Paul continues on the topic of relationships within the Church in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. He speaks of the roles of men and women within the Church – how the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (11:3). But he clarifies that we all are dependent on each other and should recognize our need for one another.
But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God (1 Corin. 11:11-12).
So, if love and concern for others is what strengthens the church, and if we all need each other, then Paul goes on to ask – why are there divisions among you when you meet as a church? Why is there more harm than good coming out of your time together? (1 Corin. 11:17-18) The Holy Spirit gives each one of us special abilities or spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts are given so that we can help each other, not to divide us or for one of us to think we are more or less important than someone else in the body of Christ.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to speak to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have (1 Corin. 12:7-11).
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ…Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary…This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members CARE for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad…
You should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life (LOVE) that is best of all (1 Corinthians 12:12,14-22,25-26,31).
Lord, forgive us for the divisions that creep into the church and the quarreling that distracts us from what you have called us to do. Lord fill our hearts with Your love so that we may love each other unselfishly. Help us to see that we need each other and that You are glorified when we all function together as the body of Christ. Show us the way of life that is best of all – to love each other with the kind of love that will last forever (13:8). May love be our highest goal today! Amen.