1 Corinthians 12:26


Saturday, 27 December 2014

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26

In this verse, Paul completes his thoughts concerning the natural body and how each part interacts with the other parts. His words are a universally understood maxim. He says that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” If a person is walking along in great shape and he suddenly stubs his toe on a rock (ouch!), the entire body will feel the pain, the entire body will be stopped in its motion, and the entire body will work in a harmonious fashion to effect healing.

Blood will be pumped, brain chemicals will be released, tears may be shed, lungs will fill with healing oxygen, etc. The left arm doesn’t continue on the journey, leaving the rest of the body behind. The fingernails don’t leave the body and decide to head back home. Rather, every part stays and each part accomplishes what is necessary to make things right. If the accident was a thorn instead of a rock, the fingernails will participate in the removing of the thorn. The left hand may hold the foot while the right hand does the pulling. Everything is joined in the effort of one hurting big toe.

Plato understood this when he wrote these words – “As in the body, when but a finger is hurt, the whole frame, drawn towards the soul and forming one realm under the ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together with the part affected” (“Republic,” v., 462).

In the same way, when honor is bestowed upon a part of the body, something different occurs. Paul says that “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” If the back is treated to a massage (oooooh, ahhhh!), the rest of the body shares in the sensation. The mind relaxes, the lungs quiet down to a slow pace, the arms stop worrying about the loads they normally carry. They eyes get heavy and close in delight. It is a harmonious interaction of enormous satisfaction.

Life application: When someone in your church is negatively affected by life’s trials, do you share in their miseries? When someone in your church is honored for their efforts along life’s path, do you revel in their glory as well? This is what should occur. If we truly are a united body, then we should truly be united in that regard.

Lord God, grant me empathy towards those I am united to in this life. Help me to feel compassion for their trials, hurts, anxieties, and times of sadness. Let me not overlook their sad state with a careless heart. And Lord, for those who have received honor in some way, help me to glory with them, rejoicing in their times of happiness and exultation. I know that many people act this way towards me, and I wish to be responsive in the same way towards them. Soften my heart to be a person of empathy. Amen.



1 Corinthians 12:25


Friday, 26 December 2014

…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

Paul has been speaking of the body parts and their importance, even if there are some that are seemingly unimportant. But he informed us that “God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it.” It is with this thought in mind that he now gives the reason God has done these things. It is “that there should be no schism in the body.”

This word, schism, is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 1:10 as he was opening the letter. It indicates a “division.” This is exactly what precipitated the writing of the letter in the first place. There in 1:10 he said –

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

His use of the body parts to show the importance of each of them, regardless of how they are perceived at first, is to show that they are all “perfectly joined together.” He is returning the body of this entire section back to the original thought of Chapter 1. Understanding this, we can see the heart of Paul (and God who inspired his writings) for unity within the congregation and felicity between the various members. And this is so that “the members should have the same care for one another.”

As the epistle is given for this very purpose, then it is immensely important that the body of believers holds fast to what God has intended. Within the congregation, let no self-exalting occur and let no deprecation of others be found. Rather, let there be care for one another.

Life application: It won’t hurt you a bit to treat the seemingly lowest person in the church with kindness and respect. And it won’t hurt one iota to humble yourself before those you worship with. In fact, doing both will increase your esteem in the eyes of the Lord.

Heavenly Father, give me a humble heart to look at others with the same eyes that You do. Help me to be kind and respectful, even to those who may seem unlovable. Whoever walks through the door of the church is there to be in the church. Let me not exalt myself over them, but instead remind me to treat them in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples whom He created and gave life to. In this, I know You will be pleased. Amen.


1 Corinthians 12:24


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

…but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 1 Corinthians 12:24

In the previous verse, Paul spoke of the “unpresentable parts” of the body and how we cover them because they have “greater modesty.” He now notes that this is completely unnecessary for “our presentable parts.” Parts of the body which show no offense to others, which are not considered immoral when displayed openly, or those which we are not shy about presenting because they are somehow weaker or defective, are openly displayed.

And so there is a contrast in how we exhibit these parts. Likewise, there is a contrast in how our gifts are displayed. All of them are given by God. It is He who has “composed the body.” And in this, there is actually great wisdom because He has essentially “given greater honor to that part which lacks it.” As noted yesterday, we are showing honor to these unpresentable parts through their covering. Thus we are actually highlighting them through concealment.

Think of this on an individual basis. Suppose there is someone who has electrical skills in the church. He is quiet and doesn’t want his gift noted for everyone to see and compliment. When something electrical needs to be done, he will do it. The church may have a fantastic display of Christmas lights, innovative lighting of signs or areas of the building, or a truly unique layout of certain display units, etc. All of these have brought honor both to the body and to God, and yet at the same time, this part of the body was essentially covered from the view of others. Those who need to know the use of this gift will appreciate and acknowledge it directly while others will acknowledge it from afar.

