We discussed how scripture can offend and cause controversy on Sunday. All scripture is God inspired, and it cuts at the joints. This passage is one of these. There are those, such as the Puritans and ultra-Calvinists, who argue that the gifts of the spirit, particularly the miraculous ones, have ceased. There are those who see such gifts as something that proves sainthood: something that is given for great holiness. Then there are those who say the manifestation of some gifts,are compulsory for all Christians, and without them you do not have the baptism by the spirit of God.
I have seen Churches divide over these things. This should not be so, because the church is of Christ, and any gift we are given is not for us but for the building up of the Church. Paul was correcting the Corinthians tendency to see gifts as akin to Scout Badges: something to be earned and be proud of.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
The key here is contained in the following chapter. Knowledge will make you prideful: it is love, which sees any gifts and talents for the betterment of others, that allows you to step away from any pride in your achievement and consider instead what you are doing to build the kingdom.
And that will vary. Considerably. I know people who can heal, or prophesy, or discern. Most cannot do them all. We need a community. We need to connect. For then our strengths will cover our brother’s weakness, and the church will be glorious.
It is when we are alone, and we expect the pastor to be some superbly gifted being, that our weaknesses are left uncovered, and we develop a habit of comparison, backbiting and failure.
To paraphrase Paul, it is far better to judge all others better than yourself. And seek the true unity, which only comes from the Spirit of God.