International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 17, 2015
Purpose: To see the value of each person’s gifts for the church
Bible Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Key Verse: We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (CEB)
(12) Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. (13) We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. (14) Certainly the body isn’t one part but many. (15) If the foot says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not a hand,” does that mean it’s not part of the body? (16) If the ear says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not an eye,” does that mean it’s not part of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, what would happen to the hearing? And if the whole body were an ear, what would happen to the sense of smell? (18) But as it is, God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted. (19) If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body? (20) But as it is, there are many parts but one body. (21) So the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” or in turn, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” (22) Instead, the parts of the body that people think are the weakest are the most necessary. (23) The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we honor the most. The private parts of our body that aren’t presentable are the ones that are given the most dignity. (24) The parts of our body that are presentable don’t need this. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the part with less honor (25) so that there won’t be division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other. (26) If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. (27)You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. (28) In the church, God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, the ability to help others, leadership skills, different kinds of tongues. (29) All aren’t apostles, are they? All aren’t prophets, are they? All aren’t teachers, are they? All don’t perform miracles, do they? (30) All don’t have gifts of healing, do they? All don’t speak in different tongues, do they? All don’t interpret, do they? (31) Use your ambition to try to get the greater gifts. And I’m going to show you an even better way.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Paul, in this letter tries to adjust the Corinthians thinking on what is important. Within the Corinthian church, tongues seem to be the preferred gift. Notice that when Paul responds he list tongues last and Apostles first. The church at Corinth had it just reversed, they had cast aspersions on the Apostle Paul, and elevated those that spoke in tongues.
Paul’s call for unity identifies different gifts, but all serving one Lord, and one body. All churches need a variety of gifts of the Spirit to function best. Churches need preachers, teachers, janitors, administrators, and other gifts of help to be a proper functioning body.
Paul also says we should strive to get even better gifts than those that we have acquired easily. Some gifts seen to come to us naturally. Paul suggest that we can achieve more than the obvious, if we stretch our faith we can obtain even greater gifts. Paul shares what that greater gift is in our final lesson of the quarter.
All gifts of the Spirit should build up and unify the body of believers. When gifts are not used to unify, then we need to take a critical look. The gifts may not be from the Spirit, but are rather personal agendas and not for the good of the body of believers.
Being the most handsome or the best spoken does not assure us that it is more important than being the one hidden from view, or the one in the background. As Paul says, “on those we bestow the most honor or dignity.”
As the hymn writer says, they will know we are Christians by our Love. (One in the Spirit)