19 Jun 2022
Spiritual gifts are given by God so that we may serve the body of Christ. We should use them humbly, gratefully & faithfully. So when the Corinthians were flaunting their more prominent gifts and despising others who do not share the same gifts, Paul sets out to show them that error. Using the simple but most apt illustration of the human body, he shows the diversity, unity, synergy & interdependency of the local church. He proves that we need one another, especially those who have different spiritual gifts, and there is no place for pride or arrogance. I hope you will be encouraged to see spiritual gifts in a new light and find great joy in discovering and deploying your spiritual gifts for the good of the church and the glory of God.
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I'd like to first wish all our fathers here, a very blessed Father's Day. I'm a father myself, and I understand fatherhood as a journey of trials and tribulations, but it's also one of deep joy and satisfaction.
We are thankful to God for this privilege to lead a new generation to know Him. And I pray that in our families, we will not only provide for our children physically, intellectually or socially, but that we will pray most of all for them spiritually.
"What profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul," so may we be praying, modeling, directing our children, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust that you are going to have a wonderful celebration, some meal somewhere. But more than that, may this remind us of this holy stewardship, God has entrusted to us.
Like a father, the apostle Paul loves the people in the church at Corinth, and wants to help them walk in the way of truth. So in the book of 1st Corinthians, we see a lot of corrective efforts, and today we come to the subject of spiritual gifts. Paul had been struggling to ... to wrap his head around why these people are living in such carnality and selfishness. We come now to the selfishness being expressed in the realm of spiritual gifts.
The problem there was that there were at least some of them, priding themselves and flaunting their more prominent spiritual gifts. To such a degree that others may feel despised, because they do not share the same spiritual gifts. We looked at this subject last week, and I like to remind us of some of the fundamentals we have established.
We looked at the who of spiritual gifts - Who should receive spiritual gifts? The Bible is very clear, every believer will, at least, will have at least one spiritual gift.
We also looked at the definition of spiritual gifts - What is a spiritual gift? We defined it to be a Spirit-given ability to serve the church with ease, excitement, and effectiveness. Why ease, effectiveness and excitement? Well, because that's what you are going to be good at, if God has gifted you with something. That's what you will be good at, so using that to serve God should be something that is relatively easy, exciting for you, and something that is effective for others.
I like to distinguish spiritual gifts from talents. Talents are what you're born with, so some of you are talented in some areas of life. That's not quite a spiritual gift, if that is something you were born with. A spiritual gift is something you were not good at before you came to know Christ, but now you become good at. So, the temporal sequence is the main distinguishing factor.
You see, some people think that I can only serve God with spiritual gifts. That's not quite true! We are to serve God with everything we have. Gifts, talents, networks, resources, whatever that may be, all are to be used for the glory of God.
So we can serve God with talents, some of you are talented in music, some of you are talented in computer. That doesn't mean you can't use them to serve God, instead, I say, "Use them to serve God." But spiritual gifts are Spirit-given abilities, they're not natural-born abilities.
And then it's also important to distinguish spiritual gifts from fruit. Spiritual gifts are largely abilities — prophecy, teaching, hospitality, administrating, helps. They are abilities, whereas fruit is more about character. You read that in Galatians 5 - love, joy, peace and so on and so forth.
Where should we use our spiritual gifts? Largely in the Church of Jesus Christ. God has given spiritual gifts for the common good of the church.
When will I know my spiritual gifts? How would I know that? Well, God is not going to send you an email that says, "Hey, John! These are your spiritual gifts." No email, no WhatsApp, you can't even ask your pastor because your pastor doesn't know you as well as you will know yourself. We also should not know spiritual gifts from surveys or questionnaires.
I think the best way to discovering your spiritual gifts, is when you start serving the people of God. And when you serve in different areas, you start to find out what is easy, relatively easy, what is exciting for you, and what is effective for people. And perhaps in the midst of serving, you would discover more accurately your spiritual giftings.
