Cooperation in the Body

Dan Lenington on July 18, 2014

Have you ever heard the comment, "10% of the people do 90% of the work"? God never intended for that to be the case. Every single person who is born again has received a special endowment from the Holy Spirit to fulfill a function in the body of Christ. Sometimes more than one person has the same gift, and sometimes a person may have more than one gift. However, God intends for you to identify and activate your gift to support the operation of the body of Christ. Therefore, because you have a spiritual gift, you are commanded to use it for the edification of the church body. So are you using your spiritual gift to build unity in your church? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 that our spiritual gifts should create unity in three ways, Unity of Power, Unity of Purpose, and Unity of Participation.

There are diverse gifts that we can recieve, diverse roles for the use of each gift, and diverse results when each gift is used. The power to accomplish each of these aspects is provided by a separate member of the trinity. Verse four tells us that the Spirit is gives each Christian a gift at salvation and that each one is meant to help supply the needs of the body. Have you discovered what you spiritual gift is yet? Verse five tells us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, oversees the use of these gifts in ministering to the body. He unites the body with the different roles each of us have. It is His body after all. Are you using your gift to minister to the collective body of Christ? Finally, verse six tells us that God the Father unifies the results of each gift being used to serve the body. He energizes each person to use each gift to benefit all. Are you consciously depending on God to effectively use your gift? Without His help and guidance that gift meant for good can do great harm to the body of Christ.

Paul emphasizes in verse severn the Unity of Purpose for which each gift has been given. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." The purpose of each gift is for the direct profit or enrichment of the body. No gift is meant for personal enrichment or profit. Simon was rebuked for thinking he could buy the power to convey the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands for personal satisfaction and profit (Acts 8:18-20). Are you using your gift to enrich the body of Christ? Other passages discussing spiritual gifts emphasize the edification of the body of Christ as the other primary purpose for these gifts. 1 Cor. 14:4-5, 12, 17 and Eph. 4:11-12 state categorically that spiritual gifts are alwasy for the growth of the body. If your gift is not building up the body, you are misusing it! Are you using your gift to build up and expand the body of Christ?

Finally, let's take a look at the individual gifts listed in Scripture to highlight the Unity of Participation intended for their use in the body. 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28; Eph. 4:11; and Rom. 12:6-8 give a list of 20 spiritual gifts. I have organized them into the following four categories: The Scholarly Gifts - Word of wisdom (Speech full of Biblical truth and direction), Word of Knowledge (Speech full of biblical insight and understanding), Discernment of Spirits (Evaluation of spiritual practice and ideas with God's Truth), Teaching (One who skillfully teaches God's Word to others), Faith (Practical faith that claims God's promises and sees results). The Service Gifts - Ministering (Same word as deacon, one who serves others), Exhortation (One who encourages and challenges others), Mercy (One who gives grace and pity to the struggling), Help (Taking the initiative to help the needy), Giving (One who sacrificially gives to help others). The Sign Gifts - Healing (Miraculous acts of healing to authenticate the ministry of the early church), Miracles (The works of power done to authenticate the ministry of the early church), Tongues (The miraculous speaking of unknown but real languages to warn Israel of coming judgment I Cor. 14:21-22), Interpretation of Tongues (The sometimes miraculous interpretation of God's messages spoken in foreign languages for the instruction of the church). The Supervising Gifts - Apostle (The foundational church leader with authority over the early churches), Prophet (The foundational leader who proclaims direct revelation from God), Pastor (A leader who protects and shepherds the people of God), Evangelist (A leader who excels at spreading the gospel), Governing/Ruling (A leader who oversees the business of the church). Some of these gifts such as the sign gifts and the apostle and prophet are no longer active since their purpose in establishing the foundation of the church was completed (Eph. 2:20, 1 Cor. 13:8-10). However, the other gifts will be represented in each church that yields to the guidance of the Spirit in identifying and implementing their spiritual gifts.

 You may not have a gift that everyone recognizes and praises, but you are nonetheless vital to the successful operation of the body. You may only have one gift while someone else has five, but you will be rewarded equally if you are faithful in the unselfish use of that gift in support of the body of Christ. Are you still standing on the sidelines cheering others on? It's time to get in the fight! Maybe you are trying to use a gift that you don't have. Find where you fit, and get busy! Don't be like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out.