1 Corinthians (The Message Version unless otherwise noted)
1 Corinthians 12
1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God's Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often mis-understood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn't know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It's different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say "Jesus be damned!" Nor would anyone be inclined to say "Jesus is Master!" without the insight of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, I try to use my wisdom and understanding in business, help me to use it in my spiritual life too. But also help me to seek YOUR wisdom and understanding, both now in my prayer time, but also every minute of my day to day life. My understanding is so often wrong. Help me be informed and wise through You and Your Word, not my own mind.
4-11God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
Jesus, I see this list and I know I need them so much in my life. I know You give them as You please. I also know that when much is given much will be required. You know I have failed You before. I trust You to give me what You want, and then send others to me with the gifts they have that I need. I also volunteer to be sent to others who need what You have given me. But Lord, I don't know what my spiritual goal of future is right now. Do I have a mission? Am I failing or following?
In looking over this list Lord, the one I want the most is wise counsel, but the one I feel called to pray for is simple trust (faith). You have called me to simple faith lately. My life has not been at all stable or predictable the last 6 months. As a matter of fact, I thought my family was falling apart sometimes. But You were watching, and things are suddenly so much better. I don't know why I ever doubted You.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
12-13You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
Jesus, You have made me part of something larger than myself. Thank-you! Your life in me really does sustain me. I don't really understand the unity between myself and my Christian brothers and sisters. I know it is there, but I also know it is much more than I realize. Open my eyes and heart and ears and mind so I can see how my sins hurt others and my prayers help others. Help me feel connected to the rest of Your body and help me be a good, healthy, productive part of Your body.
14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
Jesus, I think You are telling me that I have a distinct and important role in Your body and in Your plan. I have a place and function that others need. I don't really see it now, but I'll accept that on faith. Lord, whatever the role is You have for me, no matter how lowly, I accept it now. Give me the strength and the kindness to do it well in Your love.
19-24But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it's a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
Jesus, help me to strive to be lowly. I can imagine You looking down from heaven with so much love for the poor person who gives money to a missionary, even though she herself is poor. Yes, help me to strive to make small difference in an unnoticed way to the simple people that are in my life every day.
25-26The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
Jesus, Your body appears to me to be pretty sick. There is a lot of suffering out there. But I don't see things like You do, and suffering isn't always bad (cross). Lord, help me see that if one is suffering, we are all suffering, even if we don't see it. Help me see this even in my own family, and in my team at work. Help me not cause unnecessary pain, but give me the wisdom to know that sometimes suffering bring growth. Help me see and feel other's pain and problems, and help as You would.
27-31You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything. You're familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his "body":
those who pray in tongues.
But it's obvious by now, isn't it, that Christ's church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It's not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called "important" parts.
Jesus, I don't deserve any part of Your body at all. I have hurt so many and sinned so much. I'll take any role You give me. I don't want anything that is showy or important because I'm not a good example of anything. But if You have a job for me, I'll take it, even if I don't "want" it. I'd love to help any way I can.
But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.