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Each One Has His Own Gift

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he gives some advice to married couples. Paul himself was unmarried, at least at the time of the writing of the letter (there is some question or debate about whether Paul might have been a widower). His advice was related to marital faithfulness to prevent temptation from overcoming either the husband or wife.

Then he makes an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 7:7. He says “For I wish that all men were even as myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.”

What I find fascinating in this statement is that it illustrates a tension that probably exists in each one of us to some degree. The tension I am referring to is that of wanting others to be like us and think like us, but at the same time, acknowledging that God’s gifts are unique to each person.

Paul said “I wish that all men were even as myself.”

I think there is a part of us all that thinks this way. I want you to by like me in terms of beliefs, practice, priorities, choices, preferences, interests, and so on. We think to ourselves, “would’t the world be a better place, if everyone just saw things from my point of view!” We would vote for the same people, go to the same schools, read the same books, raise our children the same way, use our money on the same things, worship at the same church, love the same songs, and eat at the same restaurants.

But we aren’t like that. And that causes problems for us as sinners. Don’t all of our frustrations, conflicts and troubles seem to boil down to this: you are different than me?

We live in a world where different people live out different expressions of the truth they have come to believe and embrace. Isn’t it amazing how even among Christians who are very much aligned on so many of the basics of doctrine and practice, and who go to the very same church, nevertheless, behave very differently from one another.

But Paul seems to resolve the tension with an acknowledgement of the fact that “each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.”

Yes, the context in 1 Corinthians 7 is related to marital relations, temptation, and sexual purity. But there seems to be a principle that Paul is presenting. The principle is that God has uniquely gifted us in the body of Christ. We must not insist that everyone have my gift and use it in my way.

There are so many applications of this. One person loves to read, and therefore gets frustrated with other Christians who are not as inclined in that way. I have even heard pastor’s scolding people from the pulpit for not owning or reading a specific Christian book. Or what about evangelism? Here is another area that we often quickly discover that some Christians want everyone to do it their way. There seems to be no room in their thinking that “each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” Or, closer to the context of the text, what about those in the church who are single and are happy to remain that way?

There needs to be room in our expression and understanding of God’s Word to acknowledge that “each one has his own gift from God.”

This is not to suggest that truth is unimportant, or that all differences are merely a matter of gifting by God or personal taste. Doctrine does matter. The truth certainly matters. But how gospel truths are lived out within the boundaries of God’s gifting and God’s commands, we must acknowledge that in this life there will always be differences, “one in this manner, another in that.”

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