1 Corinthians 12.4-12, 28 – The need for the divine gift of humility
Posted: 6 August 2012 in 1 Corinthians

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ….. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul makes it clear that there are various vocations to be found in the life of the Church, but in verse 28 he also makes it clear that not all of those vocations are of equal importance, or have the same status. Should it happen that we find ourselves called to occupy a position somewhere close to the bottom of the hierarchy, that will obviously pose a challenge to our egos. And yet obedience to the call of God would require that we submit to his will. God is not an equal opportunities employer, and embracing the role he assigns to us may be an exercise in humility. We must be content to be invisible to the world, and to the Church as well, if that is what God wills for us. But that humility cannot come from within ourselves, because within ourselves there there is nothing to be found but a rebellious spirit. Without a divinely bestowed gift of humility, our innate egoism would soon start making itself felt.

People with the most prominent roles in the Church and society are also the people who need to be most heavily gifted with humility. To the extent that that is not what happens in practice, and it seems not to happen quite a bit, to that extent it is probably safe to conclude that God’s will is not being done, and that they are occupying a position to which they have no divine calling.

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