Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

A Special Place For Everyone

1 Corinthians 12:21-25
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 honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour 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. (NIVUK)

The parts of the church are likened to parts of a human body (1 Corinthians 12:12). Those parts are both believers and special abilities, given to them by the Holy Spirit, which enable the church to represent Jesus Christ on earth (Acts 1:8). Every person and every gift is necessary. But in Corinth, the new believers had carried over their worldly thinking about who was most important into the church. They thought that people with spectacular gifts were superior to those whose service for the Lord was not often seen; and those abilities which seemed more delicate or sensitive were inferior to gifts which robustly displayed God's power.
Their attitude was causing divisions in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10): some proudly claimed spiritual superiority while others felt unloved and unwanted. So Paul rebuked them and reminded them that they were all parts of Christ's body. Those who were discerning should not belittle those who served practically. The head, which represents Christ (Ephesians 5:23) cannot declare the feet (perhaps people who travelled and so were not always in the fellowship meetings) to be unnecessary. No doubt, Paul was also speaking to the church leaders, who were responsible for setting the ethos of the church, as well as members.
Some body parts are private but have essential functions. Their lack of publicity does not make them unimportant; but it is not important for them to have publicity. In the same way, God equally values each gift He has given, entrusting different gifts to different people, and training them how to use them. Paul's teaching was part of that instruction which would also heal divisions and re-establish the priority of love as the basis of relationships within the church. Genuine care, by each member of all the others, binds the church together as a unit.
Proud hearts will latch onto anything to achieve their goals, even God's gifts. In the same way that an attractive person may think himself or herself better than a plain or disfigured individual, people whose spiritual gifts are publically evident may despise those whose gifts are used more privately. That attitude will wreck a church. Trust evaporates as defensiveness and suspicion take its place. It is wrong because we dishonour God who gives each gift intentionally to each person in the church. When we apply worldly distinctions to God's actions we show that we do not understand Him or the nature of His Kingdom. So do not write off what God has written into the lives of other believers.

Lord God. Thank You for giving special abilities to every person who has received Christ, so that Your kingdom may be built. Forgive me for applying worldly judgement to other people's love and service for You, dishonouring You and them. Please help me to see the specialness of every person who You have called, valuing their abilities to serve You and caring for them with genuine love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams