1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 16

Unity and Diversity in the Body

by

Today's Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

Music and theater were a big part of my upbringing. My sisters and I were not the most athletic kids, so choir, voice lessons, and musicals were our sport. I was never really content with just being a member of the choir, or a background part in a musical. I always wanted the solo or the lead.

Perhaps there was a church member or two in Corinth who felt the same way. Maybe they were trying to steal the show, or maybe they were trying to prove their gifts were better than someone else’s. Paul enters and tells them that as believers, we operate as one unit, not solo performers. We are all members of one body, and “the body is not one part but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).

Even though I said goodbye to my music and theater days long ago, I still struggle with this truth. I still want to stand out. I still want the “best” gifts. I still crave that recognition. (My family didn’t nickname me “Drama Mama” for nothing.) But if we look at what I Corinthians 12 really says about our gifts, we see that it has little to do with our individual talents, and much more to do with the way they unify us as believers.

The variation of gifts in Christian community highlights our need for one another. Where I am weak, another member of the body is strong. Where someone else is weak, I am strong. Individually, we can only go so far with our own gifts. Together, we are a full cast, the complete body of Christ. This makes us able to serve our community, one another, and in turn, bring glory to God. Our gifts serve a greater purpose: unification.

As Paul explained, “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person” (vv. 4-6). The emphasis here is on what’s the same about us, not what’s different. We all have the same Spirit. We all have the same Lord. We all have the same Father.

The Church is at its best when we operate as one unit, not as talented individuals trying to outshine each other. When we operate as a unit, we reflect Christ,  “[f]or as the body is one and has many parts… so also is Christ” (v.12).

In spite of my desire for the spotlight, I am learning that the Christian life is not always a loud one. What we do in love and service to our Lord may not always have an audience. So much of this journey is spent using our gifts in quiet ways that may not bring us individual attention, but will bring balance and unity to the body—this is how our gifts were intended to serve.

May we stop running after the spotlight and find contentment working backstage. May we seek unity above our own glory, and may we be grateful for diversity in the body and all the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on us by the Father.

SRT-Corinthians-Shareimage-Day16

  • Kris-Florence

    i’m very guilty of wanting to have all of the attention on me. when i was in high school, i wanted to be the lead music director of my church. i wanted all the songs with the high notes, all the parts in the christmas musical, and just an overall celebrity status in the church. in school, i would want the lead in the play and i would deliberately hide the fact that i could sing so i could reveal it in some gaudy fashion and people would admire me.

    reading this was just a reminder that i wouldn’t have that gift if it wasn’t for the LORD. i’m a senior in college now, and i’m still coming to terms with the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around me. i need to climb out of the depths of this whole i’ve dug and glorify the LORD with every breath that i breath, with every song that i sing. i don’t need recognition from others, i don’t need their validation. all i need is CHRIST and CHRIST alone.

    • Amanda Smith

      God has revealed to me my selfish desire for attention and recognition. Thank you for sharing your struggle! I will pray with you that we can overcome this!

  • I needed to read this post back in middle school and high school. I wanted to be center of attention. In reality, I still feel that way with my grandparents and especially my husband. I think that’s why I’m scared to have children is I won’t be the center of my husband’s attention. Which sounds selfish, but growing up I wasn’t positively upheld by my parents, so with this being my first where I feel like I mean something positive in my husband’s eyes… I’m soaking it up. Lord, help me to see life and feel content with where you take my life.

  • Rowena Salter

    This provides me with much comfort as I am finally fitting into a Church family who is accepting me for me! That it is ok to use my gifts in ministry, and that what the Lord does through me doesn’t need to be noticed by any one else but him!

  • Beth Nuthak

    God does not give us gifts to show how good we are, but to show how good He is!

  • Trisha Bonavia

    I sometimes think that in seeking our glory over the Lords or over unity it is our prideful insecure hearts declaring “Hey I am valuable” to people. When we should believe Gods word that He values and loves us. Period. Then I’m using our gifting see can be humble and thankful that we are so loved in our brokenness.

  • Susan Crosby

    A reminder that a person’s talent may have little to do with their Spiritual Gift or Gifts.

    • Kelly Wolfe

      YES SIS. I wholeheartedly believe that anointing + gift > talent + hustle. Talent and hustle are helpful, but by no means the measure of calling, creativity, or courage.

  • Brianna Foshie

    I’m a couple days behind but I love this message. We all need to work together to see the best changes in the church.

  • Heather Totten

    Spot on!

