May 26: Gifts for the Common Good (1 Cor. 12:4-11)
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (ESV)
This passage teaches us that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) gives gifts to each one who says, "Jesus is Lord" (v. 3). In other words, all who consider Jesus to be their master have a role to play in building up the community of faith. Some will serve as teachers or pastors and others will serve by demonstrating hospitality and excelling in mercy. Each of these "spiritual gifts" is not merely a special ability someone has, but is actually best understood as a concrete expression of God's grace. Thus the gifts are not for personal fulfillment, but are given so that the entire body--and even those outside the body--may see the glory and wisdom of God through the way that his church functions in unity.
Review and Apply
- How would you define "spiritual gift" based on the way Paul uses the term is Romans 12:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-30; and Ephesians 4:4-16?
- In what way(s) are you serving in the power of God for the good of the body? Have you considered this a spiritual gift?
- What can you do this week to encourage another member of this body who has displayed God's grace to you and/or the whole church through their service?
- Why is it important for a diversity of gifts to be used in the church?
- How might those who are outside the body of Christ still benefit from Christians who humbly and joyfully exercise their spiritual gifts?
- Children: What can you do to serve another person this week?