Do you know that you have spiritual gifts from God?
That’s right. Each and every one of us has spiritual gifts from God. These gifts come in many different forms. Some are greater than others, but they are equally important. Each gift is essential for the benefit of all believers. The danger is that someone who possesses a public and “impressive” gift might lord it over the one who possesses a private gift of service. Those who have the gift of helping others rarely seek recognition or attention. Their instincts are to reach out and serve other without reward or recognition.
The theme of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is unity. The church in Corinth had many issues, but the greatest problem was the lack of unity within the church. In the section of First Corinthians that is just before the reading we heard today, the diversity of the body illustrated the diversity of the gifts within the body of believers. In this section of the Letter, attention is cast on the fact that many members are required to make up one body.
The church today sometimes finds itself in a similar situation. Sometimes there is fighting about who is most important in the church body. This wastes time that would be better spent demonstrating unity to a world that needs a model of genuine community and unity.
One sign of unity is when all members equally care for one another. Spiritual gifts are not just a matter of figuring out what one is good at so he/she can be satisfied in serving. Spiritual gifts are intended to promote unity and working together to share the Good News.
One example of spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy. Prophets in Old Testament times were those who proclaimed the very words of God before there was a written text. A prophet today is one who proclaims the very words of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Paul listed apostles first and speaking in tongues last. The Corinthians were putting speaking in tongues first and casting aspersions on the apostles, especially since the apostles were acting in a similar manner to Old Testament prophets.
Some believers have the gift of preaching while others have the gift of leadership. Not everyone has the same gift, and not everything we do will satisfy us 100% of the time. Not all roles or gifts are equally exciting, but they are equally important. Everyone works together and they are firmly planted on the foundation of their faith in God.. Being a Christian is like being a part of a human body. Each Christian is unique, but each Christian is part of something bigger, namely, the Body of Christ. If we aren’t connected to the church, we won’t know the purpose of our lives. We won’t know our role or our function. We won’t know our value or our meaning. We need to be in relationships with other people. We have to learn from others if we want to fulfill our potential and our role within the Body of Christ.
God creates people to carry out specific kinds of work in order to meet human needs. God uniquely designs each of us. He fits each of us for certain tasks. He distributes skills, abilities, interests and personalities among us so that we can carry out his work in the world. That work includes spiritual tasks and secular tasks such as health, education, business, law and so on.
In light of what has gone before within the Corinthian church, Paul’s exhortation to desire the best gifts may seem contradictory. As the following verses will reveal, what Paul considers the best gifts will be quite different from what the Corinthians had been pursuing. The best gifts are those that glorify God the most.
The church is the body of Christ. Every believer is part of that body, so every believer should make the church a priority. When church isn’t a priority, believers deprive themselves and fellow believers. That foundation helps us work together, especially when one member is suffering. Believer are encouraged to come together to help fellow believers when they suffer. The best way to help is for each believer to use his/her gifts. When we use our gifts to do God’s work, we strengthen each other and the Church as a whole.
We need to be connected to a church family so that we can fulfill our calling to serve other believers in practical ways. We need the church and the church needs us. There are no insignificant roles to play in either the church or the body of believers. Every role is of equal importance, because all of the roles are connected. This is something for us to seriously consider at this time of year. It is time for church and parish annual meetings, and during these meetings people are elected to various positions of leadership within a church or the parish. If you are asked to consider running for a position, it means that the people who are asking you think that you have gifts that are especially suitable for the position.
Most of us will never be in a position to influence a lot of people. When we act or speak, only those who are close to us will notice, but our actions will ripple outward to affect an entire community. When we serve God and others, we steady the whole body as we support each other. We must always look for needs that God can meet through us. We don’t have to depend on our own personality or powers of persuasion. Christ will work through us. We are his eyes, ears, hands and feet in the world.
The measure of a Christian worker is not the ability to speak or the worker’s personality. It is the enduring work which he/she accomplishes. That work won’t be manifest or completely recognized until Jesus returns. Only Jesus can truly judge the merits of our efforts.
Some people are multi-talented and well-rounded, but they rarely commit to doing one thing well. They are spread so thin that their impact is minimal. All Christian workers need to stay focused on what they are good at. Here’s a good example of why we need to stay focused.
A sea captain and his chief engineer argued as to which one of them was more important to the ship. They couldn’t agree, so they decided to switch roles. The Chief Engineer came to the bridge and the Captain went to the engine room. After a couple of hours, the Captain come on the deck. He was covered in oil. He waved a monkey wrench at the Chief Engineer and shouted, “Chief, you’ll have to come down here. I can’t make the ship go.”
The Chief Engineer replied, “Of course you can’t. We’ve run aground!”
We must not allow our gifts to be greater than the fruit of the Spirit. When our gifts are greater than the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, our lives will crumble. When we grow in faith, God’s power will work in us to make us more Christ-like.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1588)
- Ed Young, “Body Builder.” Retrieved from www.edyoung.com
- Carolyn Dale Newell, “No Member is Too Weak.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Christine Caine, “Gifts and Fruit.” Retrieved from Biblegateway@e.biblegateway.com
- Pastor Rick Warren, “Where Do You Believe God Can Use You?” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Charles Stanley, “How to Serve the Church.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
- Michael Brooks, “Standards.” Retrieved from forthright.net
- Jack Graham, “How to Maximize Your Kingdom Impact in 2015.” Retrieved from www.jackgraham.org
- Joel Osteen, “Know Who You Are.” Retrieved from joelosteen.com
- Os Hillman, “Is There Hierarchy in Calling?” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jim Liebert, “Partners of Equal Value.” Retrieved from homeword.com
- David Jeremiah, “A Helping Hand.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- David Jeremiah, “The Body of Christ.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Jeremiah, “Uniqueness and Unity.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Rick Warren, “You Learn Your Purpose Through Relationships.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rick Warren, “God Created You to Need Other People.” Retrieved from email@example.com