My son is extremely artistic. He is creative and has an imagination that I envision as resembling that of a Disney animation art director. He gets his brilliant, artistic mind from the Lord and his father—not so much from me. In fact, I’m the complete opposite. While I’m creative, I’m not at all artistic, and my imagination isn’t one for the books. I remember a day when my son was four years old, and he put his little hand on mine and began to pray, “Lord, make mommy’s hands be able to draw.” It was a sweet prayer. I looked at him when he was finished and simply said, “God may never make mommy’s hands able to draw. But he has given me other gifts for His glory.” He didn’t get it then, but, thankfully, he now understands the unique ways that God has gifted each of us.
There are many of us in the church who long to have hands that can draw, so to speak, when perhaps God has given us feet that can march. We may desire to play a certain role in the church for which God has ordained and equipped another. It could be that this desire truly comes out of a love of service, or it could be an indication that selfish ambition has taken root in our hearts and we are striving for our own glory. I find Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians to be helpful when thinking through where and how God has gifted us to serve in the local church.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that the body is one unit made up of many parts (1 Cor. 12:12). Though the parts of the body of Christ are made up of varying ethnicities, cultures, and ages, we are unified by the Spirit (12:13). Unity is the goal, but as we see at the beginning of 1 Corinthians, the church is divided and some members may value certain gifts over others (1:10–31). Paul uses the imagery of a physical body to provide truth and correction.
The body is indeed made up of many parts, and these parts are not all the same. The eye is not like the mouth. Each has different and unique functions. And the same is true for our ears and our hands. A healthy body is one in which all the parts are working together, but if a part is absent, it’s difficult for the body to function as fully as it should. The parts of the body are different, but none is of lesser importance or value than another. Read 1 Corinthians 12:21–23. Paul’s line of thinking seems backwards in our success-hungry society. Weakness isn’t often associated with greatness. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His wisdom isn’t our wisdom (Isa. 55:8–9).
The temptation to value certain gifts over others didn’t end with the first-century church. We, too, are plagued with the same temptation to value certain gifts over others. We can forget that God is the giver of gifts and that they are meant not for our glory but for His. As we remember that God is the giver of all good things, including gifts that He apportions as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11), we can be content with what we have and put it to good use. We must ask the giver of good gifts to help us walk in love and unity in the body. For we know that love never ends (13:8).