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Romans 12:6– What is charisma?

30-11-2021 - Posted by Hans

Now, having graces excelling, in accord with the grace which is given to us, whether prophecy, exercise it in  accord with the analogy of the faith.

First a few language facts. Charis is the Greek word for grace. Grace stands for everything that is free, gratuitous, and gives joy. The derived ‘charis-ma’ indicates what grace works out. ‘Charis-ma’ means ‘grace effect’ and the plural of this word is ‘charismata’.

Paul argues here in Romans 12 (as well as in 1 Corinthians 12) that believers have different charismata (graces). A believer is someone who has come to know God’s grace, and thus joy (Col.1:6). But that joy works differently. That is why Paul speaks of “having effects of grace”. The effects are very diverse because this is related to differences in aptitude and capacities. Plug in a vacuum cleaner and it starts vacuuming. Do the same with an iron and you can iron and with a washing machine the laundry starts to spin. It’s the same power source, but completely different effects.

Thus one has the charisma of teaching, another of showing mercy, another of encouraging or leading. The effects are different. But however distinct these are, grace is always the driving force. That’s what makes charisma so attractive. Because who is happy, functions optimally in everything!