The Common Good

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7, ESV)

The Corinthian Christians were proud of themselves and boasted in their spiritual maturity. They felt that they had already attained perfection. This pride and arrogance left them blind to their faults which included an elitist attitude, a lack of love, and serious theological misconceptions. Paul let them know that part of their problem was an overzealous concern for the gifts of the spirit notably prophecy and speaking in tongues. To the Corinthians these two gifts in particular were the signs that they were spirit-filled and above earthly concerns and problems. They maintained that all spiritually superior believers had to manifest such gifts (much as many contemporary Charismatic groups do today). Naturally this attitude led to factions, divisions and disagreements.
Their treatment of these gifts was no different from their previous behavior as pagans, before they came to the Lord, since such ecstatic utterances were part of some pagan rituals and cults (and still are). Yet as Christians they felt that the manifestation of these gifts of powerful utterance were true evidence of God’s presence with them. Paul points out that these gifts were given by God for mutual edification and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, not the self. All the gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as He wills and they are not meant for personal glorification. Thus each believer needs every other one in the church so that as the church they may properly function as God’s Kingdom on earth. This requires different gifts and talents. Diversity of gifts is the indication of the Spirit’s presence.  Pride and self-centeredness are not.

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