October 21 I Sunday
1 Timothy 1
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” —Ephesians 4:7
Paul clearly emphasizes the importance of unity in the body of Christ at the beginning of Ephesians 4, but just as important to community is diversity. Though united by the same Spirit under the same Lord, Christ apportions to each of us specific gifts of grace.
For what purpose does Jesus give us these gifts? Paul answers by quoting from the Psalms, “When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people” (Ephesians 4:8). Christ first descended by His death and burial to liberate us from the power of sin, then ascended in resurrection power to take us as captives to Himself. He delivered us from one captivity to another. By liberating us from sin and bringing us into relationship with Himself, Christ now has the right to direct our lives and give us gifts to fulfill His agenda on earth.
Although we come to Christ individually, it was never intended that we would live the Christian life in isolation. Paul writes, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…. All these [gifts] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines…. But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:7-18). The differences between our gifts are complementary. God intentionally calls and equips us diversely so that out of our diversity, we might minister to one another, enrich each other and learn to depend on one another in areas where we are not as gifted.
For the body of Christ to function at its best, each member must play its part. “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” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22). Even if we do not have one of the high-profile gifts, every spiritual gift is valuable for encouraging and enabling the church as a whole to fulfill its task of reaching the world with the Gospel.
As Christians, we are to celebrate our diversity, but not for the sake of individualism. There is a beautiful meeting of unity and diversity in the body of Christ. By the Spirit’s enabling, we are to use our God-given gifts to build each other up so that together we might grow in knowledge of Christ, spiritual maturity and attain “to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for the diversity of people and gifts within Your church. Work through me and my gifts so I may be a vehicle of love to others.