Different Gifts, Same Lord
by Kristi Meyer
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
I’m a natural organizer. Color-coded file folders in my cabinets, books organized by author and genre on my shelves, clothes hung by function, style, and color in my closet—these satisfy my need and desire for order. This sense of organization also extends to people. Among my various circles of friends, I’m the one who keeps track of when we saw each other last, and I’m generally the one to initiate the e-mail or text thread scheduling our next dinner or outing.
I am not, however, naturally empathetic. I love my friends, I love spending time with them, and I love organizing the details of our get-togethers. But I don’t always do as well with checking in regularly to see how my friends are doing. I don’t always recognize when they’re in the midst of a busy or challenging time and need support. I don’t always see when they’re struggling spiritually, and I’m not always there to offer Christian comfort and prayer. Therefore, I greatly appreciate my friends who do have this gift of empathy, and I treasure the encouragement they so easily and instinctively provide.
As we read in today’s verses, we see the same concept at play within the body of Christ. Before talking about the differences in the gifts we have been given, note the sameness that Paul brings out in these verses. We see all three persons of the Trinity in these verses, presented in reverse order. All our spiritual gifts come from the same source: God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because all of our spiritual gifts come from this same source, they are all good, useful, and beneficial gifts. And all of our spiritual gifts come together for a common goal: to build up and strengthen the body of Christ.
All our spiritual gifts come from the same source: God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because all of our spiritual gifts come from this same source, they are all good, useful, and beneficial gifts.
Paul contrasts this sense of sameness—of a common source, value, and goal—with a repetition of the differences among our gifts. There are different kinds of gifts, of service, of working, differences for which we should be extremely thankful! In his wisdom, God gives his church a wide variety of spiritual gifts and equips it with everything it needs to fulfill its Great Commission calling. Rather than separating us, our differences should unite us as we use our gifts in service alongside others—others who have different gifts but serve the same Lord.
Related to this devotional series, we see believers working together in the church in different ways. Believers naturally come together—for service, fellowship, and mutual encouragement and edification—along gender lines, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My church has a men’s Bible study and a women’s Bible study, and many other churches do as well. We share an organic connection with those of our same gender, and oftentimes it’s easier to serve alongside them and grow in God’s Word together with them.
At the same time, we would lose part of the body of Christ if we didn’t also partner across gender lines. Personal experience and anecdotal evidence show us that—broadly speaking—men and women are blessed with different gifts and different ways of working to accomplish a task. When we bring these differences together in the body of Christ, when we work alongside each other, when we complement each other’s strengths and counterbalance each other’s weaknesses, we unite in using all of our spiritual gifts to serve both God and neighbor.
When we bring these differences together in the body of Christ, when we work alongside each other, when we complement each other’s strengths and counterbalance each other’s weaknesses, we unite in using all of our spiritual gifts to serve both God and neighbor.
As we’ll explore later this week, this isn’t always easy. It’s tempting to covet another’s spiritual gifts, to chafe under aspects of our unique callings that seem to restrict the use of our gifts, to fail to use our gifts to the best of our ability because they seem unappreciated or even unwelcome. But when these temptations come, remember the sameness in Paul’s words. Remember the same God, the same Lord, the same Spirit from whom our gifts come. Remember God’s perfect wisdom in giving these gifts—to both men and women—and give thanks that we are privileged to use these gifts in his service.
For Further Reflection
Meditate on or write about the spiritual gifts you have been given. How are you using these gifts to build up the body of Christ?
Lord God, in your grace and wisdom you chose different spiritual gifts for different believers. We thank you for the diversity of gifts you bestow upon us and for the opportunity to use these gifts to carry out the work you have called us to do: sharing the good news with those around us and building up the body of Christ. Keep us faithful in this work, and bless our efforts according to your good and gracious will. Amen.
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