Gifts for the Common Good

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV, emphasis added)

As I was revisiting this passage from yesterday’s message (kudos to Angie for a job well done!), that last phrase in v. 7 caught my eye: for the common good. Though it is not specified, Paul is most likely referring here to the good of the church. As we exercise our gifts, we benefit and build up the whole body of believers.

And yet I couldn’t help thinking that the manifestation of the Spirit really does affect the common good of all people, whether they find themselves in a church or not. In Matthew 12:28, Jesus connects the work of the Spirit with the coming of the kingdom of God. And I think it is fair to say that wherever the Spirit is manifesting gifts, the kingdom is also coming. And this is good for everyone because where the kingdom is coming, things are being made right and God’s will is being done.

What’s more, this view takes spiritual gifts out of the realm of a spiritualized personal fulfillment and places them in the context of participating in the larger mission of God to redeem, reconcile and renew all things. Exercising our own gifts, then, becomes an opportunity to be caught up in the Spirit’s work to manifest the kingdom of God. We get to be channels of the Spirit’s recreating power, the very tools by which the Spirit is working to make all things new. And that is worth getting excited about.

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