1 Corinthians 12: 12 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The human body is a masterpiece. It is made up of a variety of cohesive systems including the: circulatory, digestive, reproductive, muscular, nervous, skeletal, and respiratory systems. Each system, in itself, is a complex group of organs and tissues that work together to perform important jobs for the body. The brain on its own is a remarkable supercomputer. Isaac Asimov apparently described it as “the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe”. Watching the various parts of the body working together is such a pleasure and sports is often a beautiful display opportunity. Watch a clip of Rhythmic gymnast Boyanka Agelova doing a ball routine, and you get an idea of the remarkable things a body can do.
In today’s scripture from 1 Corinthians 12, Paul appeals to the church in Corinth by using the analogy of the parts of the body. I have heard it preached and taught many times over the years and it has generally been in the context of the importance of church members having their own distinct place in the church and their own distinct tasks. While there is truth to this, it is very important to read the entire chapter to understand the context of Paul’s analogy. There is no doubt, he is talking about “Spiritual Gifts”. “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
Paul goes on to explain that there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they come from the same Spirit (vs. 4). In fact, if you refer to three separate scripture passages, you can find 18 unique gifts of the spirit listed. 1 Corinthians 12: 8-10 lists nine spiritual gifts (wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues). Romans 12: 4-8 names a further 6 spiritual gifts (serving, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership and showing mercy), and Ephesians 4: 11-13 lists 3 further gifts not mentioned previously (apostleship, evangelism and pastoring).
We are given spiritual gifts not simply for our own good, but for the body of Christ; Paul called it the “common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). These gifts are meant to be a service to the church. But what if we choose not to use our spiritual gifts or instead try to operate in an area that is not our gifting? We may say, “no one notices me serving at the church potlucks, I’d rather be on stage in leadership”. Paul addresses this.
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. (1 Corinthians 12: 15-20)
It is critical for each believer to identify their spiritual gifts, and then to use these gifts for the benefit of the body. Imagine playing soccer with four arms and no legs. Imagine playing baseball with four ears and no eyes. If you are not using the spiritual gifts God has given you, you are handicapping the body of Christ, and since you have been created to serve God you will feel unfulfilled and frustrated. Your local church may be able to assist you in identifying your spiritual gifts or you may want to look into online resources such as from ChurchGrowth.org and take their free survey. Choose today to find and use your spiritual gifts. The body needs you.