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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 12:3b–13        

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 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, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

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 the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (NRSV)

I have a confession: I can be jealous—especially in church.

On any given Sunday I look around and find myself overwhelmed by the gifts among us: brilliant preaching, venerable music, a strong education program, dedicated volunteers in mission. Before I know it, I am rattling off a list of every gift I don’t have.

I wish I could preach a sermon like she does.
It would be great if I could teach Sunday School as well as he does.
Gosh, I wish I could sing as beautifully as they do.

Here’s the good news as told to us by Paul: the gifts of the Spirit differ. You might have the gift of teaching or healing, another is given the gift of preaching or prophecy, and I am given a completely different gift. And yet not one is more important than the other, because they are given to us by the same God to work towards the same kingdom.

I don’t know about you, but I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I’m free. God doesn’t expect me to be anything I’m not. God doesn’t expect me to excel in the same gift of the Spirit given to you—and likewise, God doesn’t expect you to excel in the same gift of the Spirit given to me or anyone else. God yearns for us to use our gifts in concert with one another, creating a symphony of justice, mercy, and beauty.

So maybe I can’t be completely cured of my envy—but this is a good place to start.

Almighty God, by your Spirit you grant a variety of gifts, so help me to make good and joyful use of those gifts given unto me that I may take my part in the Body of Christ and work to bring about your reign, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator

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