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1 Corinthians 12 – One Body, Many Parts

August 10th, 2010

Paul is dealing with another issue in the Corinthian church – how they have misunderstood and mishandled the things of the Holy Spirit. They have become sensationalists, becoming obsessed with spiritual and mystical ideas, with having simply an “experience” void of any meaning or purpose. They have also become competitive, having rivalry with spiritual gifts, being proud in how “gifted” they were.

But spiritual gifts are for a purpose and a goal. This is why the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts:

1. To honour Jesus

  • You can only say that Jesus is Lord from the heart by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Likewise you can’t curse Jesus from the heart if you have the Spirit.
  • The Spirit wants to bring about the Lordship and worship of Christ in people’s hearts.
  • The Spirit brings about revelation of Jesus – who He is and the fact that He’s alive
  • Jesus gets a lot of attention when the Holy Spirit turns up. Jesus sent us the Helper who would bring an awareness of Jesus wherever the Spirit goes.
  • The Holy Spirit is God and should be worshipped as such, and yet He brings attention to the Father and the Son.
  • We don’t worship spirituality, or even just focus only on the Spirit, but God Himself in all He is.
  • The Spirit works powerfully when Jesus is honoured and worshipped and enjoyed and exalted.

2. For the common good

  • Same Lord, same Spirit, same Body.
  • All of us are who are in Christ are given the same manifestation of the Spirit.
  • Spiritual gifts and abilities are for the good of others and the building of the Body. It’s bigger than just you – it’s for the Church.
  • The gifts are to server – otherwise they’re not a gift!
  • Paul uses the analogy of a body – you become part of it automatically when you come to Christ
  • You only hurt yourself if you damage the Body, the same if you hurt one part of your body, there is a knock-on effect on the rest of yourself.
  • We need to live for the overall purpose of the Church.
  • Don’t be a cancer! This is someone who only lives for their own purpose, draining the Body of time and energy. Don’t just be a consumer – be a part of the answer and the solution.
  • The part you play is vital for the Body. A healthy body is where every part plays its correct role. How are you functioning?

This deals with two problems:

1. Self pity (v.15-17)

  • We need to resist feeling like we are not a part of the Body just because we don’t have a particular gift or are not a particular part of the Body.
  • We are not called to be the same as each other – not called to do what others are called to do.
  • We fall into self pity when we can’t do the same thing or be like someone we admire and measure as the idea of a successful Christian. Don’t give into gift envy!
  • Be the most useful version of yourself by the grace of God, to the blessing of the Body. Don’t waste your time trying to be something you’re not!
  • God custom-designed us each for a specific purpose. Eph 2 – we are His workmanship, created for good works which He prepared in advance.
  • You learn what your purpose and role is by trial and error.
  • Help others find out what they’re meant to do – tell them what they’re good at (and be brave enough to tell them what they might not be so gifted in).
  • You won’t find out what you were meant to do if you’re not in the Church!

2. Superiority (v.21-23)

  • We are totally wrong when we identify importance with profile.
  • The last shall be first, the first shall be last.
  • Your gift is not there to make you more public. That may happen anyway, but don’t idolise fame and profile.
  • Give honour to the “lesser parts”. Outdo one another in showing honour to others – be competitive about that!

Self pity and superiority are both issues of the same root problem – a security that is not found in Christ. Find your security in Him – not in how good you are at doing particular things. God could take away your gift at any time, or bring someone along who is more gifted in the same thing as you. Ensure your identity is firmly built on Christ!