1 Corinthians 12

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 12

We’ve seen already that the Corinthian church was divided by opinions about teachers such as Paul and Apollos and by distinctions between the wealthy and the poor. Another divisive item in the church was spiritual gifts, particularly miraculous spiritual gifts (vv. 1-11). Miraculous powers, especially the gift of tongues seems to have become a way to rank who was the most spiritual in the church.

In this chapter Paul taught the Corinthians that spiritual gifts are… gifts. That is, they are not earned or developed by a believer who then has the right to feel proud. Instead, different gifts are distributed by the Spirit of God (vv. 4-5) and for his purposes not for our pride (vv. 6-11).

The analogy Paul used to teach this was the human body (vv. 12-27). Like the human body, the church needs different people exercising different gifts for the health of the entire body of Christ. I never think about my spleen, but I’m glad I have one; likewise, there are people in our body who have very public gifts and others whose service to the Lord’s body is invisible but vital.

How has God uniquely gifted you to serve him by helping his church? Have you figured out what you have to contribute and found a place to make that contribution?

Going further, God gave leaders to the church to serve his body (vv. 28-29). We know from other passages that church leaders and to defend the church, instruct the church, and equip the church. If you don’t know what your gift is, need help developing or finding a place to use it, that’s one of the reasons why we’re here. So, let’s talk.

One major undercurrent in this chapter, which will be developed more in the next, is that whatever our gift or role in the body is, we’re here to give ourselves for the good of the body. Our gifts and ministries are to serve not to be exalted. This is something we need to be reminded about continually because of our natural tendencies toward pride. If you find yourself drawn to a ministry because you like the attention that ministry brings you, it is time to humble yourself before the Lord and ask him to give you a true servant’s heart.