Note from Jesus

Dear Member of My Body,

At the beginning of the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul is about to address the chaos that had resulted from the Corinthians’ selfish approach to using their spiritual gifts:

Now let me turn to some issues about spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters. There’s much you need to learn.

(1 Corinthians 12:1)

He makes sure his readers know what he is about to say is corrective as well as informative. He wants them to know that while they thought they excelled in knowledge, they really didn’t understand the most important principles about spiritual gifts.

Paul wants all the believers in Corinth to understand that, just as a human body has many parts that function together as one body, the same is true in My church. Each person has spiritual gifts to use, but each person should use them as part of My body to bless the rest of the body. The Corinthian disciples needed to realize that none of them should try to appear, feel, or act as more important than other persons who are also vital parts of My body.

God the Father is the One Who gives each part of My body its functions. He gives each person the gifts He wants each one to have with specific tasks that each part of the body is to perform. Each part needs the rest of the body to exist and function properly, so there should be no talk about which person or gift is most important. There should be no pride or arrogance exhibited by anyone. Each person is given gifts by God, by grace, not based on her or his own merit. Each is given what she or he is given to be a blessing to the rest of the body, not to bring glory to herself or himself.

In a physical body, when one part of the body is hurt or ill, then the rest of the body is impacted. This effect should also be true in My body, the church. When one part of My body is suffering, other parts of the body should suffer with the ailing part. All parts of My body should work together to help, heal, and bless the ailing part. Rather than one part exalting itself, each body part should show greater concern for other parts. The goal is that all parts of the body will work together, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to do My work in the world.

So before tomorrow when you will begin Paul’s discussion about spiritual gifts and the need for unity and love, I want you to carefully read these verses below. Notice Paul’s emphasis on unity, grace, interconnectedness, devotion, and care. Any practice of spiritual gifts that leads to personal exaltation or leaves out these principles is going to bring chaos, conflict, and division.

Verses to Live

A human body is comprised of many parts, and so is My body, the church. Each part of the body — each person in My church — is vital and precious. Each should bless other body parts, lead others to Me, and help My body, the church, share My grace with the lost world. Concerning gifts that are given by the Spirit, Paul said:

Now to each one [each believer] the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

(1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV)

Just as a body is one whole made up of many different parts, and all the different parts comprise the one body, so it is with the Anointed One. We were all… washed through baptism together into one body by one Spirit. No matter our heritage — Jew or Greek, insider or outsider — no matter our status — oppressed or free — we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Here’s what I mean: the body is not made of one large part but of many different parts. Would it seem right for the foot to cry, “I am not a hand, so I couldn’t be part of this body”? Even if it did, it wouldn’t be any less joined to the body. And what about an ear? If an ear started to whine, “I am not an eye; I shouldn’t be attached to this body,” in all its pouting, it is still part of the body. Imagine the entire body as an eye. How would a giant eye be able to hear? And if the entire body were an ear, how would an ear be able to smell?

This is where God comes in. God has meticulously put this body together; He placed each part in the exact place to perform the exact function He wanted. If all members were a single part, where would the body be? So now, many members function within the one body. The eye cannot wail at the hand, “I have no need for you,” nor could the head bellow at the feet, “I won’t go one more step with you.” It’s actually the opposite. The members who seem to have the weaker functions are necessary to keep the body moving; the body parts that seem less important we treat as some of the most valuable; and those unfit, untamed, unpresentable members we treat with an even greater modesty. That’s something the more presentable members don’t need. But God designed the body in such a way that greater significance is given to the seemingly insignificant part. That way there should be no division in the body; instead, all the parts mutually depend on and care for one another.

If one part is suffering, then all the members suffer alongside it. If one member is honored, then all the members celebrate alongside it. You are the body of the Anointed, the Liberating King; each and every one of you is a vital member.

(1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

Because of the grace allotted to me, I can respectfully tell you not to think of yourselves as being more important than you are; devote your minds to sound judgment since God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith. For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too — the many — are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.

(Romans 12:3-5)

Response in Prayer

O Father, bless the congregation in which You have placed me. Help me as I humbly seek to use my gifts to serve You and to bless others. Guard my heart from pride. Humble me gently when I am self-seeking in the use of my gifts. I want Jesus honored, His work expanded, and His body built up so that together, we can function as His bodily presence in our time. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.