Week beginning Sunday 15th July
This is the next part of 1 Corinthians 1 on which we reflect this week.
I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.
These few words announce a theme that Paul is going to expand on at some length later in the letter. The whole issue of gifts from God to each believer was hugely significant for the Christian believers in Corinth, but it not until we come to chapters 12-14 that we read much more about it.
This is for some an unexpected element of beginning the life of faith following Jesus. We begin by submitting to Him as Lord and accepting His rule in our lives. Everything we have and are belong to Him – every aspect of life whether it be home, work or leisure comes under His rule as Lord. This is not a one-way business however; it is not as if we have handed everything over to God and there is no return. Far from it says Paul, God has an abundance of gifts which he bestows on believers. You might begin the week by reflecting on the common gifts – gifts God gives to all; the presence of the Holy Spirit, the ability to pray and communicate with God, forgiveness for our sins, and so on. But Paul is also thinking about individual gifts which we often refer to as ‘Spiritual Gifts’. Clearly, the Corinthian believers had experienced some of these gifts but there had not always been wisdom in how they were being used. They had probably written to Paul to ask for his advice; hence the reading begins ‘Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this.’ Then by verse 12 he comes to the nub of the issue, ‘It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.’ In other words, you can’t choose your gifts, God the Holy Spirit gives them according to His sovereign purposes. We don’t all get the same gifts and no gift is deserved, so rejoice in the grace of God the Giver, and faithfully use whatever gift you have received.
Now ask yourself, what gift has God given you, and are you using it well?