Sorry I’m late in getting out the answers to last week’s Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series. I started a new job this week and it threw my schedule off. But thank the Lord for the employment.
Read 1 Corinthians 12 and answer the following questions:
According to verses 4-6, what three differences should be allowed in the church?
different gifts, different ministries/services, different activities/workings
From verses 7-10 and 28-30, list some of the different gifts and functions which might be distributed throughout the church (Note: There are other lists elsewhere with additional gifts. We will look at those later in the study.):
wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation, apostles, prophets, teachers, helpers, adminstrators
What other kinds of differences are mentioned in verse 13?
- Jew and Greek (for our cultural setting, we could expand that to “different ethnicities”)
- slave and free (for our cultural setting, we could say different social circles, different economic circumstances, etc.)
Who decides which members are bestowed various gifts and where each member “fits” among us? (vv. 11, 18) Holy Spirit, God
What familiar image of the church is used in this chapter? The body of Christ
Romans 12:4, which also speaks of the body of Christ, says the members of the body do not all have the same function.
What different gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-8?
prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation (same Greek word for “encourage”), giving, leading, mercy
Additional thoughts: Notice that verse 8 lists encouraging as a special gift that is given only to some people. Does this mean that only those with the gift of encouragement should strive to be encouragers? To think on this question, consider that serving, giving of finances or material things, and showing mercy are also listed as special gifts. Yet, when Paul is taking up a special offering to help one particular group of Christians (2 Corinthians 8–9), he speaks to the need for all church members to give generously. In 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 he even addresses the fact that some of us might have to overcome our reluctance in this area and not give grudgingly. (In other words, we may not have that gift, so it might not come as easily to us.) We could find similar passages to show that we are all expected to be merciful, to serve, and to encourage one another. So, if we are all supposed to encourage one another, how do you think it might be different for someone who has the gift of encouragement?
In 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul tells Timothy not to neglect the gift that is in him. Even more than that, he tells him to “fan the flame” of his gift. We all should make the development of our gifts an intentional focus of our lives.
These texts may bring up the question of whether or not the gifts are only given by “the laying on of hands” from a minister/church leader. The simple answer to that question is that the New Testament does not show this as a pattern. Paul is simply describing here how it happened with Timothy.
1 Corinthians 8 and 10:23-33 present an issue which some Christians thought was a sin while others did not. What is the disputable issue?
eating meat which had been used in idol worship
What was Paul’s conclusion on the matter in 8:8 and 10:31?
The actual doing or not doing of that thing does not actually bring us any closer to God. What matters is whether our lives bring glory to God.
Can you think of a modern example of a similar issue – something that some Christians think is sinful while others do not, or a rule that some churches have which others do not?
Fill in the blanks below to show things we need to consider when exercising our freedom to choose/disagree in some areas of conduct:
1 Corinthians 8:9 – Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 10:23 – Though we may have the right to do many things, we are warned that “not everything is beneficial or constructive.”
1 Corinthians 10:29 – For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?
Read Romans 14. Besides the issue of what to eat and drink, what other issue does Paul mention (v. 5)? “special days” (in our culture, we could say holidays or various religious observances)
Fill in the blanks from Romans 14 for other rules for handling disputable matters and exercising our freedom:
- v. 3 We must not look down on those who disagree.
- vv. 5,23 We should be fully convinced in our own mind and not do something just because someone else says it’s okay.
- vv. 10-12 We should remember that we are ultimately accountable to God for these decisions.
- v. 15 We must act in love and choose not to do something if it might distress or destroy a brother.
- v. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. In other words, guard your reputation.
- vv. 19,20 Being at peace with each other and not destroying the work of God should be more important than anything we might want to do.
- v. 22 Keep what you believe about these things between yourself and God.
And one more rule from Galatians 5:13: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
For further reading, you might go to Colossians 2:1-3:17 and Galatians 2 and 5.
The last thing on the list of rules from Romans 14:22 was “keep what you believe about these things between yourself and God.” Why do you think this is important?
LISA’S THOUGHTS: In some matters, it is not our job to convince or convict others. It is the job of the Holy Spirit. We are told often in Scripture not to argue about such things. We cannot preach our convictions on these matters as “law” because God has not established them as such.
The rest of Romans 14:22 says, “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” We might condemn ourselves by making wrong choices. Or we might also condemn ourselves by having a wrong attitude (such as selfishness or judgementalism) even though we may be right about the issue in question. Reflect on this and pray the Lord would reveal to you areas of wrong choices or wrong attitudes.
Read Psalm 139:13-14 and Ephesians 2:10. Think on the significance of these passages and thank God for your own uniqueness.
Think also about your fellow Christians and how the differences we see in the body are by God’s design. Give thanks for other members of the body and perhaps repent if you have been unappreciative or intolerant of others who are not like you.
Think about what gift(s) God has given you. List them here. If you are unsure, write down the possibilities. (And perhaps have a discussion with a friend to see what gifts they have seen manifested in your life.)
At this point you may only have an inkling of what your gift(s) may be. Or you may have realized your gift(s) and calling a long time ago, and perhaps even have been effective in using your gift(s) in the past, but are now experiencing a sense of burnout, dwindling enthusiasm, or even discouragement. In any case, read 2 Timothy 1:6, write it down, and meditate on what it might mean for you now.
Go through the suggestions in the devotional and note any that you might want to do.
Is there an area of conduct which you disagree with other Christians on where to draw the line? Have you applied all of the Scriptural guidelines when deciding how you handle those issues? Are there any you may need to apply to either your lifestyle choices or your judgement of those who think differently from you?
What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion?