Do you ever feel like a foot?
1 Corinthians 12:1-3:
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 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.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 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 reminds the Corinthian church – made up of Jews, gentiles, men, women, slave and free – that they are one body made up of many parts. Each part of the body is given the Spirit of God; the same Spirit as every other part. All are called to serve God by being his representatives in the world.
Yet each part of the body looks and functions so differently.
Paul talks about the parts of the body as though they are autonomous yet inherently connected. “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.”
He goes to great lengths to explain that not one member of the body is less valuable. In fact, the seemingly ‘weaker’ parts are indispensable. My guess is that Paul says this because he understood our sinful tendency to compare ourselves against others, to envy the gifts of others and, in doing so, overlook the value of some of our other brothers and sisters.
By my sinful nature, I look at the beauty, the talents, or the usefulness of others (often via social media!) and forget that we are one body. I envy the beauty of the eye rather than delight in the way it helps give direction to my footsteps!
Let’s delight in the gifts of the other body parts as though they are our own, because of our shared headship in Jesus. Delight in the freedom that we do not have to perform every role in the body. God has brought the body together in a way that gives even greater honour to each part, and so we can use our gifts to build each other up.
So, why not be a foot? Did you know that the cuticles on the toenails of our feet help prevent bacteria from entering our bodies? What a vital function for something so small, unnoticed (and slightly unattractive). Of course “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
Head: Can you see in this passage where Paul explains that not one member of the body is less valuable? How does Paul explain we should treat the weaker parts of the body?
Heart: Do you ever feel like a foot? Do you ever look at the eye, see its beauty on display, admired by many? In comparison, do you ever feel hardened by callouses? Trod on? Less valuable?
Hands: Be challenged to encourage a brother or sister in the body of Christ. Look for those who may feel less valued in our church community and remind them that they are indispensable.
Thank you Jesus for the Spirit you have given me, equipping me to live for you in the world. Thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ that I can serve alongside, and for their different gifts. I’m sorry for envying others instead of loving them and praising you for their good work. I’m sorry that I forget that we are one body and each part is indispensable. Help me to give encouragement generously and abundantly to all of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
A song to listen to: Raised with Christ
This Grow Daily was first posted as part of our Love My Church Series.