The Spirit Equips

1 Corinthians 12

Concerning spiritual gifts
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to dumb idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Unity and diversity in the body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 And so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 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 stop being part of the body. 17 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? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 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!’ 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Love is indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Reflection

It’s hard to avoid the often competitive nature of our culture. It’s a dog eat dog world, and if we’re not competing, we’re comparing ourselves to those around us. Just me?

Don’t get me wrong, competition can be a great thing. Think Olympics or Great British Bakeoff (RIP) or when literally anyone beats my husband at any game ever… It can be challenging and rewarding.

But competition can so easily take a dark twist. It inevitably leads to comparing ourselves to those around us, and forgetting or under appreciating what we have to offer.

Take this a step further and that dark twist can spiral out of control and we can begin to resent those around us, especially if we think that their gifts and qualities are ‘better’ than our own.

Well this passage should be an encouragement to those of us who struggle with comparison. It’s a reminder that we ALL have something to offer. There’s no hierarchy. No need for comparison. All are necessary for the building up of the church as we grow in unity.

In today’s culture, we have to consciously choose to support each other, rejoice in our neighbour’s successes and fight against the instinct to compete because ultimately “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.” (26)

Can I challenge you? As an act of subversion against the cultural trends: call out the gifts in those around you. Celebrate their gifts. Who can you message to thank them for the difference they make to our church community? Go for the obvious ones, but also go for the people that you think might be overlooked.

Holy Spirit, fill me again, equip me with your gifts to enter this day. Help me to use them to bring greater unity to our church. Help me leave any thoughts of comparison behind. Amen.
Pip Coombs wife to Matt, meaning she literally spends every day with Matt & student midwife.
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