The human body is an amazing thing. It can endure a beating in the ring. It can surpass limits that one has never met before. It can survive freezing temperatures at high altitudes. With the proper training, it is even capable of diving to great depths without being destroyed.
Every inch of the human body has a purpose. Feet, of course, allow us to walk. Our finger tips help us to touch. The lingual frenum (tongue web) holds the tongue to the floor of the mouth. So on and so forth. It would take hours to explain each function of each piece. The fact remains, though, that every piece matters, no matter how lowly one thinks themselves to be.
We who are believers and followers of Christ matter, each and every one of us has a purpose. Our life isn’t meaningless. God created us as beautiful and wonderfully made pieces and there is no doubt in my mind that if He took the time to create someone, He had a purpose for their life. However, because we are all different, because God gives each of us our own spiritual gifts, and because of our situations in our day-to-day life we are different pieces of the body of Christ. As Christ followers we must unite as the body of Christ — not allowing our differences to be a wedge that keeps us apart — and we must carry out our calling.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12 & 14)
A couple of Sunday’s ago we had a visitor deliver the sermon for the day. He spoke of our spiritual gifts and how we shouldn’t be upset by someone else’s efforts to help the kingdom grow. His example was about one of his kids. Before diving into the story he announced that after taking a spiritual gifts test he knew for a fact that his lowest spiritual gift was compassion. Thus, when one of his sons hurts himself he runs to the mother because she has a high level of compassion. She cuddles them, makes them feel better after taking an injury while on the flip side if it were he the son went to he would have told him to “walk it off, you’ll be fine”.
He took it a step further and said we shouldn’t envy nor judge others based on their spiritual gifts. If someone you know isn’t serving in hospitality or helping with kids church it doesn’t mean they’re lazy or don’t care, it just means their spiritual gifts aren’t in that field of service. We may not see where they are serving (for some serve in so many places outside of Sunday or Wednesday night events, they use those two days to rest and be fed), but it doesn’t mean they aren’t. Focusing on what someone else is or isn’t doing is a distraction for us to lead us astray from our ministry and can cause disruption in the church by encouraging negative emotions and behaviors. Everyone has their own path to walk as they fulfill what God has called them to do, and if they are truly living out scripture they aren’t going to boast about what they’re doing for they know what it means to be an unseen hand.
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4)
Finding and maintaining your spiritual gift is key to understanding where God wants you. The ministry/purpose God created you for will stem from this, for we cannot thrive in a field we have no gift or heart for. We were created to be different to care for the different needs of those around us, whether saved or lost. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot expand a little on our talents. Talents aren’t the same as gifts. Gifts come naturally. Talents, on the other hand, are skills we’ve strived in life to master. For example, some have the gift of a creative mind, but they have to develop skills within the creative fields to do something. An artist can see two scraps of construction paper, a glue stick, and a pair of scissors and can create a beautiful monochromatic piece. Yet, if they want to create a sketch or a painting, they must develop the skill to do so over time.
How does this apply to life in general? Well, while we’re gifted with some characteristics we can develop skills in others that we wish to achieve in order to grow and improve our serving skills in our ministry. For example, Annie F. Downs — a Christian Communicator who spoke at this years Women of Joy and whose podcast I’m catching up on — created a challenge for herself to grow more in her faith. Each year, she selects a word to focus on, study in the Bible, apply, and master. As an obvious extravert, she is gifted with the characteristic of speech. Yet, one year she selected ‘sabbath’ as her word so that she would remember and hold to resting one day a week from any work that needed to be done.
While resting isn’t a characteristic to develop, resting is key to our spiritual lives. God rested on the seventh day and He created us in His image. Thus, we should rest at least once a week, taking the time to develop our relationship with Him more and to take care of ourselves before we jump back in to caring for those around us the other six days. Going back, though, to our gifts and being parts of the body, no part nor gift is greater or lesser than the other. We are all created equally and we shouldn’t hinder, argue, hate, or envy each other because our gifts differ. A brain-dead body cannot move. A heartless body cannot live. Without feet, the body can’t walk. Without a mouth, the body cannot be heard. And without joints, the body cannot move.
We are to hold two things higher above all: love our Father God with all our strength, mind, heart, and soul, and love one another as ourselves. If our actions or emotions do not fit under those two, then are we really living for Christ? If we don’t wish to be hated or be the target of anger because of our gifts and how we serve the kingdom, we shouldn’t do that to our brothers and sisters of the faith.
“But in fact God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:18-26)