Division and personal gains cannot be something that we strive for or glorify within the church. We are meant to be one body that works in unison to glorify God and to lead more people into the Kingdom. While we all have different roles to contribute, none of us are truly better than each other. What I wanted to do in this blog is focus on aspects of 1 Corinthians 12, which looks at the spiritual gifts and unity and diversity within the body. I want this to be an encouragement that whatever our gift may be that the Spirit has placed upon us individually, should never be belittled as it is an integral part of the body. I also want us to be reminded to build others up around us. This is the message that I will emphasise throughout. Two verses I want us to keep in mind are 12v25-26, ‘so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.’. It is important we work together towards the one common goal. Let us throw away pride and timidity and step into who we are called to be.
12v4 ‘There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work’. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Corinthians that although there is difference in gifting it is all from the same God. That is God who works through these gifts and it is the Spirit who gives them as he determines. Our gifts are in line with where God calls us to be. It is not about someone being more important than the other. It is about God giving as he desires.
I want to have a brief look at the Parable of the talents/ bags of gold (Matthew 25v14-30) in relation to our spiritual gifts. The master ‘gave five bags of gold, to another two bags of gold, and to another one bag, each according to his ability’, (25v15) Highlighting, that God will never give us more than our God giving ability will call for. God knows us from the inside out, God knows what we can cope with and what we cannot cope with. God wants us to be purposeful with what we are given. To summarise the rest of the parable, the servant who was given five bags went out and made five more. The servant with two, went and made two more. However, the one who had one bag dug a hole and buried it. The Master returns and asks about the bags, the first two are able to show him the success they had; in which the Master rewards them for their faithfulness. As for the servant with the one bag, he gives the master back what the Master had given him. Out of fear of the Master, instead of being faithful with what he had, he chose to let fear take over and not do anything. The servant is harshly rebuked and cast out by the Master.
The lesson we need to learn about our spiritual gifting is not to become like the servant who had the one bag of gold. No matter how small we may feel our gift is, God has given it to us for a purpose. God wants us to use it to honour him and to benefit others. It is never about the number of gifts we have but rather how we use them. May we learn to step out and use them; bringing them into the fulfilment as God desired for them to be.
Being a unified body
We are all instrumental parts of the body of Christ. We need to own what we are called to be doing. Paul illustrates this is his letter, ‘And if the ear should say “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong in the body” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body”. Trying to be something we are not, that is not our individual gifting, does not transform what we are meant to be doing. Instead, we are not using our gifts to their full potential, that eventually leads the whole body to lag. ‘If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?’, (12v17). Instead we should rejoice as Paul emphasises in v18, ‘But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be’. There is purpose in what each of us are called to do. It is not about all of us having to be preachers or worship leaders. For some of us our gift is in listening or being a comforter. Some make an incredible cup of tea because they make it with their gift of love and compassion for those around us. Some of us are artistic, writers, fixers and so much more. We need to learn to trust that we are gifted, and God wants us to use it for his good. That we were truly made for such a time as this. That we are unified in our love for God and in the purpose of bringing his kingdom home. That we can all come together to be a powerful body of Christ.
Building each other up
Let’s go back to the verses that began this blog, 12v25-26. One thing we have learnt through reading 1 Corinthians 12 is that although there is individuality, there is not meant to be diversity. Rather, ‘its parts should have equal concern for each other’, we should be focused on helping people to flourish with the gifts that they have. Therefore, everyone can be at their full potential of who they are called to be. It then allows them to help the body flow more naturally. We need to encourage; some people have been gifted with teaching and speaking and due to low self-esteem or fear that is stopping them from stepping out. No one should ever feel left out, there should always be a collective unity, that is how we were called to be. If having our faith is only about personal gains, then we have lost sight of what our faith is meant to be about. We give up our life to follow a saviour who gave all he was to save people and give them a life with purpose. Ultimately dying on the cross to be a Saviour for all, that is how we should use our gifts to serve and to help others. May we always encourage and always be people who build others up. Do not lose sight of who you are called to be. I want to finish with a scripture from Philippians 2:3 ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.’ Let us look after one another, it will be amazing if we could become people who were known for their unity not for their division.
May you have such a blessed week. You are so loved, and you have purpose. Love Victoria xx