Last week we started a new series entitled Gifted, were we started looking into Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. We found, like a puzzle, that although there are many kinds of gifts, they are derived from the same source. Most likely unless you were looking for an act in futility you would never start a puzzle that had pieces from different sets (no shared source). It would only work if you put the puzzle together with some scissors, glue, and a hammer. Kind of a messy approach! Thankfully Paul moves us from focusing on the source of spiritual gifts to the purpose which they make possible. Let’s continue in our text from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12.
In verse 7, Paul is very direct and reveals –Many manifestations, one common good! 1 Cor. 12:7-11 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.
Again we see the unity and uniqueness—the ability for spiritual gifts to be expressed in ways that meet the specific needs of a community, congregation, or troubling circumstances constantly with the common good in mind. Oftentimes, you can talk to people who get genetic ability confused with spiritual gifts, unlike genetics which derives from your parents’ chromosomes, Spirit gifts come from God, for the purposes of God!
After World War II ended, a group of German students volunteered to help rebuild a Cathedral in London. It had been severely damaged by bombing. They did well with most of the Cathedral, except one statue that had been broken into many pieces…a marble statue of Jesus. It once stood, with Christ standing with arms outstretched. The inscription under it read, “Come unto me.” They were able to find and reconstruct the entire statue, except for the hands, which had been completely demolished. When finished, they had a statue of Jesus with outstretched arms, and no hands. They couldn’t decide what to do…make new hands? Or leave it as it was? They decided to leave it be…but they changed the inscription… it now says, “He has no hands but ours.” (www.sermonillustrations.com)
The fruit of the Spirit is found in the purpose of being the hands of Christ, fulfilling the will of the Father! 1 Peter 4:10 reinforces this saying, “10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Unfortunately, in our fallen world we take blessings from God and turn them into barriers to God. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking more highly of our gifts, judging ourselves on motivation and others on outcomes. In fact, we thrive on ranking, top 10 plays, comparing ourselves against others. A quick Google search reveals —the top 10 best plays of the day, the top 10 people whose dogs inherited their fortune, and the top 10 people who became unwilling cannibals (don’t invite them to Thanksgiving). For the people in Corinth they were ready to list the top 10 spiritual gifts always beginning with their own, and yet Paul makes clear that these gifts of the spirit aren’t ranked in importance, but the importance is found in the Spirit by which they derive.
We have been gifted for the common good, but you may ask whose common good? As the church we are reminded who is the head, the mind, and the heart of the church- Christ! The giver is not only the means of the Good News, but God’s will through Christ, can successfully become our will!