Summary: Why spiritual gifts are important, and how they should be used to honor and bless God.
June 23, 2002
How valuable are spiritual gifts in the Christian family? Let’s see if we can make a comparison with a contemporary setting. Step on the airplane with me a moment. Hook up your seat belt; settle back for a flight. The pilot turns on the intercom: "This is your captain speaking. The reason your ticket was so much cheaper is that we have done away with the people you never see - the maintenance men who service the airplane, the navigator who is only needed on foggy nights like tonight, and the air-traffic controller up in the tower. We also didn’t think it was necessary to have those security people checking for weapons. Have a nice flight."
You would not want to be on that flight, would you? Paul was a leader who recognized the importance each part plays in making up the whole of a Christian family.
12The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit.
14Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything?
18But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. 19What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! 20Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. 23And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, 24while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. 26If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. 28Here is a list of some of the members that God has placed in the body of Christ:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who can get others to work together,
those who speak in unknown languages.
29Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? 30Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! 31And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts.
First Corinthians 12.12-31 -- The New Living Translation
Paul makes the point that each spiritual gift is essential and linked. We have gifts that are tied together.
The one who speaks in an unknown tongue needs an interpreter.
The helper needs a leader.
The prophet has need for those who hold him accountable.
Over and again Paul states the obvious for effect – all parts of the body are connected, and we are inter-dependent.
Now, that is the description of a healthy body. Too often the church, even the most gifted group, operates in an unhealthy mode.
In order to prevent the unhealthy church approach to spiritual gifts, our last study began to explore what each of us can, and should be doing about the gifts God has placed within our lives. Here is a brief thumbnail to help us remember. We said we should
…Identify our own gifts. It’s better to use your gift than someone else’s.
…Involve our gifts. Serving is the point. Gifts are tools meant to be used, not collector’s items.