And then, why are you gifted with such spiritual gifts? Is it because you are smarter? Is it because you are better? Is it because you are somehow more moral than others, therefore you have such prominent gifts? The Bible makes it clear that it is the Holy Spirit who gives or distributes the gifts as He wills.
In other words, you are given spiritual gifts, not because you are good, huh, not because you're better, not because you deserve it, not because you worked for it. But because God has seen it fit in His sovereign plan to distribute as such.
So it's not because we are good, but it's given so that you may serve for the common good. There is no place therefore for arrogance and pride, when we truly understand spiritual gifts and the distribution of them.
Then finally, how are we to use our spiritual gifts? If they are given by God, not because of who we are or what we have done, then let us use our spiritual gifts, humbly, gratefully and faithfully. Super important that God's people should discover their spiritual gifts and use them, because it is such a waste, if you never discovered your spiritual gifts, and you never use them, because you are kind of bypassing or ignoring God's design for your life.
So these are the who, what, where, when, why, how of what we need to understand from last week, but the church at Corinth as mentioned, did not follow this. They were not humble or grateful nor faithful in spiritual gifts, they were abusive. Because they prided themselves and they vaunted about their gifts, and thereby create an unhealthy class divide in the church.
There's a sense of elitism for those who have the more prominent gifts, and there is a despising and side-lining of those who have the less prominent gifts. So Paul, last week as we looked at in verses 1 to 11, had to establish this one theological understanding — that even though we all have different spiritual gifts, we all are blessed or are partakers of the same Spirit.
It is the same Holy Spirit, who works in our hearts to bring about that conviction, that convincement that Jesus is Lord, and that is really the mark of the Christian man or woman! It's not the possession of some unique, prominent spiritual gifts. So Paul lays that down, so that the people will understand, "Hey, I may be different from you, you may be different from me in spiritual gifting, but we all belong to Jesus. We are all blessed of the same spirit, and therefore we should not marginalize or despise one another."
Now, that is already, I think quite a clear theological premise, but in order to make this even clearer, and to add more depth to Paul's argument, he now gives us an illustration of the human body. It's a very simple illustration, but a very apt one. Paul is saying, "Different Christians are like different parts of the human body — the hand, the feet, the eye, the ear, the nose, all different but all joined into one body. And different body parts will have different levels of prominence, but every body part has importance in the grand scheme of the human body."
The hand cannot say to the feet or the foot, "Oh, because you're not like me, you do not belong!" Huh, there's a place for the hand, and there's a place for the foot. So with this simple but powerful illustration, we're going to see how Paul will then apply it to the church. So today, we're going to look at "Spiritual Gifts & The Body of Christ" as exemplified, perhaps in a human body.
Let's dive into the words that Paul gives.
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ." [1 Cor 12:12] We now know clearly that Paul is given ... giving us an illustration, an example, the human body. And he says, "This is with Christ." Now, when we see the word, 'Christ,' I think we must take it to be the short-form or the short-condensation of the Body of Christ, the Church of Christ, because verse 27, makes that clear. Now, "You are the body of Christ."
So, what Paul is saying here is a simple, logical comparison. There are many different parts in the body, and they all form this one body, so it is with the church, many different peoples form the church. The church is not made up of a homogeneous group of people, the church is made up of a very diverse group of people.
So he says, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit." [1 Cor 12:13] The point here is very simple — very different peoples are joined together in the local church. You can't get more diverse than Jews, huh, versus the Greeks! They are not really friends, they don't really like each other, but they are joined together as one in a church! You can't get further in social economic status than a free man and a slave, but they are joined together as one in the church. So the church is one united people, but a very diverse people.
When we read the word, 'baptized,' it's very easy for us to immediately jump to think and to assume, it's about water baptism. But not necessarily, the word, 'baptized' means to be immersed, an idea here is — even though you are from India or Philippines or Singapore, or Malaysia, China, even though you are a university graduate, or ITE student, even though you are a carpenter or a lawyer, we are all immersed spiritually by the Spirit into the body of Christ.
