When you think of spiritual gifts, there’s probably a lot of things that come to your mind. I don’t know about you, but what isn’t usually the first thing to come to my mind when thinking about gifts is God’s grace. Yet, that’s exactly where the text leads us in 1 Corinthians 12. God graciously gives spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up one another.
- We Receive God’s Gracious Gift of Christ: v.1-3
It’s important that we keep in front of us the issue of the Corinthian church and their over-emphasis on spiritual gifts and how they used gifts to authenticate their spirituality. In response to that, Paul, before ever talking about gifts, reminds the Corinthians of their identity in Christ that has come through their salvation in Christ. Paul is helping them to look back to their life before Jesus to help frame an appropriate way of how they are to see their gifts. In this, humility is a natural response that should permeate how we think of gifts. We don’t look to gifts to give us status or approval, but instead to be a blessing to the community of God’s people for God’s glory.
- We Receive Spiritual Gifts as the Spirit Apportions: v.4-11
In this second section, Paul begins to teach on spiritual gifts. He begins by emphasizing the variety of gifts but the sameness of God. This variety of gifts is helpful in reminding the church that not everyone is given the same gift. Further, we see that God is the source of all gifts, and the One who empowers all gifts. It’s in God’s generosity of these gifts that we are to receive these gifts for the common good of the church. God has given us gifts with the express intent of us using them to be a blessing to one another.
- We Use Our Gifts to Build the Church: v.12-31
We then see Paul use an illustration of the body to help us understand how gifts play out within the church. Paul makes many points in this section that are helpful to keep in mind. He tells us that we are all members of one body; that we are all necessary to the body, that we are to depend upon one another in the body, that we are to care for one another in the body, and that we are to know our place within the body. The purpose of gifts is meant to unify God’s people, in utilizing what God has put into them to build God’s Kingdom for God’s glory!
- Proper Application of Spiritual Gifts:
As we finished up our time, we spoke of a few ways that we can properly apply these teaching about spiritual gifts in our lives.
We’re Humbly Dependent Upon God: In this, we are reminded that gifts are meant to move us not to independence, but interdependence. That we are incomplete without one another. In a day and age that emphasizes individualism, spiritual gifts remind us of our deep need for one another.
We Graciously Accept His Gifts: We would do well to graciously accept what God has given to us. There would be no more begrudging God’s good and generous gift. Further, that we would celebrate what God has given to others, understanding that even in that, it is an indirect gift of God to us.
We Appreciate God’s Blessing to the Church: That we would be quick to thank God for His kindness in gifts. That we would thank God for giving us gifts, for letting us participate in building the Kingdom of God, that we would be thankful for others’ gifts.
Use Your Gifts to Build the Church: Finally, that we would use our gifts to build the church. Maybe you need to figure out what your gift is. Maybe you need to figure out where to use your gift. Maybe you need help in understanding how your gift works. But for all of us, the expectation is that we use the gifts that God has put into us to build up the body.
God help us that this would be true of Faith Church collectively and of you and I individually.