1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1 About matters of the spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know how, when you were pagans, you were led to dumb idols-being led astray. 3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. 7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each one as He wills.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Many times we let ourselves believe that we have to have our lives together before God can really use us to serve others. But Paul tells us in verses 4-6 that the source of the service He calls us to isn't rooted in our own power, but in God’s power.
In Philippians 2:13, Paul again reminds believers that it is “God working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.” So, our ability to serve Him is not based on our willpower to avoid sin, but rather it is dependent on our willingness to surrender to God, and to allow Him to cleanse and empower us.
Recently, I was talking with a friend who has struggled in her marriage for years. Seven years ago her husband had an extra-marital affair, but because of his repentant heart and their commitment to allow God to heal and restore, their marriage has survived. In fact, my friend would tell you that in many ways their marriage has actually thrived!
Still, some days her anger from that situation revisits her. The day we were visiting was one of those days, and she was wrestling with some memories that caused her anger and resentment to flare.
As she was driving to her Bible Study that morning, she asked God to somehow bring glory to Himself through their marital struggles and to help her forgive her husband once again—even though she didn’t really want to.
After her study the Bible Study leader, who knew about my friend’s struggles, introduced her to someone who recently discovered that her husband had been unfaithful and was considering ending her marriage.
My friend, who has the gifts of encouragement and wisdom (see verse 8), was able to offer the woman hope—truth from God’s Word about His ability to restore, and prayer that she would have the endurance to keep fighting for her marriage.
In spite of my friend’s struggles, God was at work that day because she submitted to His power and allowed Him to work through her. Interestingly, she shared with me that through the words, verses, and prayers she offered this young woman, she also encouraged herself.
That’s the kind of God we serve—a God who takes our pain and reluctance and turns it into powerful hope for others and ourselves. All we have to do is allow Him into the situation by whispering a brief prayer or opening His transforming Word.
We don’t have to fix ourselves before we can be useful to God. He’s just looking for a surrendered willing heart that’s eager to serve despite its brokenness.
- In your time with God today, ask Him to show you the areas of your life where you allow fear or doubt to impede your service to others. In what ways do you hold back from using your gifts to serve others because you feel inadequate? Ask God to empower you beyond those barriers.
- Reflect on the times when you’ve done something to serve someone else and felt joyful as a result. Was it using one of the spiritual gifts in this passage?
- Memorize Philippians 2:13 and remind yourself that God is the source of your power on the days when you feel weak and useless to Him. Remember: we don’t need more willpower—we need God’s power!