1 Cor. 1:4-7 (ESV) 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Gifted classes. Elite sports leagues. Advanced degrees. Lofty titles. Gated communities. It is human nature to want to distinguish ourselves. To justify our existence. To boost our ego.
Unlike ever before, thanks to television and the internet, it is easy to watch as the brightest and best display their talents for all to see, and to feel the need to set ourselves apart. However, these me-first desires are destructive to the soul and to a community. They foster pride and depression; jealousy and division.
The Corinthian church was wealthy and gifted. It was also one of the most divided churches the world has ever seen. How can we keep that from happening to us?
First, we need to unpack a theological truth that every Christian needs to understand, as it is a frequent idea in this letter and a big part of the problem at the Corinthian church. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit, and when the Spirit takes up residence in your life, He equips you with spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are given for the building up of the church – the edifying of other saints – and not for the building up of the individual who has been given the gift. The first point to understand: Talents often build up the talented. Spiritual gifts are to build up others. Notice that he talks to them about gifts within the context of grace – which is the unearned favor of God.
Second, note Paul’s use of the word “enriched.” He uses this word because spiritual gifts may build upon talents God gave us at birth or abilities we have acquired through training or experience. There are many times when this is not the case, but in such instances, the Holy Spirit deepens and transforms what was already there – taking a talent and declaring it His – to be used for His glory and no longer for our own. In the Corinthian context, it was their speech and knowledge.
Finally, seeing the evidence of spiritual gifts in your life prepare you for the second coming of Jesus in two ways. First, they confirm the gospel has taken root in your heart. Do you see the Spirit working through you – taking your service to the Lord and using it for the work of the gospel, the building of the church, and the glory of God? Second, as we each use the spiritual gifts God has given us within the church community, we help one another grow in our faith, continuing and advancing forward until the day we stand before Christ. I’ll say it again, Christianity is a team sport. Are you in the game or sitting the bench?
Do you see evidence of spiritual gifts in your life? Are you using them in the context of a local church? If not, get going. How? Look for a need in your church and look to fill it. God will confirm if He has gifted you to the work or not. If not, look for a different need and fill it. If you are using your spiritual gifts in a local church, then thank God, because this too is evidence of His grace in your life. He has gifted you that you might know the joy of serving the King of Kings! Sure, serving others is hard, but it is a crucial part of your growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Get going! Serve your King!