"And we are all made to drink of the Spirit." [1 Cor 12:13] That is to say, we are all partakers of the work of the Spirit, blessings of the Spirit in our lives. So at the point of your salvation, at the time you trusted Christ as your Savior, a wonderful spiritual dynamic took place. Oh, you are born again! You are changed! God takes away your old heart, gives you a new heart! But at the same time, you are incorporated spiritually into the Body of Christ. So, the church is a united people made up of a diverse people.
Now, Paul goes on to say, "For the body does not consist of one member, but of many." [1 Cor 12:14] The inference here is — the body does not consist of one kind of member, but of many kinds of members.
Because he goes on to say, "If the foot should say, "Because I'm not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body." [1 Cor 12:15] So, there's a personification here. The foot here is taking on a human voice, "Oh, I am not like the hand, and therefore I do not belong!" Of course not, you belong! Just because you're not like everyone else, just because you're not like someone else, doesn't mean you do not belong, because the body is made up of diverse peoples." Of course, you belong!
"Oh, just because you don't have ... I don't have these prominent gifts means I'm not part of the church. "No, of course you belong!" The body is made up of different peoples and people with different spiritual gifts.
Likewise, the ear should say, "And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body."' [1 Cor 12:16]
So, so far I think it's a very simple point, Paul is emphasizing here — there is diversity in the church, and there is unity there. The church is made up of a people who are very different, but we are not to be divided. Or, we are united even though we are not uniform. That's what church should be, not a uniform group of people, but a diverse group of people, united because of Jesus.
Paul develops his argument further, "If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?" [1 Cor 12:17] The assumption here is — for a body to function optimally, it cannot be just one organ that performs one function. For the body to functioning optimally, it requires different many different functions to operate at the same time. So that, it is a functional body as a whole.
"So if the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?" [1 Cor 12:17] If all you could do is to see, how to hear, because hearing is important to the functioning of the body.
"Likewise, if the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?" [1 Cor 12:17] "But as it is, God, in His infinite wisdom, arranged the members in the body, each one of them as He chose." [1 Cor 12:18] So, we are all different because we have different functions, different roles to play. And it is God's wisdom to place us right, where we are in the right numbers, in the right proportions for the effective functioning of the local church, just like the human body.
"If all were a single member, where would the body be?" [1 Cor 12:19] This is quite a comical picture, isn't it? If the preacher standing before you is all a mouth, I don't have eyes, I don't have hands but just mouth. Many mouths. Mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth, mouth. One blob of mouth, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! That's a monstrosity, not a preacher! That's the idea there!
I mean it's ridiculous, if you want your whole church to be all speaking in tongues, what kind of a body that would be! That is the inference Paul is making.
"As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." [1 Cor 12:21] Because we all need one another! For the body to function optimally, we need one another and all the body parts need to work together, to cooperate together.
So, I think Paul's point here is in a church, not only is there diversity, not only is there unity, there must be synergy that we all work together. The body needs the hand, the eye, the feet, the stomach, the heart to work together to do what the body needs to do.
I think this poem may help:
You are a hand
And you are grand.
You can type or sew or write,
And play a guitar all night.
But I'm just a foot, a lousy foot.
Wrapped in this smelly sock,
And stuffed in this dirty shoe,
O, how I wish that I were you.
Well, I'll never get to shake feet with my neighbors
Or paint a pretty picture or hang it on the wall.
But I guess you'll never find your guitar
If you didn't have me to take you down the hall.
So I guess we really need each other
To do what the Lord has planned for us to do.
'Cause if He didn't want us, brother,
I know He wouldn't have never stuck me here with you.
You are a mouth,
And what a mouth.
You can talk or eat or sing,
In fact, do 'most anything.