  • This reminds me of Lecrae’s song “Background,” I so often get in the way of the body trying to glorify self. I need to be the background. ❤️

  • Amy Bromberg

    Yes yes yes! Also, we always have an audience, an Audience if One… and it’s his opinion of us that matters the most. This frees us to serve him with all we’ve got.

  • Laura Zimmerman

    YES. Just yes.

  • Candace Steele

    After reading this passage, I wonder at what point we challenge ourselves in service of the church and at what point we acknowledge our gifted area and serve in that way.

    Recently I was nominated as a Deacon for a three year term. Being a Deacon is one of the most challenging things I have done, as many of the responsibilities are outside of my “comfort zone” or area where I feel gifted. It is so hard that I want to quit. I see other Deacons who serve so well and have such a heart for the ministry. It has been a humbling experience to see that this is not something I am good at or feel confident in.

    My husband and I teach Sunday school for elementary children – and this is where I shine! Everything about it I love!

    Do I continue with the challenge of being a Deacon or out all my efforts towards teaching?!

    • Lynnae

      God is so good and has chosen you to be a deacon, to be a leader for your church:) Don’t let your ensecurities descurage you! You are a child of God, a perfect father who wants you to let his light shine! He will never leave or forsake you and he will lead you during your time as a deacon. You were chosen for such a time as this. God Bless and be encouraged that you are a light right where your Heavenly Father wants you to be.

    • Kailee Tidball

      I am struggling with a big decision as well and a friend told me the other day that sometimes the Lord won’t give you a direction. I don’t think that’s true. I think if you have faith that He will show your His will, cover it in prayer and stand patient for an answer, He will direct your heart to His will. This is my prayer in my situation anyway. Praying for guidance for you as well!

    • Karen

      I served a 3 year term as deacon a few years ago and was overwhelmed by the time commitment number of meetings! Although I do not think I will accept the nomination again any time soon, it was a time of spiritual growth as I relied on the Lord to see me through. Stay in daily prayer about it and ask that the Lord make your direction clear.

    • L Johnson

      I was involved in a ministry a couple if years ago that just became so frustrating. I encountered obstacles at every turn and cried a lot. I remember driving down the road one day crying out to God, asking him why it had become so difficult and why I had no peace. In my heart of hearts I heard God answer that he had never called me to that ministry. I realized that I had jumped out in front of him and taken that on for myself. It occurred to me that I had signed up for prideful reasons so that others would think highly of me. If God calls you, you must serve. If God doesn’t call you, you best not.

  • Carol Heier

    The Christian life is not always a loud one. I like that phrase for many reasons.

  • Monica Davis

    Grateful for diversity in gifts? Irritated career at “pew warmers” who complain.

  • I am surprised when the writer does not use the SRT version of the Bible. Vs. 6 says ” the same God produces each gift”. We don’t choose the gifts God gives us anymore than we choose our skin color. The point of this is not to be wanting others gifts alone. It also is making the point to use the gifts you were given. “Those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable ” (vs 22). Sometimes we ignore or don’t even want to know what our gifts are. We are not open to being used of the Spirit. There have been times when I would believe I had something to say to a person. Was not “big” like “go to Africa and be a missionary “. At the same time it was a “word” for that person. I had to make a choice of feeling afraid of all the “what ifs ” and doing what I felt God was telling me. This is about being open to doing what God has given you to do. ” Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. ” 1 Thes. 5:19-21. Take in the complete Word.

    • Brittany

      love this about God choosing our gifts for us. I didn’t make that connection until I read this–Thank you for sharing.

  • Jennifer Martin

    ❤️

  • Chris Swan

    Really wish all the comments would show up here!!!

    • Kate Mills

      Me too!!!

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Chris, we are aware of this particular error and it should be corrected with a future update. In the meantime, you can read all of the comments on our website. We appreciate your patience! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Such a timely devotion for me! My sister is hosting a group of orphaned siblings for the summer (and trying to adopt them permanently). I have been feeling a little down, wishing I could do something similar – or at least do more to help her. My circumstances are different, and though I have prayed and asked, it’s not possible for me to adopt right now. God used this devotional to remind me today that my role is different from hers, but no less important. I can continue to pray and gather supplies for her, and that has value, too! (And would you please pray with me for these precious kids?)

    • Elle

      Praying for you all. What your sister is doing is wonderful, and I am sure that your contribution is more than appreciated and valued! God bless you!

      • Melisha

        As a Foster Parent who is trying to adopt the support of family members and just you bring a great Aunt is a tremendous help. I know God will show you purpose as you seek it.

    • Katelyn

      I’m praying!

  • Stacie Smith

    Another example that the Christian life requires humility and dying to self -

  • Our gifts serve a greater purpose- unification.

