Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Given for the Common Good

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV (1978)
The topic of spiritual gifts is a difficult one for many believers, mostly, I suspect, because they struggle to understand their own giftedness.  It may be that they are expecting their giftedness to be something dispensed on them when they first believe.  Or it may be that they limit the possibilities of giftedness to a few of the more visible and upfront gifts: preaching, teaching, music, etc.  Or it may be that they are afraid of being gifted, along with the obligation of then having to use that gift in the Lord's service, preferring to just hang tight in the shadows.

But in the verse above Paul affirms that the manifestation of the Spirit, spiritual giftedness, is given to every believer.  None of us who are truly in the body of Christ are ungifted.  We all are equipped for service.  It may be that the God who knew you from creation has equipped you from birth for his service.  It is likely that you are not equipped in a way that puts you out in front of people; most service is behind the scenes.  But we are all equipped to serve.

Oftentimes people who fail to discover their giftedness think little of it, assuming that it hurts no one. But Paul is pretty explicit in this verse that our gifts are given to us for the common good.  I am gifted, not for my own benefit, but rather for the benefit of the body as a whole.  Think about that for a moment.  If I am gifted for your benefit, and I fail to recognize and utilize my giftedness, then am I not hurting you, hurting the body as a whole?  Am I not depriving them of something that is important to being a healthy body of Christ?

I would encourage all who are a part of the body of Christ to consider how they can help the body to grow, to be healthy.  I'm not sure that it is really important to think specifically about giftedness.  Rather think about what you can do that will benefit the body as a whole.  That may be taking care of children, being friendly, being hospitable, doing some cleanup or weeding, being an encourager, being diligent to pray.  What do you enjoy doing that can be used to advance the kingdom of God.  Do that to the best of your ability.

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