Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Earnestly Desire the Most Helpful Gifts.

1Cor. 12:24b-31a NLT 
   24b So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 
   27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: 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 have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.
    29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31a  So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. 

The verses just prior to our section today, describe the interrelationship of all parts of a human body and how all are necessary and none are more prominent than others. Paul was trying to tell the Corinthian church members about the necessity of unity before God in the church. There were problems in that church that rival today's churches challenges as well. We have to deal with pride and arrogance within our ranks. We are tempted to talk down another member as a means of upspeaking ourselves. We are tempted to criticize others as a way of promoting ourselves. We are often very subtle and cleaver about doing this so that others get sucked into the conversation without art first realizing the problem they are joining.

Paul's illustration of the human body makes it plain what Christ intends for His church. He intends interrelation and unity. He intends harmony and singleness of purpose. He intends HIS love to characterize the attitudes of every member within the church toward every other. And, He intends this for his WHOLE church not just our local congregation.

Notice how he organized the church categories of roles. These are categories rather than levels of authority and value or importance. They each simply have different roles and responsibilities according to personal gifting.
  1. first are apostles,
  2. second are prophets,
  3. third are teachers,
  4. then:
  • those who do miracles,
  • those who have the gift of healing,
  • those who can help others,
  • those who have the gift of leadership,
  •  those who speak in unknown languages.
 We have administrative leaders who can humble exercise high levels of authority and responsibility. We have those who are called upon to interpret the word of God and speak to others about it. We have those who are gifted in ways that help others to learn how to walk with Christ. Then we have various ministries of service to others: miracle workers, healers, helpers, task leaders, and speakers of things heretofore unknown as they are lead by God. These categories cover all of the tasks, jobs, functions for lay persons and professional ministry. In fact, in the early church there were no professional ministers. There were only those called by God to go outside their comfort zone and build faith in others traveling from place to place. They were church planters, evangelists, all moving about the face of the globe as the Spirit of God led them. The point is this is God's Church built upon Jesus Christ and we are all privileged to have roles within this 'body life' as God calls. What ministry is God calling you to do?
Your servant in Christ's Ministry

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