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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 12:11-12 All members of one body

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, May 10, 2023

11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one as he desires. 12 For as the body is one, and has many members, all the members of that body, though many, form one body. So it is with Christ.

We’ve all been frustrated when some piece of machinery—a car, a phone, a dishwasher, a computer, a TV, a trailer, a showerhead, or something—won’t work right because one little piece fails. When those little gears or wires or circuit boards or cotter pins fail, everything else comes to a halt. This is how it can be with the kingdom of God and the body of the church. What happens when the pastor is about to say the communion liturgy and finds that nobody set up for communion? The church is more apt to wonder what will happen if they’re missing a teacher or a pastor, but everyone is needed in the kingdom, doing their part.

Now, if one of us who has a role to play becomes hardened in a sin, God will show his wrath and fury over that sin and will not hesitate to replace that person with someone else. He shows us this in the way he condemns leaders and kings in the Old Testament. “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest” he said to Eli as he condemned him and his whole family for their sins (1 Samuel 2:34-36). So none of us is irreplaceable, not one. Yet for all of us there is repentance and forgiveness and a place in the body of Christ. Remember that Peter was brought back into the office of an apostle after he denied the Savior and cursed the very accusation that he had been a follower of Jesus (Matthew 26:74; John 21:15-17). But he was forgiven.

What role we play is in part determined by the gift we have, and how we use that gift. Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:15-30) is surely an appropriate application of Paul’s meaning here. If the Lord has given my brother five talents or spiritual gifts, and if he has given my friend three, and he has given me just one, then I still want to use my one gift as a part of his church and his plan for growing his kingdom. What good would it be to have a place to meet on a high hill if there were no path or steps leading up to it? What frustration to sit at an otherwise firm table but with one leg that tips? What trouble do we bring to the body of Christ when one of us, any one of us, does not do our part but lollygags or abandons our responsible duties and expects that someone else will do what God himself has given to us to accomplish? Wouldn’t such a one be saying, “I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground” (Matthew 25:25)? His response is hard: “You wicked, lazy servant! Take his talent from him and give it to another!” (Matthew 25:26,28).

Instead, we want to be like Sarah when the visitors came. After she made a large meal (a banquet, really) without knowing it was God himself and two angels that she was feeding, she did not impose herself in the group, but contented herself with the role God has given to her. The angels asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” and he answered: “In the tent” (Genesis 18:9). With those words, so easily passed over as irrelevant by many modern scholars and readers, the Holy Spirit teaches us that both Abraham and Sarah knew and worked at their roles in the kingdom of God. They put their faith into action in all circumstances. We should know that Abraham is held up as the best example of faith among sinful mankind. “Abraham believed God, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). And if Abraham is our great example of faith, then surely Sarah is one of our great examples of deeds done from faith. For even though she was once caught laughing (Genesis 18:15), she was also happy doing her work “in the tent.” Doubtless she was washing the dishes, putting away the pots and pans, tending the fire or firepit, feeding the family dogs, checking over their supplies, carefully wrapping the brick of salt, and so on. In her time and place, that was her role. Many homes would be happier if it could still be so today, although couples understandably share many of their duties. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears hers down with own hands” (Proverbs 14:1). 

Christian, do your duty, perform your task, whatever it is, with contentment and joy, “in general honest thought, and common good to all,” “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Serve the Lord with gladness, and consider, each day: I am a part of the body of Christ. How may I serve and help my Savior’s kingdom to prosper, beginning here in my own home with my own family?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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