By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
The church at Corinth was truly a problem church, wouldn’t you agree? Just reading I Corinthians you can’t help but feel the frustration of Paul, trying to help this immature, divisive, selfish and sinful church to unite in submission under Christ.
It’s no surprise they would ask Paul about spiritual gifts. It is likely some had begun to prioritize certain gifts over others and use them as a way to gain position or authority. They had created a virtual giftedness caste system.
In fairness, I’ve seen the same thing in today’s churches. Are we not tempted to value giftedness over godliness, competence and charisma over character, personality over personal holiness, results over revival?
We often see men with exceptional gifting and ability elevated to a point of near deity, regardless their spiritual maturity or personal holiness. We excuse flagrant sin for the facade of success. This practice quickly gives way to division, unhealthy competition, self-promotion and so much of the sin sickness we see in the pages of this book.
Paul is reminding Christians about the source, purpose and proper use of gifts. It is clear the source of all grace and giftings is God alone. The Spirit distributes gifts as He sees fit. There are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit.
This should cause each of us to gladly use our service in service with thankfulness He would give us anything to give back to Him. Dispensing our gifts should not be a burden or self-promoting but an act of worship to Holy God.
The purpose of our gifts is just that, worship. Gifts edify the church when they are used rightly. They build the Church by adding to it and continue to build believers up in Christ. Our gifts do not point to ourselves but to King Jesus. Whatever gifts you have, they should compel people to worship God and not yourself.
We take our abilities, gifts, skills and all we are and lay them at the altar as servants who only desire to serve their Master faithfully. The proper use of gifts flows from this singular purpose.
Whatever the gift, it is to be used from a posture of submission. We are a people under authority. We are under the authority of God and we willingly submit ourselves to the authority of the local church. The Corinthians were clamoring for status and power, but they were called to submit to one another as they submitted, together, to Christ.
This is so contrary to everything in our sinful nature and culture, that is perhaps exactly why God commands it. A person’s attitude toward authority is a very good indicator of their maturity. In fact, a person is not worthy of authority unless they are already submitting well to authority. We are a naturally rebellious and selfish people. We see submission as weakness.
It is no wonder when Christians don’t get their way they go to another church or quit altogether. It is no surprise, then, that we are so weak, fragmented, frustrated and just as irrelevant in our culture as the Corinthians. Our only hope is to be unified in mutual submission to our awesome King Jesus. Let’s seek our own surrender. B&R