Sometimes it’s pretty easy to see what a particular text of Scripture is all about. All you have to do is watch for the repeating words. Did you see how many times the words ‘many’ and ‘one’ appear in today’s reading? Did you catch the references to those ideas even when the words weren’t explicit?
Remember that the spiritual condition of Corinth was one of saturation, inundation, idols and superstitions and philosophies dripping off everything. Paul refers to the plurality of idols when he begins this discussion of spiritual gifts. He wants to re-focus their understanding from the many to the one. “I know there are many idols in this culture, many you once worshipped. And I know there are many spiritual manifestations now among the followers of Christ. But don’t let the many gifts make you think that they have many sources. There are many gifts, but only one Spirit.”
Since they have one source, there is only One who dictates their nature. They are powered by God for service to God according to the plan of God. [vss. 4-6] That’s the first thing Paul doesn’t want them ignorant of. The gifts are about the one Giver and the one Giver’s goals.
The second thing Paul wants them aware of is the appropriate approach to the ‘many.’ Pride in the spiritual gifts can cause us to focus on ourselves; what I possess; what I can do. That’s the wrong ‘one.’ The one to focus on is God, the Giver. In humility, I understand that my giftedness is from the One for the good of the ‘many.’ The right ‘many’ to focus on is the other members of my church. It is God’s design to have a diverse Body working in unity under one Head, Jesus Christ. “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.” The Spirit gives gifts “to each one, just as He determines.”
See the inclusion of the words ‘each’ and ‘every?’ How important is it that we recognize that each and every person in our church is gifted and joined to the church by the divine design of the Master? How important is it that I use my gift as a God-attached member of my local body to serve the Lord and advance the good of the whole group? How important is it that I not judge the other members or vaunt myself above others based on my limited ability to assess gifts? How important is it that I get it right in regard to the ‘many’ and the ‘one?’
Pray: Lord God, Giver of gifts and Head of the Body, thank you for our spiritual gifts. Thank you for showing yourself through us in this way. Help us to glorify only You with our giftedness as we bless each other and do good to one another. Empower our wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, languages, and interpretation. But most of all, empower our humility.