Have you ever been given something, got to use it so long that you thought it was yours only to have someone remind you that it was given to you? I think we are all prone to forget after a while where some things we have came from. It’s like some pastors with quotes. We have used them so often that we actually think we came up with them. The reality is that none of us own anything. Our clothes, jobs, money, family, and even our own life doesn’t belong to us. They are all gifts given to us from a loving, generous God. As a pastor has said, “We do not become stewards, we are stewards, either good ones or bad ones.” In 1 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul is continuing to deal with the problem of division in the church. Therefore, he reminds them of the truth that everything we are and everything we have comes from God. He writes in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
Paul is trying to drive home the point that it is God who created them, and gave them gifts to serve Him. It is God who made each of them different, and gifted them differently. Being different and having different gifts should have helped them have greater unity in the church. However, because of their pridefulness, and their desire to be the most important in the church, their diversity divided them. Therefore, Paul keeps circling back to this understanding that God is the One who created each of them, and gifted them. None of what they have is become of themselves, it is all a gift from Him.
When you and I remember that God is the true owner of everything, including our lives, it can free us up in many ways. First, remembering that everything I have is from God should cause me to praise God for His grace and the gifts He gives me. Second, it should cause me to celebrate God’s work, not only in me but also in other brothers and sisters. As a family, we are not trying to compete with one another. Instead, we should be cheering on one another and cooperating with one another to use what God has given us for His glory, and the good of the church. Next, we should allow our diversity to strengthen us and help us maintain the unity given to us by Jesus. When I see each person in the church as a co-image bearer in Christ, and as a gifted servant of God; it will change how I view them. Now instead of having to be the best at everything, I can focus on where God has gifted me, while cheering you on to use the gift(s) that God has given you. I can learn to see how each piece fits in the puzzle to form a complete, beautiful picture of God’s church. Finally, remembering that God is the giver of gifts allows me to have a right view of myself. I am convinced that the root of every sin is pride. After all, it is the sin that caused Satan to fall from heaven. Pride is what Satan tempted Adam and Eve with in the Garden, and pride how been the downfall of man ever since. However, when I realize that I do not possess all the gifts necessary to strengthen and build the church, I begin to see my dependency on God and others. I don’t have to be all things in the church. Instead of trying to make my weak skills a little stronger, I can pray that God will supply someone who is strong in areas that I am weak. Then, we empower each other to use our gifts for the glory of God and the good of the church. When I see myself as a piece of the puzzle, and not the puzzle itself, it allows me to value those around me. When we see value in each other, affirm each other’s gifts, and empower people to use their gifts; it gives a powerful witness to the community around us. It shows the power of the Gospel, because it become apparent that even though we are different in many ways, God is powerful enough to unite us in Him. I would argue that a divided world needs to see a united church. How can you help your church maintain its unity, and bear a Gospel witness to the watching world?
By His grace and for His glory,