Romans 12:6 instructs us that “in His grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” Then the apostle Paul begins to state a category of specific gifts any of us might have. I do not believe this list is exhaustive, but rather for expediency sake, Paul concluded this narrative over the next several verses.
It is interesting to note that, in this particular passage, Paul underscores gifts that frequently express themselves in what is often termed as “Social Capital.” One way to define social capital is when one person (capital) uses their influence, friendship, reputation or web of contacts to favorably connect a person (recipient) with much less social capital to a person (resource) who could be a favorable uplift to the recipient. This human tripod of grace usually transports one throughout life, with most of us at some point playing the role of either recipient, capital, or resource at any given time.
Paul ends this thought in verse 8 by saying, “if your gift is showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” The value of kindness is indispensable to the administration of social capital. An opportunity like this means everything to dedicated leaders in distressed neighborhoods. They labor in desolate places with very limited human and financial support. What they need most is what social capital can bring best: effectual relationships. Some of those relationships translate into financial gifts, others are transformed into meaningful volunteerism or invaluable counsel and encouragement. Some morph into lifelong friendships.
Paul wrote this declarative truth about the diversity of the body and the essentiality of every part. He didn’t spend a lot of time trying to demonstrate how the dots were connected. It was a given that they were.
Men and women who serve as indispensable bridges of social capital may not ever serve on the front lines of ministry in under-resourced communities, but they represent hope and substantive service to the Gospel mission to see our cities transformed through Christ!
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