“For The Common good,” the apostle says, for your good and theirs God has given His gifts “to each,” a manifestation of the Spirit given to them for you. It was given to you, for them, too. They need you here. You need them. I need you in my life, too. God declares no less to us here.

Hear the full audio of For The Common Good

A sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV)

Tenth Sunday after Trinity / 5 August 2018

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV)

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Corinth has a real problem. Some of their members don’t like the other ones at all. Some of the members don’t like their pastors. Some pastors can’t stand the other pastors. Some students can’t stand their teachers. But perhaps the saddest problem of all, many of the members seem so stuck on themselves, that rather than asking what they can offer, what they can do to help, what service they can render to their neighbors here—Corinth seems stuck in the self-centered, self-serving question “Do I even really belong here?” Or worse, “Do they even really belong here?”

The rest of 1 Corinthians 12 deals with these real problems in the body of Christ. He quotes what they’re quietly saying to themselves, “Because of [this thing], I don’t belong” or “Because of [that], …I don’t need you.” Feeling excluded, or the impulse to reject and exclude others…that’s where it finally winds up whenever we lose faith, focus and clear vision of who God is and what the Holy Spirit is really up to in this place.

These problems in Corinth, they are not new, nor all that different from our own struggles with other fellow Christians, sometimes. Paul lays down a foundation for us, one aimed at helping us finally get over ourselves and really get into what God is doing for others—and doing *through* others he brings into His church. He brings redeemed sinners here into in our lives.

“To each,” Paul says. “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit.” The moment I forget this word “each” or cease to believe it is true about you or even about me, I’ll soon enough conclude that I don’t belong and am not needed here, or that I don’t need you and you shouldn’t be here either. So we must learn this word “each.” “To each one is given” the manifest grace of God.

God’s grace is given to you, you belong here. God’s grace has been given to me, too. So do I. And here we are, each in possession of what we’ve been given by God, His utterly undeserved grace is our common gift.

Now we could just shrug our shoulders, say thanks! We could tuck that little word “each” in our pockets and be off our own merry way, except for the words that follow after “for the common good” “To each,” might make us each feel better about ourselves belonging here, in spite of our weaknesses and faults. But “for the common good” forbids all our self-centered spirituality, which might say “ok, now I got whatever God gave me, I don’t need you.”

“For The Common good,” the apostle says, for your good and theirs God has given His gifts “to each,” a manifestation of the Spirit given to them for you. It was given to you, for them, too. They need you here. You need them. I need you in my life, too. God declares no less to us here.

This consumer lifestyle we live, where we come to get and gather what we want for ourselves and our own, but none for our neighbor, nothing for our sisters or brothers in Christ, such a spiritual consumerism must die in our hearts. We are not gathered merely to consume and grow rich in God’s grace for ourselves. The gifts God had given to you or to me are not meant to be spent selfishly, but poured out and lovingly lent in service “for the common good.”

“To each” declares each one of us has been given something Spirit wrought, heaven sent. Not all our gifts are the same, except that the same Lord gave you whatever little or much you’ve got now—and the same Lord has given gifts to me. “For The Common good” shows us all how by faith, the Holy Spirit seeks to employ us and our gifts, working together for the benefit of the Church of Christ, the body of Christ, made manifest here.

“Manifest” is a glorious word, declaring God’s Spirit is not offended by your flesh and blood, but pleased to dwell in it as His temple and work through it to bless us all. If we would find God’s grace made manifest in the flesh, we need look no further than you, Christian. Baptized, forgiven, blessed you is just what the Lord knows we need now in our lives.

Our sinful eyes see no further than skin and bones. Alone, apart from Christ, these flaws, failures and faults would surely offend us and soon send us running away from you. But by grace alone, God saves sinners and makes genuine saints of them, fit to serve His purposes by faith.

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” These glorious words proclaim we ought no more find fault in your mere humanity, nor scorn, despise or reject one another—but rather faith finds cause to gladly welcome your gifts, and exchange ours with you in love and joy. For Christ has taken on our flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of our neighbors, and redeemed it all, to deliver us all. Receive His gifts in the measure He gives you. Receive each other as gifts freely given, in Christ. So the Spirit makes his work manifest, for the common good.

21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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