Archive for November 17th, 2010

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12 contains some of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts.  Why?  “I do not want you to be uniformed”.  Paul knows this is an area where people can get off course and his goal is to help us understand the gifts that God gives us as Christ Followers.  It is important to understand that all these gifts come from the same place.  Over and over Paul reminds us we are “one”.  If you count that word in this chapter, it is there numerous times.  Gifts should never divide the body.  They are given to unify and be used to help the body grow.  They are God’s way of empowering us as members of the body to do His work.  “God has so composed the body” so that we can be effective.  That means we are not all alike – in fact quite the opposite – we are each created and gifted uniquely to serve Him. 

It is interesting that Paul sort of breaks things down into three buckets:

–       “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit

–       there are varieties of service, but the same Lord

–       there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God

Gifts, service and activities are listed in this chapter.  But they come from the same source and all are given to us by Him.  “To each is given” and a bit later “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”.  We don’t determine what gifts we receive.  God gives them to us freely and for His purpose.  Some get caught up seeking specific gifts or manifestations.  But God is the giver.  Our role is to receive and then use those gifts to build up the body of Christ.

So what kinds if things is Paul writing about: “wisdom…..knowledge…..faith…..healing…..miracles…..prophecy…..ability to distinguish between spirits…..tongues…..interpretation of tongues” and later he lists gifts in the church as “apostles…..prophets…..teachers…..miracles…..healing…..helping…..administrating…..tongues”.  There is much variety in the gifts that God has prepared for us.  These are important in the life of the church.  We need to understand our gifting’s and then be focused on how we can use those to serve God both in and out of the church.  Gifts are for the body – and we must remember that “there may be no division in the body”.  Gifts never cause division if used appropriately. They are to create unity and oneness.  They come to us from God to build up, not tear down.

Paul reminds us of that with these words: “you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”.  We are part of the whole yet individuals as well.  God does not stamp us out as mirror images of each other.  We are each created with and given unique talents and gifts to help build the church.  It is exciting to understand those and how God wants to use them in our life as well as the body.  But even with all the goodness that the gifts can bring, Paul ends the chapter with these key words: “I will show you a still more excellent way”.  What is that way?  He writes about it in the next chapter.  Gifts are powerful, they are important, they are necessary to help the body.  But Paul will show us the more excellent way is all about love.  Without love, as we will see in the next chapter, gifts are hollow and ineffective.  Love is the glue that makes life happen God’s way.  God is love.  We must be too!

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