    Love this. Too many issues attempt to divide. And Christ specifically prayed we would be one. Father, enable me to be a peacemaker today. To use the gifts you have given me to unify and build up your kingdom. To show You in all I do!

  • Jheri Schutt

    Lord, I pray for the ability to accept the gifts you bestowed upon me with joy and clarity and for the ability to acknowledge that others gifts were bestowed upon them and not one is better or worse; all are necessary, all are gifts from You.
    Amen. ❤️

  • Kelly Chataine

    Our church recently asked members to fill out the gifts and talents survey. I filled mine out and then began looking around the sanctuary and thanking God for the marvelous gifts and talents of others. I wanted to go to others and make sure they included specific items in their survey and encouraged them in their particular gift or gifts. God is amazing!

  • I feel like the devotional is telling us to keep our desire for glory in check… when in fact, our true desire should be for it to be squashed completely. The writer says that she’s learning that “the Christian life is not always a loud one.” Well, should it ever be a loud one? “What we do in love and service to our Lord may not always have an audience.” Should it ever? Having an audience should be the exception, not the norm. “May we seek unity over our own glory….” Really?!? How about may we seek unity… period. Following Jesus isn’t about keeping ourselves in check. It’s about putting out old selves to death, picking up our cross, and living sacrificially for one another and for the lost.

    • Irina

      Yes, I think what you emphasize is our ultimate goal, but what the writer suggests is the small goal we all can start with, practicing little by little and growing spiritually until we are ready to give our old selves to death.

    • Rachel

      I hear and understand your point Deirdre. But the lost are our audience. So are our neighbors, coworkers, children, spouses, family, church, roommates, etc. We are witnesses to anyone around us. We should do everything as unto the Lord, while still aware that those around us are being shown Christ through our actions. We don’t NEED an audience but we have one (sometimes). They are there watching and hopefully, by our actions and words to them, they will know Jesus!

    • Ash.

      I agree with where you’re coming from, but I guess I interpreted the commentary differently. As someone who starts to sweat just thinking about being in the spotlight, I still got insight from Andrea’s commentary. Like you said, we need to die to our own desires. However, everyone struggles with something – even the most seasoned Christian. I may not struggle with wanting my talents [that God has given me] to be broadcasted on a stage, but I’m still able to apply this concept to my life in other areas.
      I personally saw the “loud” statement as boldness … some people have the ability to approach a situation “loudly” by powerfully proclaiming truth.
      I saw the “audience” statement pertaining pastors & teachers. If they didn’t have an audience, they don’t have a job.
      And again, sometimes people struggle with wanting personal recognition, or praise for what they did. Seeking unity is a beautiful thing, & sometimes that does require us to check our hearts, and then choose to remember that the only one person Christian life is about is Jesus.

  • I feel like the devotional is telling us to keep our desire for glory in check… when in fact, our true desire should be for it to be squashed completely. The writer says that she’s learning that “the Christian life is not always a loud one.” Well, should it ever be a loud one? “What we do in love and service to our Lord may not always have an audience.” Should it ever? Having an audience should be the exception, not the norm. “May we seek unity a over our own glory….” Really?!? How about may we seek unity… period. Following Jesus isn’t about keeping ourselves in check. It’s about putting out old selves to death, picking up our cross, and living sacrificially for one another and for the lost.

  • Churchmouse

    It is better to spend more time being grateful for the diversity of gifts than in comparing them to one another. All are valuable. All are for the common good. It is most important that we simply put them to use. No holding back. “Don’t stifle the Spirit.”

    • Rachel

      Yes & Amen!

    • Cory

      I really appreciate and look forward to your comments each day. You are very encouraging and positive and that is such a breath of fresh air.

      • Churchmouse

        Thank you for your kind words

        • Tricia C

          I agree with Cory. I am just now realizing that I don’t see all of the comments every day on the app. I will use the website now instead so that I can see yours and others.
          Thank you for your daily contribution.

  • It’s amazing how the more you read God’s Word, listen to teachings, complete devotionals, or listen to Christian radio, what you just read or heard about it taught again. I went over to read this devotional I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘Discover God’s Heart Devotional’. Check it out here, and the teaching was from 3John, but related to this devotional. We must do all we do to draw people to Jesus. He’s the Center of it all. The devotional is very good teaching about the heart of God, especially if you’ve struggled with His character ever. You may want to check it out. What is the one word used to describe Him? God is Love and He really is!

    • Barbara Menefee

      Thanks for the recommendation, Kristen!

    • Jennifer

      I love when that happens! My mom calls it “the Holy Spirit Highlighter.” :) Thanks for sharing – I will check it out!

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