Some Christians have more than one gift, but every Christian has at least one gift from the Spirit. All of the gifts of the Spirit have one purpose: to build up the other members of the Body of Christ for the glory of God. That’s it.
God’s glory is seen and savored in our exercise of these gifts as the gathered Body of Christ.
When you and I use our Spirit-given gift or gifts to build-up, encourage, or edify other Christians, then God gets the glory. Plus, our joy in Christ increases in the use of our gifts.
However, not all Christians have the same gifts.
Even in society, not all individuals have the same talents or strengths, naturally or spiritually. Likewise, different members of the body have their own unique strengths and also those areas where they must rely on the giftedness and strengths of others.
What would happen if every person in the church had to have the same gifts and strengths as everyone else? In 1 Corinthians 12:15-20, Paul addressed the subject:
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?
If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” [ESV]
Every member of the body of Christ is needed by every other member of the body. When every member functions according to their gifts and strengths, we all benefit and God gets the glory.
Some time back, the Springfield, Oregon Public Schools Newsletter published an article that makes my point in a colorful and, I think, memorable way. It’s a parable from the animal kingdom.
Many years ago, the animals decided they should do something to meet the growing problems of the world in the 21st century. So they organized a school.
They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals were required to take all of the same subjects.
The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, he was even better than his instructor! But he made only passing grades in running and was very poor in climbing. Since he was so behind in climbing, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice climbing.
This caused his web feet to be badly worn, so that he eventually became only “average” in his using his gift of swimming. But average was quite acceptable here, so nobody worried about that – except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of the class in running. But he soon developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscle because of so much make-up work in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered great difficulties in both his swimming and flying classes. That’s because in flying class he was required to start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed “charlie horses” from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in swimming.
The eagle was a problem student from the beginning. He was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing classes he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but he insisted on using his own way to get there. So even though he was excellent in flying, he had to be expelled for not doing the assignments like everybody else.
The moral of the story is a simple one. God has made each of us with wonderful gifts and strengths to be used in harmony with one another. We all have our weaknesses, but when we use our strengths, the whole body benefits.
If everyone in the Body of Christ plays their strength, the weaknesses of any individual will be consumed within the giftedness of another.
Use your gifts in the church. Run your race. Play your strengths!
For the glory of God,