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Kingdom Values at Work

1 Corinthians 12:12-31; 13:1-13 May 19, 26

Here is a great explanation for understanding how God has set up the administration of the gifts and how they’re distributed and why. As with our natural bodies compensation by another part can be made at times when a part isn’t doing what it was intended to do. Basically, it makes perfect sense for each part to do that for which it was designed. And when we ALL accept that this is by design, we all complement each other as intended. When we start thinking we should do things we weren’t intended to do, we find ourselves in ugly competition. These are kingdom values at work. Those in the supportive, behind-the-scenes gifted positions really do make it possible for the up-front positions to use their gifts. In other words, as Paul says, the “less honorable” gifts, make the up-front gifts “more presentable”, i.e. the up-front gifts couldn’t do it without the behind-the-scenes gifts. These are kingdom values at work.

And while we are the body of Christ in the flesh on earth, we are at the same time, individually members of it. We retain a rare distinctiveness since we are each made uniquely in the image of God and we retain an inextricable connectedness that binds us together forever. Another unique kingdom value and understanding.

Everyone doesn’t do everything, right? The rhetorical answers to all of Paul’s questions is, no. If it’s your desire to do something else, that to this point you have not been gifted to do, don’t pretend you can do whatever it is, rather take it up with God and tell him of your desire. It’s up to Him to give you the gift or not. We must, without giving up on the gifts, seek God for how to steward them rightly. Knowing Jesus better and better is one of the best ways to do this as illustrated in the parable He told. {Matthew 24:14-29}

But in the mean time, Paul doesn’t leave us wanting in specifics for how to practice using the gifts we were given. He says He has a still, more excellent way to steward gifts.

Regardless of the gift, if it is not used in love it is being misused. Paul isn’t singling out tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, generosity and giving, or even martyrdom as the gifts most often misused. Let’s be clear, every gift God gives can be distorted or used with poor motives. So, don’t look at any of these as gifts to be ignored or looked down upon.

Since he’s mentioning them however, they were probably most prevalent in the minds of the Corinthians, probably for how and how often they were demonstrated or at least talked about.

Also, since they’re mentioned we know they can be embraced for what they are - gifts to be wielded in love for the benefit of others and to the glory of God.

“Love never fails…” So how is it that love never fails? Regardless if you are exercising a gift or not, whether you’re using a gift properly or not, you can always choose to love. We don’t choose our gifts, but we can choose to love.

Love covers a multitude of sins. {1 Peter 4:8} These are kingdom values at work.

If you find yourself exercising your gift but not being able to bring it in line with one of the markers here in this passage, something is wrong with your implementing the gift. It could be called, user error. Seek God’s grace and guidance for the power and will to change.

Every gift can be used for the common good. And as members of the body of Christ, we are all ministers and gifted to do that to which we are called to do.

You also have been placed in a specific locale, knowing a specific network of people. All the people you rub shoulders with each day are your sphere of influence. Use your particular gift(s) shaped by love in your sphere of influence.

You can do it – by the grace of God, YOU CAN DO IT. This is a kingdom value at work.

Does it seem surprising to you that even these usually very public gifts can used in a way that is NOT in love? (tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, generosity and giving, martyrdom) Think about the ways each could be distorted and then about how they can be used properly.

What would each look like when used rightly and when misused?

Why gifts at all? The gifts are partial abilities to fill in gaps where we’re lacking. One day it will be filled all in all, but for now we have gifts. When we see Christ face to face, the need for these types of things will be gone.

God didn’t have to give us these spiritual gifts. There are any number of ways He could have administrated the Church and the world. This is what He has chosen to do. So, rather than resist, we should be glad we’re given gifts, joyfully receive them and use them as best we can until we no longer need them. These are kingdom values at work. One day, not only will the need to fill gaps with gifts be gone, but so will the longing to fully know Christ and to be known by Him be gone. There will be no more second guessing. Our current ability to see only dimly as in a mirror will be taken to new levels of clarity and vividness. {1 John 3:2} Mirrors then were not what they are today or as clear as they are today. But even today, when squeaky clean, the image I see in the mirror is still not really me. It is only a really good reflection of my image. It is not me.

But in the then, we will see all with face-to-face clarity and depth. Even Christ. Does that level of intimacy give you pause? It does me. It’s a little scary. I will be exposed. I will be seen for who I am.

But at the very same time, I will see Christ as HE is as well. And the way He is, THAT is THE saving grace. He is not shocked nor appalled by my sin. He already died for it. He already overcame it. He loves me despite it.

If you are His today, there really is no fear in love. His Perfect love casts our fear. {1 John 4:18} “But now…” Right now, in this life, on this earth, in this universe, until that all dramatically changes, There are three great ways to live: live in hope, live in faith, and live in love. But the greatest of these greats is to live in and show love as Jesus showed us love.

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