The focus of this passage is the gift Giver, and the purpose of the gifts given. We can read these verses and get distracted by the gifts mentioned (and Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12), trying to nail down who has what gifts, maybe longing for a gift another was given, maybe even bemoaning a gift we have been given. The intent here, though, is to praise the gift Giver (God alone), and highlight the purpose of the gifts: the equipping for service and building up of the body of Christ. With these two in focus, the Giver and the purpose, we can acknowledge the gifts but not hyperfocus on them, and each can serve the body of Christ in her unique giftedness.
In verse 14 Paul broke down the negative effect of not using our gifts, thus not growing as the body of Christ toward maturity. It is clear that a lack of spiritual growth leads to confusion, trickery, immaturity, and instability.
In stark contrast to verse 14, here Paul gives us the positive effects of using our gifts. The body of Christ can be built up, “can grow up in all things” when each person is utilizing his or her gifts in love. Without love, maturity and unity are impossible.
We know that the human body is capable of growing, is the sum of many parts, and has a head that guides its movements. Paul describes Christ as the head of the body and each of us as the other parts. Harold Hoehner says it well: “We observe here that there can be unity in diversity. Although there is oneness in structure, there is variety in function.” In light of the body of Christ, and how it is described here, we see each member is unique, has purpose, and is needed for all to grow in maturity to be more like Jesus. When one part of the body suffers, or in this case, does not operate effectively in its giftedness, it is difficult for the whole to grow.
Be encouraged that without you, the body of Christ doesn’t function as it should. We need you to use your gifts as we seek to be and love more like Jesus.
What holds you back from using your gifts?
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