But I'm just an ear,
Covered by people's hair.
And mothers make kids washed behind there
"Cause I'm full of lots of goo-ooh!
Oh, how I wish that I were you.
Well, I never get to sing at Christmas,
Or kiss my pretty sweetheart, or tell her I'll be true.
But I guess you will never know she loves us,
If she ...if she ever whispered those same words to you.
So you see, we really need each other
To do what the Lord has planned for us to do.
'Cause if we didn't work with each other,
The Lord will find some others to replace me and you!
The body needs different parts to work together. There must be a synergy that God has intended for the different members of the church.
That's not all, the illustration goes on. "On the contrary, the parts of the body that seemed to be weaker, are indispensable." [1 Cor 12:22] Now, when we read the word, 'weaker' here, we immediately think about power and strength and might, but that's not the case. You read on to verses 23 and 24, you'll understand that the word, 'weaker' here is referring to weakness in terms of your prominence or your presentability or honor.
So Paul is saying contextually, "The parts of the body that seem to be weaker in honor or prominence or presentability." So not as beautiful, not as nice. Paul says, "These kinds of parts of the body are actually indispensable." [1 Cor 12:22]
A story is told of different body parts, having a debate as to who is the most important. So the eye says, "I'm the most important because without me you can't see." The ear says, "I'm the most important because without me you can't hear." And everybody stakes a claim, until Mr. Backside says, "I'm the most important." Everybody laughs at Mr. backside, just like you had.
"Hah, huh, Mr. Backside, you're smelly, you're dirty, you're ugly!" And so Mr. Backside was very hurt, he felt so marginalized, he felt so aggrieved that he protested and said, "Alright, I'll shut up and see what happens to you." And after one month, all the members of the body came and kowtow [kneel in Hokkien] to Mr. ... Mr. Backside because they have been constipated for so long.
That just goes to show, nothing is really indispensable in the way God has designed the body. Those parts that seem to be weaker, not so beautiful, not so presentable, not so honored are indispensable. And so in the church, there'll be those who are more prominent in their giftings, and then, there'll be those who are not so prominent in their giftings. But let us not think that those who are prominent are indispensable, and those who are less prominent are dispensable. The reality is all have a purpose and role to play, and all are indispensable.
Paul not only talks about this, he talks about verse 23 and 24, that says, "On those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty." What is this? Awkward, maybe, but he's talking about the private areas of the human body. They're not so presentable, but the body understands that we need to provide it with greater protection and cover and modesty.
So there's nothing, Paul's point is — there's nothing there's no part of you that should be neglected or despised. In fact, those that are not so presentable, should get the greater attention.
"Which our more presentable parts do not require." [1 Cor 12:24a] He goes on to say, "But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it." [1 Cor 12:24b]
Now, it's not so easy to interpret this, but I suggest to you that, 'the part that lacked it,' let's understand what is it lacking?
The part that lacked honor and presentability, so there are body parts that are not so beautiful, they lack that honor, that presentability. And God has designed it that such parts that are not so beautiful, He gives greater honor. Now, Paul doesn't quite explain what this exactly means, but most assume that this is about giving such less presentable parts, more important functions and roles.
So I used to be a surgeon, uh, not surgeon, that I used to be working in a Surgical Department, and I guarantee you that you wouldn't really want to see what's on the inside, because the organs they are really quite ugly. I have never heard of someone who says, "Wah, what a beautiful liver!" Except when you're having steamboat. "Wah, this pancreas, so nice!" They are all ugly lah inside, you open up ah, it's oily. It's and it's really smelly! They are not presentable at all, but a lot of what's inside that are ugly are very important. Try living without some parts, huh!
So, I think that's the point that Paul is making here. Can, can you imagine if ... if God designed it another way. He ... He puts the important but ugly liver right up here [Pastor points to his head]. You walk around with a liver head, I mean, I don't think you will ever get married man, if you have a liver head. But thanks be to God, He puts the beautiful eyes, beautiful nose right way it is, so that, yup, the body looks good, as well! But that doesn't mean that the ugly parts are unimportant. That's the point!
