1 Corinthians 14:12 - So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
One has to appreciate the apostle Paul's interest in a functional church. Here in writing to believers at Corinth, he deals with a number of issues that were affecting the faith and lives of this early congregation.
Let's see, there was division in the church, sexual immorality, frivolous lawsuits among members, issues regarding marriage and circumcision, the persistence of idolatry, the prideful use and misuse of spiritual gifts—all these things, and undoubtedly more, plagued the life of this church, so much so that Paul spoke to this congregation as though they were babies in the faith.
"But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
The problems that embroiled the life of believers at Corinth and the disruptions stifling that church's overall health and spiritual maturity, sadly, are not uncommon among churches today. We, too, have issues that divide us, concerns that tear us down and wear us out, misunderstandings that erode our unity and compromise our integrity as Christ-followers.
In response to this, Paul says we should "strive to excel in building up the church." Here he takes the reins in guiding the Corinthian assembly in the right direction. He reminds them that in their building up of the church, their focus on community and meeting needs, that Christ is the center—the One in whom all their allegiance lies. Special ties to Paul or Apollos or Cephas won't do. "For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building" (1 Corinthians 3:9).
When it comes to the dispersal of spiritual gifts, Paul again emphasizes the cooperative oneness of the body of Christ: "All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:11-13).
And what should really bind us together, as Paul so eloquently tells the Corinthians, and the many other churches he visited, is love. It's love that supersedes all else. It's love that shuns jealousy, shuns conceit, and petty differences. It's love that reaches out in difficult circumstances, leaning on Jesus, always seeking to be more like Him.
We are His body—a body built of individual members just like you and me.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, You have given us the privilege of being Your body on earth. Renew our minds and hearts to love others as You have loved us. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
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