Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Saturday, April 18th
Reading: 1 Corinthians 12-14
Please forgive me for not writing yesterday. I have been struggling with an Austin Spring allergies induced ear infection that laid me low. Feeling a little better today, so will post two devotions to catch us back up.
1 Corinthians 13 must be one of the most quoted texts in the Bible, especially at weddings. Its context is fascinating to consider, though. Paul sandwiches it right in the middle of his ongoing argument about the correct use of spiritual gifts in the church. It is the pillar that holds together all the other parts of the argument about tongues, prophecy, and healing and how they are to be used.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of spiritual gifts, the idea that God would breathe His Spirit into ordinary people in order to empower them to do extraordinary things for the communities of faith in which He has placed them. Unfortunately, we have set church up in such a way that we don’t get to see much of this body of gifting at work, and we must do all we can post this season apart to get back to the body doing the work of the body rather than just large groups gathering to watch a few muscles work out on a weekly basis.
Here there are some basic principles from the text about spiritual gifts that are useful reminders for us.
- God gifts everyone in the body. 1 Cor 12:6 says that God empowers all the activities by placing gifts in everyone. Everyone. Every one. There is no such thing as an ungifted believer. We must do a better job of helping people believe that and operate in the dignity and power of that.
- God gifts everyone in the body differently. Verse 8-10 shows how the Spirit gives different and differing gifts to each person. There is no gift (including tongues) that is one size fits all.
- God gifts everyone in the body as He wills. The gifts are not a reward for spirituality or good behavior. God gives them as He wants to give them! We therefore ought to lose all space for boasting in our gift. We didn’t earn them. Gifts ought to be great humblers.
- God gifts everyone in the body for the common good. The purpose of gifts is the building up of others around us. They aren’t for us, but rather they ought to flow from us. This is helpful to consider when you re trying to figure out your gifts. A useful question to ask is, “How can I serve for the common good?” This does more to float gift than any gift test that doesn’t have this motivation as its underlying question.
- None of the gifts matter as much as love. The history of the church (and all too many modern examples) shows us that you can get really gifted people whoa re also jerks. Paul calls them clanging cymbals. They make a lot of noise but there is no beauty in it.
I cannot wait till churches can gather together again, but I do hope that we are learning from this season apart that we don’t just need each other’s attendance, we need the supernatural gift of God that each can bring through participation if we just leave space for it, and let love be our guide.
Courage, dear friends. Ask God to fan into flame the gift that He has placed in you.