Today’s readings.. (2 Kings 4), (Jeremiah 52), (1 Corinthians 12), (1 Corinthians 13)

The church at Corinth was not functioning very well.  Today’s chapters (12 & 13) are about their misuse of the gifts of the Spirit that the first generation or two of believers were privileged to possess – it gave added impetus in the establishment of the church. The word church means the body of believers, not the building.  However, God was in control, but they largely failed to realize this.
After listing all the areas of special ability the Gifts created, for example it gave to one “the utterance of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge …” [12 v.8], Paul says, “all these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, which apportions to each one individually as it wills.” [v.11]
The point is made again in v.18, “God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose” – just as he chose Paul. The verses before are a reprimand to some of the members for trying to get the Gifts that appealed to them – and tomorrow’s chapter 14 makes it clear that the gift of speaking in other tongues (languages) was sought after – and misused.
It was essential then – and is no less essential today – that true believers have a spirit of teamwork: they must blend their various talents together and become a team, seeing Christ as their “head” .  To the Ephesians Paul wrote, “speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in every way to him who is the head, unto Christ” [4 v.15]
Today there are no supernatural gifts, but God’s inspired messages have now been written down for all to read and absorb into their minds, but the same principles of teamwork will always apply and Paul’s advice is as valid as ever. “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” [v.24-26]  The first church (ecclesia in Gk) in Jerusalem did this, it is wonderful when it still happens among true believers today..
The chapter concludes, “and I will show you a still more excellent way.”  The next chapter (13) should be familiar to us with its words about “love” as the more excellent way – it is the cement which binds the body together.   It is by acts of love that we show we have “the same care for one another” because “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” [v.7,8] If we really can do that, then what also will never end – will, by his grace, be our lives in God’s kingdom.

 

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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