As we learn more about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, Paul continues by explaining some spiritual gifts as well as the importance of understanding why we don’t all have them or all have the same gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:8-20
8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body.
I don’t know about you, but in reading this, sometimes it is hard for me to be satisfied with not being able to do these things. I have yet to experience speaking in tongues or have a prophetic word or just as Peter did, simply look at someone who is lame and order them to get up and walk. As we talked about yesterday, spiritual gifts are not parlor tricks for our own amusement, but rather for God’s work. However, Paul distinguishes here that the lack of these things in your life does not make you any less important.
Verse 11 is the anchor to the point in this passage: but one and the same Spirit works all these things…just as He wills. It’s not about us! Our selfishness yearns for power and attention constantly. It is part of our spiritual battle in fighting the desires of the flesh. We cannot simply manipulate God and His Spirit to do this or that so we can show off. We all have a purpose, the question is: are we willing to realize and work within that purpose? Some do this and some do that, but what is it that you are doing? The passage that follows this one talks about working together as the Body of Christ. These verses are a preface is to let us all know that we play an important part in God’s design and we shouldn’t be jealous because someone else has a different set of gifts than we do. Similarly, we should embrace the gifts that we do possess because they were given to us intentionally and specifically by God to do the work He has called us to. Otherwise, we are just a screwdrivers trying to act like a hammers.
A very important thing I am learning about leadership is how to understand peoples’ gift sets and helping them function most effectively within their purpose and design. In the military, we were used to making square pegs fit in round holes (maybe it was just me, but it is what I learned). We ordered people to do things who maybe weren’t the best choice to perform the desired action. We even do this to ourselves; our pride gets in the way and we try doing something we know we probably shouldn’t be doing or that someone else can do better. We see others doing things very skillfully and instead of appreciating their presence and design to do it, we resent them because we want to look like they do. We forget, however, that God has given us each very specific things that we were very specifically designed to do. For every thing that you wish you could do, you probably have one that someone thinks the same of you.
Don’t be jealous or resentful about what others can do that you cannot; rather appreciate that they are there to fill that gap and discover what it is that you were designed to do. What specific purpose and gifts has God given you? What part of the Body of Christ were you designed to be?