The Model for Ministry

January 4, 2021

1 Corinthians 14

“And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12 (NLT)

Big Idea: The cross is our model for ministry. 

Today’s chapter is so often used as a weapon in debate about spiritual gifts that we can miss its very practical implications. Ironically, we miss the point when Paul is rebuking them for missing the point. What are spiritual gifts all about? In an extension of the theme of chapter 13, the gifts of the Spirit are not designed to be used for self-promotion or pride, but service. Any real gift of God is designed to build up the church!  

This is not just true of things like prophecy, speaking in tongues, or supernatural knowledge. It is the model for all of our service. The question is not what roles will bring us attention or apparent success, but how we can best build up the body as a whole. We do not exist for ourselves, but for one another. Of course, this should not be surprising to us as Christians. Our Lord and Master had glory and power beyond our comprehension, yet He did not seek to serve Himself, but to build people up.

How different this is from our normal modus operandi. We see others as tools. We make or discard relationships based on their functionality. Our whole understanding of gifts is hardwired with selfishness. But God has a better plan. The sacrifice of Jesus shows us how a life should be used: it should be spent. Our whole lives are a ministry, they ought to be like Christ’s.

Discussion Idea: What is a gift God has given you which you can use to build up others?

Prayer Focus: Praise God for letting us be a part of His work.