Life application: Your gift has been given for the benefit of the whole. Use it for that purpose and to the honor of God who gave it.

Lord God, so many people have done marvelous things to keep the church running properly, looking good, and meeting the many needs which arise. Some of them are known to the church as a whole and some of them have been done quietly, without anyone seeing it. But You see it all. Please reward those who diligently use their gifts for the benefit of the whole body. Let them know what they have done is appreciated by all. Amen.



1 Corinthians 12:23


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 1 Corinthians 12:23

Continuing with how we handle the parts of the body and the interaction between those parts, Paul now mentions an observable truth. “Those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor.” There are parts of the body which may seem less honorable than others. The ear for example may not seem to be worth as much attention as the eyes. And yet the ear may be given a beautiful gold earring to highlight it. The fourth finger on the hand may seem like an afterthought compared to the thumb, the pinky, or the middle finger. However, we tend to adorn this one with a ring of gold more often than the others.

The feet don’t shout out for much attention; they’re just feet. And yet, we may spend an inordinate amount of money on a variety of shoes to call attention to who we are. The shoes direct the eyes of others to the feet despite their otherwise plain appearance. And so it is true with members within the church. There are those who attend church, never missing a sermon. But they may be quiet and not flaunt their faithful attendance. They also may not strive to be noticed in any other way. And yet if the pastor is wise, he will call attention to such faithful attendees during a sermon, using them as examples for the others to emulate. Likewise, he may call them up for a special gift, noting their faithfulness to the church.

Paul continues with the thought that “our unpresentable parts have greater modesty.” There are those parts which distinguish us as male or female. These are covered for modesty’s sake. There are also blemishes that some carry because of sickness, wounds, or birth defects. We will often cover these from sight. In essence, we are showing honor to these unpresentable parts through their covering. Thus we are actually highlighting them through concealment. Paul will explain the result of this in the coming verse.

Life application: There is no person who is without value within the body. It is our duty to seek out the special points of each of these people and to recognize them for the value they possess. By doing so, they will know that they are of importance to us.

Lord, help me to treat each person with the importance that they possess in Your eyes. You are the Creator and You don’t make mistakes. And so, every person has dignity and value in some way. Give me discerning eyes to see this and to highlight it. Help me to recognize them as the beautiful souls that they are and to emphasize their good points to others too. This I ask so that You will be glorified though their realization that You have given them this value because of Your love for them. Amen!



1 Corinthians 12:22


Monday, 22 December 2014

No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 1 Corinthians 12:22

Paul is continuing on with his thoughts concerning the importance of all parts of the body. In this verse he notes something which is obvious but possibly not commonly thought of. There are a multitude of body parts and we often think about the ones that we use a lot and which have strength. Our hands, arms, biceps, tongue, legs, etc. are things that we think about because we voluntarily use them and we also work hard to strengthen them for tasks.

On the other hand, we have body parts that are hidden away and very fragile. The inner body parts like the liver, heart, lungs, and so on aren’t things we normally think about as being “strong” or capable of doing great tasks. They are in there and they do their job, but we may consider them “weaker” in regards to our normal functioning. We don’t spend time exercising our liver, do we? And yet, how necessary it is!

We can’t function properly at all without them and when they fail, the body will die. However, if a leg fails, we can chop it off and continue to live. If we lose a hand, it may be a terrible loss, but we can make up for it by using the other hand or even the feet to accomplish necessary tasks.

If we think of these parts as different members of the church, we can see the importance of them. The pastor (maybe he is a right hand) gets lots of attention and he is often sent to schools or seminars for strengthening and learning, but the person who cleans the bathrooms (maybe he is a liver) is neglected. But what happens if the bathroom doesn’t get cleaned for a while? The body will suffer and people will stop coming to that church. Without congregants, the body dies. The pastor’s job can be filled by another pastor in the church and the church will continue, but if no one is there to replace the cleaner, then the church may actually suffer more than the loss of the pastor!

Life application: Be sure to thank the person who cleans the church. Let them know that they are appreciated.

Yes Lord! I am so happy to be in Your presence that nothing else really matters. The world is a great place and there are lots of fun things to do, but all of them came from Your hand. If these things are fantastic, then how much more are You who created them! The sweetest smell, the most beautiful sunrise, or a walk under a billion stars… these are but a mere reflection of Your beauty. Yes Lord! I am so happy to be in Your presence! Amen.