So He designed it as such, so that, "There'll be no division in the body that, so that the members may have the same care for one another." [1 Cor 12:25] So we understand that even though they're ugly, we've got to take care of them. Even though they're not so beautiful, we've got to take care of them, because all are important.
"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." [1 Cor 12:26] Reminds me of a Chinese phrase, 唇亡齿寒 [chún wáng chǐ hán]. Hah, so many don't know! 唇亡齿寒 [chún wáng chǐ hán]， literally translated, lips die, teeth die or teeth become cold. So if you have no lips, if your lips die, 唇亡 [chún wáng] , 亡 [wáng] means die, your teeth will suffer, because they're so intimately related to each other.
I suppose you must have experienced stiff neck before, you wake up with a stiff neck, "Wah, super painful!" You know, it then affects your whole body, your balance is off, you don't function well. One part suffers, every part suffers! And that's the point, God has designed the local church to be inter ... intimately related with one another, and we really depend on one another.
So, this illustration shows us that the church is made up of a diverse group of people, but we are all joined together as one. But we do not just co-exist, as if we are together but have no relationship one with another. But we are meant, when we are together, to serve God together, to synergize, to be effective that way.
And not only to work together for the common cause, but we also help one another and depend on one another. So there is no place for anyone to say, "I have no need of you."
Now, this is not a biology class, this is not an anatomical lesson, this is a spiritual truth. And that's where Paul comes to verse 27, "Now ..." I said all that, huh, so that you know, " Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." [1 Cor 12:27]
The spiritual points we need to take note of are as follows -
Diversity, we are all different. Two - unity, yet, we are united in Christ, but not just a co-existence with no relationship whatsoever, but that we are supposed to understand we serve God better together. Isn't it true? We serve God better together.
Imagine a hand, a hand that is chopped off, you know, like 'Addams Family', okay, you do not know 'Addams Family'. But imagine a hand that is just walking around on its own. You know, the 'Addams Family' hand a bit blurred one you know, don't know where to go, sometimes knock here, knock there. Why? Disconnected from the body. But when the hand is connected to the body, the eye can show it where it should go, the ... the arm fetches the hand to where it should be, to feed that morsel of food into the mouth, so that the stomach can digest it. And so the hand on its own is not as effective as it is connected to the body.
Make sense that we should understand the importance of serving God, and let me say this, serving God together with the people of God. It's not as effective if you serve on your own, I think that is the case, not that you cannot, but that should not be the only way you serve. We serve God better together because God has designed it as such that we are part of the body. And then, we need one another, that is the interdependency.
That is the theological basis God has or Paul has laid down. Applying it more pointedly, he goes on to verse 28, "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping administrating and various kinds of tongues." Now, this is tricky, because from now, verse 28 to 31, people call this the minefield. Huh, a theological minefield, because it's not easy to really get the sense of what it is without some contradictions.
But I think there's a way to understand these verses in the ... I think where God or Paul intended it to be. People are tripped up about this ranking system. There's a ranking system here, right? First, second, third, and so on. They have a problem with this ranking, because it seems to contradict exactly what Paul has been saying. Paul is saying, "Don't ... don't think of the eye as more important than the ears. Don't think of the hand as more important than the foot, it should not be like this, all are important!"
So when they read, "Oh, Paul now gives a kind of ranking, he's contradicting exactly what he's saying, so there must not be a ranking." But then again, when you say that there's no ranking, there is a ranking — first, second, third. So, I think the best way to understand this is — yes, there is a ranking, I can't run away from the fact that there is a ranking, ideas stated in verse 28. But the ranking is not in terms of importance, but in terms of prominence. All are important, but some are more prominent.
