away by the directions of our heart and cause conflict with others of a different heart.

Many times you’ll find someone with a prophet’s heart getting in trouble for what they say. People can easily misunderstand them and think that they’re too legalistic.

The fact is, this grace gift is motivated by a desire to see people reach their fullest potential in Christ. When they see someone missing the mark, they feel the need to warn them. Not to be mean, but to help them live their best life.
The fact is that we need dogmatic people in the body of Christ. They help keep us straight when we’re tempted to leave the path.

I know this from experience. My wife, Cheryl, has the motivation of a prophet’s heart. I find it a blessing to my spiritual walk. However, there have been those who’ve accused her of being mean because they don’t understand what she’s really trying to accomplish.

A great example of this in the Scripture is the apostle, Peter. He definitely walked in this grace gift. Look at his response to Jesus when the Lord tried to wash his feet.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

John 13:8-9

Peter was that person with no middle ground. His first response, thinking that this act was beneath the Messiah, was that it would never happen. Then, once Christ explained what He was doing, Peter jumps in “whole hog”, and tells Jesus to give him a bath. These are the responses of a prophet’s heart.

That’s why Paul exhorts this person to use this heart in proportion to your faith. Having already told us that faith comes by hearing through a Word from God, it gives us the foundation for this grace gift.

Someone with this gift needs to be careful to only be adamant about what they know they received from God. We have to rely on what God says as truth. That’s the only true foundation for our faith.

If not, we become dogmatic about the laws of men. Being hard-headed about the doctrines of man can cause a lot of unneeded drama in the body of Christ. This causes many to be accused of being self-righteous Pharisees.

Used correctly, this motivation is very much needed in the church. If it’s your gift, cultivate it as the Lord leads you to speak and act on His behalf. It brings God’s grace to keep His people on track with His will.

Questions: Do you have a prophet’s heart? Who do you know with a prophet’s heart?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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