As we continue Paul’s discussion about misunderstandings of spiritual gifts, Paul has taken great care to emphasize that the manifestations of the Spirit within us are to be a unifying force, not a source of division. He continues this discussion through 12:12-26 with a lengthy analogy in which he uses the human body as am example to illustrate how manifestations of the Spirit work in the Body of Christ. Just as each body part in the human body is necessary for the well being of the entire body, so also is each manifestation of the Spirit in the Body of Christ. Thus, each brother and sister in the Body has his or her own role to play, according to God’s plan and provision, and no one is more important than the rest.
That is such a simple lesson, you would think we’d learn it some day!
He sums this up at the end of the chapter:
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
We cannot choose our spiritual gifts, for as we have seen, they are distributed by the Holy Spirit according to His good pleasure. Yet we can desire greater gifts, and as we grow in maturity in the Lord, we may come to receive some of the more mature ones. Should we desire one of these “greater gifts” it will help us if we bear in mind that jealousy and envy, not to mention anger and resentment, will not likely hasten the day along to a greater gift.
Paul has a better way for members of the Body of Christ to orient themselves as they follow the Lord Jesus Christ through this life: The way of love.