Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Love: The More Excellent Way, Part 3

... love does not envy or boast, ...  (1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV)

This is an interesting pair of words here. Paul starts down a path of eight qualities that love does not possess, emphasizing the positive by highlighting the absence of the negative. Envy and boasting are referring to the same thing from two different perspectives. Envy desires what others have that it does not. Boasting exalts what it has that others do not. This can easily be applied to many broad-sweeping areas of our lives, but I would like to focus on the specific context that Paul was addressing when he wrote this.

1 Corinthians 12:14-15,21 So the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. ... 21 So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

Rather than using their gifts to build each other up (Eph 4:12, 1 Cor 14:4), the Corinthians were dividing and being divided over them. You can see that throughout most of chapter 12. Some with "lesser" gifts were debasing themselves to the point of saying they weren't worth being part of the body. Others with more "desirable" gifts were elevating themselves to the extreme, saying that they could be just as effective in ministry, if not more so, without the rest of the body weighing them down. 

God is the giver of spiritual gifts, and He gives them perfectly. One way that I look at spiritual gifts is God manifesting Himself in different ways through finite beings. No one finite person can fully express the character of an infinite God. All of the gifts He gives need to be present in a church body and being used for that church to reach its fullest potential. From the person putting rolls of toilet paper in the stalls to the one preaching the message on Sunday morning, no one should think that they are not needed, and no can claim that they don't need anyone. A body only functions at its fullest when all of its members are functioning at their fullest.

If you are a member of a church and are not serving in or through that church, that's a problem. Your church is not as healthy as it could be. Don't envy those who are in the spotlight or who have what you think are "better" gifts. Ask your church leadership to help you identify your spiritual gifts and then use them to their fullest potential. God wants to display His glory through you in a unique way. Go, use your gifts for His kingdom, and do so with love.