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First Corinthians 12 speaks to us about spiritual gifts. We learn in this passage that every believer has a manifestation of the Holy Spirit who resides in them through a gifting that He provides. Sometimes, we might have the gift of teaching, sometimes wisdom, sometimes miracles or sometimes one of the other gifts mentioned throughout the Bible. Whatever God wants us to “specialize” in, the Spirit gives us the gift (or gifts) to do it. Remember though, our gifting is for the edification of others and not for our own fame, or our recognition in any way. First Corinthians 12:7 says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” We must remember that our spiritual gift is for others from God Himself (I Cor. 12:11), so there is no reason to be prideful, just thankful that God placed His gifting in us.
Since our gifting is for others, First Corinthians 12 goes on to describe our gifts in the church working together as a human body. Verses 14-27 say, “So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole ⌊body⌋ were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary… Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”
As I was thinking about our gifts the last few days, I realized that due to our gifting, all Christians will see things differently. Not only are we supposed to be working together for God’s glory, but due to our different placements in the Body we will naturally see things differently. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing depending on whether our focus is on God, or ourselves. For example, if my placement in the Body is an eye, I will be able to see things that others cannot. If I am an ear, I will be able to hear God’s voice in a way that others cannot. If I am a foot, I will see the need to go in a way that the ear and the eye will not understand in their own strength; but, the ear and the eye will see and hear about dangers and good opportunities for the feet to go. All of us working together can get the whole Body moving in the right direction at the right time according to God’s will, if we listen to each other’s perspective.
I do realize that all of us working together, listening to each other’s perspectives and trusting that each is hearing from the Lord takes a great deal of faith. I realize that a lot of “what ifs” come in to play. What if the eye is only seeing themselves and not focused on the Lord? What if the ear can only hear what man is saying? What if the feet will not move in the direction God is calling? On and on it can go and does go. The only control we have over the situation is doing our part.
If I am an eye, I must make sure that my vision is clouded with only God’s face. I must, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, remove the beam and the splinter from my own eye (Matthew 7), so I can see what God wants for the Body as a whole. I need to not give my perspective until I am sure it is what God wants me to see.
If I am an ear, I must be certain that I am hearing God’s voice clearly. I need to know His voice so intimately that I can not only hear His thundering voice, but the quietest whisper as well. Again, I need to not share my viewpoint until I know God is speaking.
If I am a foot, I need to make sure that my feet are shod with the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6:15) and that I am ready whenever God says to go. I don’t need to run off on my own agenda, but realize that others are following. I need to remember that feet lead and I need to guide others only on God’s paths of righteousness as Psalm 23:3 says.
The other area I can control is my understanding of God’s people. I need to give grace to the eyes that cannot hear as clearly, if I’m an ear. I need to understand that an ear is not going to see things as clearly and quickly if I’m an eye. I also need to be patient with the eyes and ears if I’m a foot. I need to realize that they need to know where they are going before they make the first step. I can pray for understanding of God’s Body and their perspective. God made them and gifted them, so He can help us understand them and love them as He loves them.
Another area of control in this journey of working together as the Body of Christ is that we can be trustworthy. If our churches only see us when we want something, or have “heard from God”, they are naturally not going to be as receptive to us as they would be to someone who has been in the trenches with them praying, learning and growing. We need to be worthy of the Body’s trust. We can only gain and maintain this trust by being in a close relationship with our Father every day. The Enemy is sneaky and he will place things in our sight, our hearing, or our path that will look good, but only having a close relationship with our Lord can alert us to the deception. When others see our relationship with our God, they know we can be trusted to see, hear, or go as God desires.
We also need to be careful with people’s trust once we have it. If we feel like God is speaking to us to edify the Church, we must be sure. God does not mind giving confirmation if it comes from a place of trust and love for His people. When He gets angry is when we are asking for confirmation as an excuse to not obey. I think that’s the difference between Gideon and Moses in the Old Testament. Gideon did not want to go into a battle without the assurance that it was God’s will, but once he had it…WHAM! No going back! Let’s be like Gideon. When we hear God, let’s be sure and then…WHAM! Let’s never turn back!
The Body of Christ is not an easy thing to be involved with and I am so glad that God alone fits us all together. He has called us to work together as one, trust each another and depend solely on Him to make it work. Shew! Aren’t you glad it’s not up to us to figure it all out? Knowing our position, having grace for each other’s perspectives and being trustworthy is in our control. Let’s do our part by being in constant communion with Him and let Him deal with the rest from His perspective!
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