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The Church and Spiritual Gifts

(1 Corinthians 12:4-20,26)

Lesson 7 -- second quarter 2000
April 16, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Evangelism and nurture are the two basic ministries of the church. I wonder what kind of grade we would get if we scored all our church activities by these criteria. Would we fare any better in thus evaluating our personal activities?

Why bring up evangelism and nurture in the context of spiritual gifts? Because we need to see gifts as given to fulfill these callings. God gave gifts to the church so that we might be equipped to evangelize the world and edify His people wherever they may be!

Years ago a man willed thousands of dollars to our congregation...and designated the use for those funds. To this day, we continue bound by his stated purpose for his gift. We do not use that money for anything else. Shall we do any differently with the gifts God has given the church? God forbid we misuse or misapply the gifts He has given us!

Not only do gifts have the potential for misuse or misapplication, they also have the potential to divide the church. Imagine that! What God has given for blessing, equipping and unifying could actually become a curse, a hindrance and a source of division. Like this, "I have no need of you" and this, "Since I am not..., I am not of the body." I suggest to you that this superiority and this inferiority both equally reveal an independent spirit.

An independent spirit pulls away from the whole as well as from individual elements of that whole. The sense of superiority draws away toward independence because it esteems itself as self-sufficient and self-contained. The perception of inferiority, on the other hand, chooses independence by being unwilling to contribute even the little it (thinks it) has been given. Take the area of teaching as just one example. The "inferior" complains, "Since I can't teach like she does, I just won't help out" (see verses 15 and 16). The "superior" exults, "Since he doesn't teach like I do, I don't need to listen to him" (see verse 21). Both are wrong. Both grieve the Head. Both defy the Giver. Surely we can see that in comparing ourselves among ourselves, we get a distorted image of ourselves. So let's look into the Word for an accurate view of ourselves.

We need to remember that "God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." We must not forget that it is God Himself that has "tempered the body together." And He did it so the whole body might be "fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part" (Ephesians 4:16).

The devil would like to use our spiritual gifts to turn us against and away from each other. God wants our gifts to unite us and to enhance in us that sense of dependence on and appreciation for one another.

Let's ask God to teach us and enable us to use His gifts to us as He wishes.

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