Year C – Second Sunday after the Epiphany – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Summary – Paul has been dealing, among other things, with issues of unity in the Corinthian church, one of the overarching themes of the book of Corinthians.  In chapter 12, the topic of the Spirit is broached as a primary agent of unity within the church.  The Spirit does certain things, and not other things, Paul says.  It seems clear that someone can say “Jesus is Lord” and yet not truly mean it, but all those who truly believe that Jesus is Lord do so unquestionably because of the Spirit’s work.  Though the individuals of the church have different skills, these differences are not to cause bickering and resent because ultimately they derive from the Spirit.  Nor is Paul’s list of “spiritual gifts” meant to include each and every aspect of the Spirit’s work in the lives of believers: it is an exemplary list meant to illustrate that though Christians are endowed with widely diverse gifts, these are meant to work together for the common good.

Insight – What do flags, windmills, and sailboats have in common?  It would seem like they have nothing in common!  Flags are meant to communicate something, windmills grind grain or produce electricity, and sailboats provide transportation.  Communication, production, and transportation are things that could hardly be more different from each other.  But as you have probably already guessed, they DO have something in common:  they are all powered by the blowing of the wind.  What good would it be for people to argue about whether flags, windmills, or sailboats are better?  Sure, a flag is bad at grinding grain, and windmills don’t float very well, but because they are different things, they can’t really be compared as to which object is better.  Think about the people you know who are Christians.  Are they all exactly the same?  Is everyone as good at preaching as everyone else?  Is each one as wise as everyone else?  Of course not.  Every Christian has different gifts, and every gift comes from the same place:  the Holy Spirit!  When a flag, a windmill, and a sailboat use the power of the wind for a common purpose, they can make flour and ship it across the ocean in a magnificent sailing ship with flags flying in the wind.  Likewise we, instead of arguing about which spiritual gift is better than the others, could accomplish much more by using our Spirit-given gifts for a common purpose!

Child Catechism – Where does every spiritual gift come from?  The Holy Spirit.

Discussion – What gifts or abilities has God blessed you with?  How can you use these for the good of the church?

Prayer – Almighty God, we thank you for the blowing wind of the Spirit who works in the world to inspire the authors of Scripture, move unbelieving hearts to believe, and endow believers with gifts given for the edification of your Body.  We ask that you would continually fill us with the mind of your Son Jesus that we would use our talents to best further your Kingdom.  We ask this in the name of Christ, Amen.

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