Gifted: Don’t Be Ignorant

“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. . . . The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:1,12)

The Bible describes a weird and wonderful thing that happens to every single person who puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ for salvation from sin. And, honestly, way too many of us are ignorant about it. Paul called this thing “spiritual gifts.” It’s the idea that we’re each given the supernatural ability — through the power of God’s Holy Spirit with us — to do certain things unnaturally well for a specific purpose.

dock_350Three major passages describe some of these gifts. Some churches teach that all the gifts are still “active” today; others say some of the sign gifts were needed only while the church was being established. What we’re going to focus on this week is not the what or how of spiritual gifts, but the why. What’s the point of this crazy power God hands out to His people through His Spirit?

Paul’s metaphor: a human body. The church — all of us who say Jesus is Lord of all — is often called “Christ’s body” in the New Testament. Like a human body, Paul writes, we’ve got lots of parts. That is, we’re all parts of His body. In other words, I’m a toe; you’re an eyelash, etc.

See, I told you this was going to be a weird and wonderful idea.

Think: What are some ways in which the church operates like a body?

Pray: Ask God to help you get a better understanding for why he gave you a spiritual gift.

Do: Speed drill: List as many body parts as you can think of in 3 minutes. Go.

Gifted: One Spirit to Drink

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. ” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Slow yourself down for a minute to catch the impact of this short verse’s big ideas about the Holy Spirit.

dock_350Paul clearly states that every single believer is included in Christ’s body by the one and only Holy Spirit of God. Every believer. God throws out our human comparison measuring sticks (nationality, skin color, height, hair, money, popularity, smarts, smells, etc.). None of them count for or against you.

Without exception, every true believer in Jesus is filled up with the Holy Spirit at the moment we trust in Him to save us from our sin. What poetry! We drink the Spirit into us by our faith in Christ. This is the living water Jesus promised to the woman at the well, the kind that keeps us from ever feeling spiritually thirsty again.

And He brought us presents.

Think: How often do you consciously think about the fact that, as a Christian, God’s Spirit lives in you? When you do think about it, what difference does it make to you?

Pray: Thank God for giving you the one Spirit to drink, along with all of your Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

Do: Try to imagine following Jesus in this life without the power of God’s Spirit in you.

Gifted: I’m No Superman

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-16)

Wait a minute! Didn’t Paul just write in the last verse that we are all one body? Baptized by one Spirit? All of us given that same one Spirit to drink? Isn’t being a Christian all about unity?

dock_350Well, kind of. But it’s not about being stamped out by a cookie cutter, one identical item after another. Christians get accused of wanting everyone to be that way sometimes, but that’s not God’s idea. We are unified by the same power source (the Holy Spirit), but we’re all given different powers.

Geeky metaphor alert: It’s kind of like Aquaman and the Flash — united by being superheroes, but with wildly different supernatural abilities. Aquaman will never run faster than Superman, and the Flash will always have to come up for air. Our spiritual gifts help to define our purpose in life. The Flash can’t stop being the fast guy just because he’s mad he can’t swim so good. We’ve got to get comfortable with the gifts God gives us.

Think: What are the most important parts of your body? What are the least important parts? Are you sure? Are there any parts you can live without?

Pray: Ask God to help you to come to a clear understanding of what your specific spiritual gift/gifts are — and what they are not. Then ask Him to help you to be fully satisfied to use your gifts to serve Him and others.

Do: If you’re a comic book fan, make a quick list of a few of the lesser superheroes. Think they’re ever resentful not to be Supes, Batman, or Spidey?

Gifted: CDL 007

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:17-20)

Do you look at license plates? I’ve always wanted a cool plate on my car. Not a “vanity” plate I had to pay extra for, just a cool set of the regular numbers and letters that stands out from the crowd a little. Maybe something that makes a cool acronym or ends in 007. It never works out that way.

dock_350God is not the Department of Motor Vehicles. When you go to the DMV to get plates for your car, an often bored looking lady behind the counter reaches for the closest stack and hands you whatever is on top of the pile. Your vehicular ID is assigned at random and without any thought about how it fits you or your world.

That’s fine for license plates, but people sometimes accuse God of working that way in our world. He doesn’t. If you read the middle of today’s passage, you’ll see that He hands out spiritual gifts by design to specific people in specific situations to meet specific needs. Or as Paul put it, He arranged the parts of the body of Christ according to His plan. There are no accidental feet or happenstance ears. Your part in the body is your part for a reason. For His reason.

Think: Are you convinced that God made you as you are — including your spiritual gifts — for a good reason? Why is it hard for us to believe that sometimes?

Pray: Thank God for arranging your part in the body of Christ just as He wanted you to be.

Do: Look for some cool license plates this week.

Gifted: Dead Fingers

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.” (1 Corinthians 12:21-24)

Know anybody missing a few digits? It can happen fast, especially around big farm or construction equipment. One minute, you’ve got ten fingers. Then — chomp — you’re down to eight. Here’s the deal: The person who loses a few fingers can survive and adapt; they do okay. The finger, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. It’s done. The rule of thumb is that a finger without a body is just dead skin and bones.

dock_350Paul said the same applies to Christians. We’re built to work together. Some of us are fingers. Some of us are elbows. Some of us are livers. But none of us can say we don’t need the rest of the body. We need each other to survive. If you’ve been ditching the rest of the body (meaning not hanging with other Christians), you’re going to start to shrivel up spiritually.

Here’s the other deal: Some of the glamor parts are expendable (fingers, arms, legs, eyes, etc.), but most of the “hidden” parts are essential (livers, hearts, rectums). The body really, really needs the “non-public” parts, or we’re toast. If your spiritual gifts are behind-the-scenes instead of up front, thank God that you are so important to the body.

Think: Do you ever wonder if you really need to go to church or spend time with other believers? What are the consequences for you trying to live for God on your own? What are the consequences for the body when you make that choice?

Pray: Ask God to help you understand your part in the body of Christ and to be glad for the part He made you.

Do: Cut off one of your fingers and watch to see how long it lives on its own. [Lawyer’s note: Do NOT cut off your finger! This is an imagination exercise. TheDailyDevo does not endorse or approve of actual home surgery as a learning exercise. Thank you.]

Gifted: Hurting Together

“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 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 honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

Yesterday, we talked about unplanned finger-ectomies. Dead fingers. Missing digits. But what if you just cut your finger most of the way off? Honestly, that would hurt for way longer than just cutting it all of the way off. Percentage-wise, your fingers aren’t that big a part of your body. But when your fingers are in agony, your whole body is paying attention.

dock_350Paul said the church should be like that. None of the spiritual gifts makes that person more important than the rest of the people. Every believer is equal and connected. We should hurt just as deeply for the wounded person who sits next to us in the back row with the gift of helps as we do for the wounded pastor on the platform with the gift of teaching. And we should celebrate just as sincerely when the encouragement-gifted lady has a triumph as when the evangelist-gifted guy does.

Why doesn’t it always work that way? Because humans like to rank people by importance, intelligence, popularity, and financial status. It’s completely normal, and it’s dead wrong in the church. The body can’t heal if it just pretends like the broken leg is fine and dandy. The church can’t thrive if we pick and choose who we’ll hurt and hooray with.

Think: How often do you hurt for hurting people in your church? How often do their successes make you happy?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have the right amount of concern for all the people in your church.

Do: Remember a moment when one small part of you was in pain and that’s all you could think about even though the rest of you was fine.