Lesson 9 Winter Quarter
Lesson Text: 1 Corinthians 12:14-31
Golden Text: 1 Corinthians 12:27
Our lesson this week moves us into the final unit of lessons for this quarter. The title for the third and final unit of lessons is: Blessing of Grace in Christ. Grace, we know, is the unmerited (undeserved) love of God. What have you and I done for the Lord to love us? God simply loves us for who we are; even when we were sinners He loved us. Our lesson this week takes a look at how we should be thankful for the gifts God has given to us and how we ought to work together using those gifts.
The Body of Christ
Scripture prior to the scripture covered in our lesson today, speaks about spiritual gifts. As Paul said, there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit is the one that gives those gifts (1 Cor. 12:4). Along those same lines, there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord (1 Cor .12:5). Paul would go on to say that there are diversities of activities but it is the same God who works all in all for the purpose of uplifting (1 Cor. 12:6-7).
Sadly, what we find happening in the Church – the congregation of all that genuinely believe – is that envy and jealousy begins to raise their ugly head. With the body of Christ, there are some who envy the gifts that others have received from the Lord, and when they do this, they end up looking down on their own gift. This is something that should not be happening in the body of Christ, as we will see Paul say here in our lesson this week.
All parts are significant
Our lesson opens with Paul speaking about the body and how there are many parts to the body (v.14). At this point, Paul is speaking figuratively of the body of Christ by beginning to speak about our physical body. Our bodies are made up of multiple parts, right? There’s our head that has eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth. Then we have our neck that turns our heads, our arms for holding and carrying, our legs for walking and running, and our feet hold all of it so that we actually can stand up.
So, when we think of our physical bodies, we could not say that one part is more significant than the other can we? Some would certainly try to argue it but that would simply be a foolish argument to get into.
With that understanding in mind, look what Paul brings up in the next few verses. He covers the foot talking to a hand with the foot thinking it’s not part of the body (v.15). Then the ear spoke to the eye and felt that because it wasn’t the eye, it wasn’t part of the body (v.16). Of course, if we heard the parts of our body saying these things to each other, we would tell our parts to stop being silly because each are equally important, right?
This is what it was like for Paul as we see in his letter to the Corinthians; it was likely some people felt that they were not a significant part of the body of Christ. Why would anyone feel that way? As we will see in the later verses of our lesson today, it came to the role some were serving, or not serving, in the body of Christ. Again, there were some who were jealous and envious of the gifts that others had, but they did not have.
There were some that wished they were an apostle or a prophet, but the Lord placed them in the body to do something else that they felt was not significant. You and I should never think this way. As Paul says here in our lesson, God is going to place us in the body of Christ where He pleases (v.18). We must remember what Paul said in his second letter to Timothy: when the Lord has sanctified us, either way He uses us, we are still a vessel of honor for every good work (2 Tim. 2:21).
You are needed, you are important
To speak to each vessel’s importance in the body, Paul again, speaking of our body, talks about how the eye can’t say to the hand, “I have no need of you (v.21).” We would not be able to touch, hold, or carry anything without our hands; we could only admire but at some point in time, we love to be able to touch and hold, rather than just see.
Again, the point that Paul is making is that none of us would look at any part of our body and think that no part is needed; we need our feet, our legs, our stomachs, arms, hands, neck, and heads. Not only that but we need our muscles, joints, tendons, and skeleton or we would just fall apart. Every single part of our body, we know and learn, is of the utmost importance (vss.22-23). For all of us who have our working parts, we should be thankful for it.
When it comes to the body of Christ, the Lord understands that every single true believer (member of the body) is important to the body. Paul writes, “God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another (vss.24-25).
Some of us go to church and we think to ourselves, “I wish I could sing like that person does; why didn’t God give me that gift?” Some of us watch the preacher preach and instead of heeding the word of encouragement and the teaching, we think, “I wish God gave me that gift, but God didn’t give me anything at all.” Paul is essentially looking at you and telling you to stop thinking or feeling that way.
The Parable of Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) comes to mind every time I discuss this passage of scripture about the varying gifts. In that parable, Jesus speaks of a certain owner that gave to one of his servants 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and to another he gave 1 talent. The two servants that had received 5 and 2 talents, invested in and used their talents and grew what they had.
The servant that received the one talent did nothing with his talent because he didn’t think much of it; it wasted away and the owner got frustrated with him. So, the owner gave the one talent to the one that initially was given five talents and doubled them.
The lesson I have always learned from the parable of talents is that you should never think little about what the Lord has given to you (blessed you with); this is the absolute worst thing that you can do. Paul was trying to teach this same lesson to the Corinthians when it came to how they were treating their blessings from the Lord — don’t think little of your blessings.
A more excellent way
Now, there is a word mentioned here in this statement that I also want to focus on as well as I believe this was also the main purpose for Paul writing. Paul, again, wrote, “God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another (vss.24-25).”
Schism: division, separation; discord, disharmony. Last spring, we learned about the divisions that had been taking place in the church at Corinth; one such division, you might recall, was over only going to listen to one’s favorite preacher rather than just heeding the sound doctrine from those teaching it (1 Cor. 1:10-17).
Well, I believe we can add something else that had been causing divisions in the early church – spiritual gifts and callings. I believe that there were some who were not pleased with the idea that their gift was not great or that God simply did not give them a gift and they envied others. This envy and jealousy is the stuff that leads to divisions; to schisms. I have seen this stuff personally happen and heard of it happening in congregations as well and this should not be happening in the church at all.
The Lord has honored every single member in the body of Christ to where we should not look down on ourselves nor should we envy the gifts and callings of others. Paul asked, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret (vss.29-30)?” Absolutely not.
The Lord has blessed me with and called me to preach and to teach; I do both to the best of my ability. Do I teach or preach like my dad? No. And I tell you, it is completely fine that I do not teach or preach like my dad did. I also tell you that it is completely fine that I do not have the gift of singing. I literally just finished speaking with my mom and telling her she has far better patience with dealing with certain people than I do because my limit can be short with certain people.
All of us have been blessed with different gifts and all of us have different callings. From a worldly perspective, we would try to place these gifts and callings into some sort of ranking system. However, spiritually speaking, as Paul said, I show a more excellent way. The excellent way that Paul is speaking of is that the Lord has placed each member where He has for the purpose of edifying (uplifting and profiting) the entire body of Christ (v.31).
So, never think little of yourself, your gift, or calling from the Lord. As the title of our lesson for today says, it is a blessing to belong in and be a member in the body of Christ.