The hand is more prominent than the foot, you can't run away from the fact! The eye is perhaps more prominent than the ear, people look at, people look at your eyes, they don't look at your ear. When they look at you, do they ... "I ... I know you from your ear." Your eyes are ... are the most prominent ones, right? Even during COVID, all of us at masked up, we can still recognize one another because of your, some of them because hair or no hair, but most of the time, it's because of your eyes.
So there is a prominence level in a body, but we must not then jump to the conclusion that there is a difference in importance. All are important, although some will be more prominent. So Paul is saying, "In the church, all are important but there are those who are more prominent — the apostles, the prophets, the teachers."
Now, You say, "But I don't get it, then why tongues is right at the end? It's a very prominent gift!" And it is prominent because we read of it as being prominent in chapter 14. The best explanation is that, Paul left it to the end because that's the issue at hand. He's going to deal with the problem of tongues, they are priding themselves over tongues, and therefore it is left to the end. So, I think that's the best way to take it.
Paul goes on to say, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?" [1 Cor 12:29] These are rhetorical questions, as you know, rhetorical questions are questions that are obvious, they are not asked so that they get a response. They're asked to emphasize the point, the answer is obviously - No. Of course not, it will be so weird if this preacher here is all eyeballs. No! The body is made of diverse parts, and so the church is made up of diverse giftings.
Not all will be apostles, not all will share in that same level of prominence, even though all will be important. Or else, where is the diversity? Or else wheres the synergy that the body should have? And it will be just a monstrosity, so Paul ... Paul ... Paul is saying, "Not everyone will have these prominent gifts."
So far, you're following me? Wonderful, because the next one, you will be lost, hah, hah. Verse 31 says, "But earnestly desire the higher gifts." What? I thought I solved all the theological, exegetical problems, and now Paul seems to be just undoing all that he has said! Paul seems to be contradicting himself! "Don't boast of such and such gifts ..." and then finally he goes and say, "... but earnestly desire to higher gifts." "It's a self defeating statement! Paul, what are you doing?"
Well, that's the sense when you read this in the English translation. The issue is the way the Greek original text is written, is that it can go for both .... bear with me ah, it can go for both imperative or indicative moods. "Wah, now, what is this? What time already, still what imperative and indicative?"
Imperative is basically written in the form of a command. Indicative is written as a statement of fact or reality.
So, in the Greek, it can be read, "You are to earnestly desire the higher gifts." That's how they have translated it as such, but that ... that will not make sense because it is a totally contradictory statement to all that Paul has explained earlier.
So the only way to really correctly interpret this, is that this is written in the indicative sense, "You are eagerly desiring."
So Paul is not commanding them to now covet after, chase after those prominent gift. That would be not correct! God has distributed as He should, as He would, as He chose. "So, why do you want to do that?" He's not commanding them to do that, but He's saying, "You guys ..." Let me make it even more familiar to you, "You see lah, you all! Why ah, why you always want the more showy gifts hah?"
You get it now, there's a power when you use the word, 'hah' in Singapore. It makes it so understandable, hor! "So why ah, why you always eagerly in desiring; coveting these gifts hah!" "But I show you a still more excellent way." [1 Cor 12:31] I tell you what's a better approach, not hungering and lusting after these prominent gifts, but go the more excellent way and you will read of it in chapter 13 - the way of love.
Not boasting, not abusing, not despising, but humbly using your gifts and lovingly serve one another. The point Paul is making is — quit desiring the greater gifts. This is the indicative form, we should understand it to be, instead desire to serve God in love.
And then that wraps up chapter 12 nicely for us and will set us up for chapter 13, which is a great chapter on love. Before we end, just a reminder about diversity, the church is made up of a diverse group of people. We are! You know, I realized Gospel Light has changed a lot over the years, really has. We used to be rather homogeneous, but today, I think we are getting more and more diverse, heterogeneous.
