Gifts From Above
Spiritual gifts are tools, not toys. They are not to be played with or used to attract people to ourselves but employed by God, through us, for His purposes and for His glory.
Whatever our gifts may be—be they abilities to do with speaking or with serving—they are given for the well-being of the church. God gives these gifts in order that, as we use them as He intends, the body of Christ as a whole might be strengthened. They’re not given as an opportunity to advance an individual’s cause or for displays of greatness but in order that the unity, harmony, and progress of all God’s people might be strengthened. That is why we have gifts that differ: so that we would learn to serve each other and depend on each other.
Yet God’s gifts are only able to promote harmony and well-being when they are exercised in a spirit of genuine humility. The body of each local church grows only to the extent that “each part is working properly” (Ephesians 4:16). Before encouraging his readers to use their gifts, Paul had already prefaced his discourse on spiritual gifts by mentioning humility, urging everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). Without humility, spiritual gifts can lead to chaos. We would not give power tools to teenagers without proper instruction and oversight, nor would we give them chain saws to run around with—unless we wanted absolute havoc! Similarly, spiritual gifts must be used for their proper function and in the right manner so that mayhem does not ensue. So Paul tells the Corinthian church—a church full of gifts but not full of wisdom about how to use them—that while it is good to desire and celebrate spiritual gifts, the “more excellent way” to put them to use is to do so patiently, kindly, and humbly—that is, with love (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:7).
We must remember that gifts are gifts. Their source is God; therefore, boasting as if they are our own is foolish, and using them for our own benefit is inexcusable. If, however, we practice humility as we use them and learn to live in harmony with one another, then we will see the fruit of God’s work in and through us. In what ways has God gifted you? Rejoice in that. In what ways is He calling you to use those gifts for the good of your church and for the glory of His Son? Go do that.
Unity in the Body of Christ
1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”1
9(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?2 10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds3 and teachers,4 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,5 to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
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