1 Corinthians 7:7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
I read the English first and chose this verse, but then I read the Japanese and was surprised at the choice of characters at the very end. The pronunciation would be exactly the same, but where I expected it to say, “Each has his own way to live,” it says, “Each has his own way to go/act.” I’m thinking it might even have been a typo! That, however, is beside the point of what Paul wrote. The first thing he says in this verse is something we are all prone to say, or at least feel. We want everyone to be like us! God wants unity, but He absolutely loves diversity, and we need to get used to it. In this particular instance, if everyone had the gift of celibacy the human race would die out very quickly! That said, the current use of “diversity” has been very perverted from God’s intention. Differences aren’t to be an excuse for debauchery! In the previous chapter Paul goes to some length to tear down the “it’s only natural” argument and honor the sanctity of marriage, and he wasn’t even dealing with some of the absurdities that we encounter today. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20) The point of different gifting is something Paul gets into far more detail with in chapter 12, and there too he makes the point that no one is ungifted. We tend to say that someone is “very gifted,” when what we mean is a particular gift in that person is outstanding. There is one “politically correct” phrase that I think has a lot of validity, and that is, “differently gifted.” We tend to rank people on the basis of whether their gifts are useful to us, and that is a sad mistake indeed. God doesn’t make mistakes, but we often enough completely misconstrue what He has done and twist things around horribly. Each of us needs to be at peace with how we were created and not decide that God made a mistake. Some people are deceived by how the devil has tricked them and insist they were “born this way,” when that isn’t the case at all.
Many years ago I wrote a brief bit of verse that is fundamentally true:
Satan is a liar;
that I know full well,
and every word he speaks to me
comes from the pit of hell.
The problem for the vast majority of people is that they don’t recognize when it is the devil speaking to them. That’s why the devil on one hand strives to be worshiped, but on the other hand seeks to have people dismiss him as a superstition. After all, a superstition isn’t going to be giving you suggestions! We need to be so full of the Word of God that every false word is immediately recognizable. Bankers don’t study counterfeit bills, they study the real thing so as to be able to recognize the counterfeits and reject them. I am in no way to insist that everyone be like me, but at the same time I am not to wallow in the “anything goes” of the world and the devil. As a pastor, I am to help people recognize how they are gifted and discern how they may serve God with those gifts, for their blessing and God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. The whole matter of spiritual gifts came up just last night. Help me locate the testing material my friend needs and get it to him in time for his teaching session. Help us all keep growing in recognizing and developing our own gifts and those of others, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!