“For the common good.” That’s the reason Paul sets forth for God to have lavished so many spiritual gifts upon the church. Spiritual gifts—the Greek term for such gifts is charisma—are more than our natural talents or abilities; they are good things with which people have been graced by God in order to build up one another as his Body, the Church. According to Paul there are many different gifts, extravagantly poured forth upon each individual according to God’s purpose and plan.
It’s amazing to me that God, who frustrated humans at the Tower of Babel by confounding speech and separating us from one another, would now use diversity and differences redemptively to bring us together. But that’s how it is with the Holy Spirit; the presence of many gifts means that we need one another. God now brings us together in such a way that we have no room to boast in ourselves. Rather, we boast in the Lord, and so give thanks and glory to God.
That which we accomplish through our own talents and abilities soon becomes a source of inner pride, and a source outer distinction that isolates us from others. In contrast, the gifts of the Spirit are given in such a way that they build up the “body of Christ” and reveal our interdependence. We may each receive different gifts, but none are of any use apart from the rest. The church in Corinth struggled with issues of pride and prejudice. Paul reminds them that since the same God is at work in every spiritual gift, none is of greater importance than any other. So it is with us in the interweaving of the gifts that one sees the richness of the whole.
January 03, 2012