Is that a problem? Well, in a sense, it's less comfortable, because we have people of different backgrounds, different even theological backgrounds. But in my heart I rejoice, huh, because the diversity of the church shows the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shows that even though we are so different, we can all be one, because Christ is worthy.
I want to say, Gospel Light will not be as comfortable as last time. Last time, everybody, sama sama [in Malay], same, same background, talk the same lingo, have the same interests. Today, we're so different, but praise be to God, because it's ... it's the church is not about our comfort. The church is about reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the more diverse it is, I think the greater thanks we can offer to God for using us to reach many people.
That also, I think emphasizes to us that not every Christian needs to have the gift of tongues, as some has erroneously taught. Oh, how do you know that you're Christian? We must be able to speak in tongues! Not true. Do we all share the same gift? No. So I think, the diversity is what we celebrate, as a church and I hope we will continue to do so, in the days to come.
Now that, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, we should all stay diverse theologically, I hope over time, we would be able to move more and more centered in the Gospel. But when people come, we don't have to ask them, "Do you fit our theological grid," right 'from the word go' [sic: away]? We ... we want to slowly help people to the center of the Gospel.
Now, secondly — unity. And I think it's so important for us not to despise one another. Different race, different education, different earning power, different spiritual gifts, they are not the basis for division at all. We are united, even though we are not uniformed. We are different, but we need not be divided. That's unity and diversity!
And then, let's understand synergy. I hope that you will today ... today think about, pray about, consider serving God together in the local church. Great that you're serving God in your workplace, great that you're serving God in your school, but I think there's something about serving God together with the local church, which is the context of 1st Corinthians 12.
Because when we serve together, we synergize together, the hand will not be like the Addams' Family hand, just lost, but it's wonderfully fruitful that way.
And then finally, let's understand interdependency. Church is not about coming in and going out with no relationship, with no intimacy, with no real connectivity to one another. We need one another. I need you, you need me, we need one another.
Well, I hope that is a helpful thought for you, as we continue this journey in spiritual gifts. Take a step back, actually, this chapter is not just about spiritual gifts, it's about love and the lack of it. The church at Corinth struggled terribly with it. They did not show love one to another, but Paul is going to lead us to pursue love and we're going to look at that next Sunday.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
We thank God that He is the God of love, He never despised us, He did not marginalize us, even though we are sinful, but He sent His Only Son Jesus Christ to die for us and to save us from our sins. I pray today you and I, if you're here with us and you do not know Jesus, I hope you will know God's love, first and foremost.
Knowing God's love is not about you trying to earn His love. Not about you trying to come to church, do good, sin less, because we can never earn God's love. "For all our works are like filthy rags," the Bible says. But I want you to realize today, this is the amazing thing about God's love - God's love is not given to the deserving, God's love is not given to those who are good enough, because none of us will ever be!
God's love is so great, the Bible says, "For God so loved us, while we were yet sinners." So today, I want to tell you about His love, Christ was given because God loves us, to save us while we are yet sinners. Today, all you need to do is to come with a broken heart, with a humbled heart that acknowledges your sinfulness, and rejoices in God's lavish, generous love for you. That if you should repent and believe in Jesus Christ, He would forgive you of all sins.
My friends, if you know the love of God, I pray you will bend that experience of God's love outwards to those around you. Christianity is not a faith lived by ourselves alone, it's not just private, it's personal, but it's not private. It's lived out in community, is lived out in the one anothers. We are so intimately related with one another in God's eyes that it is pictured to be like that of a body.
I pray you'll step out. Huh, you step out from your home, you step out from your cameras, you, you'll come step out from your computer screens, and be with people and to meet people and to serve people. And then in that serving, that synergizing together, we serve God better and we meet one another. I pray Gospeliters, you will discover your gifts — actively, responsibly and then use them gratefully, humbly, faithfully.
So Father, thank You this morning for Your Word. Bless Your people, help me to serve You, help us to serve You well, because Christ first gave Himself for us. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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