I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; ~1 Corinthians 1:4-5
Corinth was one of the largest and thriving cities during the first century. It was a city where idolatrous practices and sin abounded. God placed this city on Paul’s heart to plant a church. God worked mightily through Paul’s ministry, and many were saved and baptized and a mighty church was established. Over time, however, the believers became carnal, and a divisive spirit was in the church. One of the areas that gave evidence that they were carnal was in the use of spiritual gifts.
We see the distribution.
Paul begins by giving God the glory for enriching the believers at Corinth with spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is an enablement of the Holy Spirit given to every person after salvation. This spiritual gift is not natural, but spiritual in nature. It is a work of grace, which means that it is God’s gift to us to be stewarded and used for His glory. Paul makes it very clear that this spiritual gift is “the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.”
We see the diversity.
There are many gifts. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us” (Romans 12:6). There are gifts for serving, giving, mercy, teaching, administration, wisdom, faith, and prophecy. Every believer has one or more gifts. The gifts are for the benefit of the local church. Each believer is to put his spiritual gift to work to be a blessing in the church. These gifts are to complement one another. These gifts are to be exercised in a spirit of love and without partiality. These gifts are designed to optimize a spiritually healthy and thriving church.
We see the division.
The believers were not using their spiritual gifts to God’s glory. These believers became proud and puffed up about being “enriched in all utterance and in all knowledge,” and began bickering about which gifts were most important. These gifts were misused, underused, and, in some cases, abused. Paul told these believers that they were carnal and fleshly. There was spitefulness that the believers had towards each other. Strife and division hurt the church. They create an atmosphere of competition and conflict. It is a bad testimony to the outside world and reflects a life that is not Christ-centered.
We see the directive.
First, whatever we do, we must do it for the glory of God. We must see our gift as a privilege to help one another. Second, our gifts must be exercised in godly love. Paul said, “Follow charity,” and, “The greatest of these is charity.” Third, every member of the body of Christ must be seen as necessary and useful. Fourth, a carnal spirit is immature and sinful. When you detect spite and division in your heart, they are sins that must be confessed immediately.
God’s grace is being misrepresented by some modern-day teachers as giving believers a license to sin. It is also misunderstood by church members that it is God giving each believer a special means to be exercised for building up the church. The right spiritual exercise of our spiritual gifts is how we provoke one another to love and to good works. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Let us use the privilege of grace for God’s glory.
Have a grace-enriched God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Chronicles 6