A Functioning Body

The parts of the body need to be different to work together as a whole.

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Paul gives us a really vivid picture of a dysfunctional body – instead of focusing on their own tasks and the good that they contribute themselves, each part of the body can only see how useful the others are being. But when you view it from the perspective of the whole, it sounds pretty ridiculous. Your left hand may not be as coordinated as your right hand, but for a lot of things it’s really good to have both.

When we are all parts of the body of the church, there are some roles that might seem more gratifying, and there are some that might seem easier. And then there are the roles that we don’t notice at all. For everything that happens up front for everyone to see, there is a huge amount of effort behind the scenes.

Paul tells us that we should support each other with humility. We probably don’t pay much attention to how useful our elbows are, but imagine how difficult life would be if you couldn’t bend your arms!

Head: Are there spiritual gifts that you wish you had?

Heart: What kind of spiritual gifts might be underappreciated, but are really important?

Hands: How can the church function together as one body? What would that look like?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your wisdom in the gifts that you give us. Wherever there is need, you can provide. Please remind us that we are all different parts of the one body. Don’t let us become jealous of the gifts that you have given to others, and help us to see the worth of every spiritual gift and every role in the larger church. In your name, Amen.

A song to listen to: The One Who Made Us One

Zoe Harland

This Grow Daily was first posted as part of our Love My Church Series.