For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.– Romans 12:4-5
Yesterday we started looking at the idea that “all members have not the same office.” This is one of the basic truths concerning the nature of a local church. Today we will look at Paul’s own commentary on this passage, 1 Corinthians 12.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 1 Corinthians 12:14-15
When the settlers first came to America, in order for the settlement to function properly, everyone had to play their role to the best of their ability. Somebody had to be a blacksmith. Somebody had to be an apothecary. Somebody had to fill the roles of cabinetmaker, brick mason, and farmer. I’m sure there were times when the blacksmith would think to himself, “nobody else works as hard as I do in as difficult conditions as I have to put up with. I have the most difficult job.” I bet there were times when the farmer would think to himself, “nobody else has to wake up as early as I do to tend the garden. Without me, nobody would have food.” The apothecary I’m sure would think, “the whole village would be in a mess without me to provide medicine.” But from our view looking back, it is easy to see that all those roles were vital to the very existence of the village. It is terrible to see church-goers look down on others because of their jobs. I’ve seen people who work with their hands look down on those who have desk jobs, and I’ve seen those with desk jobs look down on those who work with their hands. When it comes to gifts given to us by the Lord, it is even more important to realize that these gifts are given to us by the Will of the Lord. These gifts may be jobs such as the job of a teacher in the church or a preacher. These gifts can also be desires and burdens such as the desire and burden to give to others, to pray for others, and to edify others. It is essential to remember that we all differ in our gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:15 Paul begins an illustration of a body. “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?”
Think about it. Almost no one covers up their hands. We use our hands for all kinds of things. We can write, type, cook, and build with our hands. Our hands are the most skilled part of our physical, outward body. The hands get a lot of glory. The foot on the other “hand” is covered up a lot. The foot doesn’t get to be seen as much. Yes, we managed to learn how to walk and use our feet for support, but still no matter how much experience the foot gets, it still tends to trip us up! What if the foot says one day, “I’m not the hand. I’m not as skilled and useful as the hand. I’m definitely not essential to the body.” Does this attitude imply the foot is no longer part of the body? No! The foot is in fact still a part of the body. The foot allows us to go where we need to go. The foot allows us to support ourselves. It doesn’t get as much glory, but it is still an important part of our bodies. There are those in the church who (in a good way) act as feet. These are our supporters. These are they who behind the scenes clean the church without bringing any attention to themselves. After every church fellowship, these are they who wait to get their food after everyone else gets theirs. These are they who stay late to clean everything up. If there’s any job that needs to be done in the church, you can expect these members to do their part without bringing attention to themselves.
The hands are important too. These members are helpers and edifiers. These are they who go out of their way to help people out. They hear of someone in the church with a financial need, and they will take of their own money to help them out. They hear that someone falls sick in the church, and they will cook a meal for them. They know someone is struggling with a temptation, and they will gently encourage them to be strong. Those ministered to by the hands of the church may notice the hands more than the feet, but the hands humbly work their work according to their given job.
These two roles are important for a fully functional church. There’s no need to look down on or covet other roles. God in his amazing wisdom has fitted these jobs to specific people as He wills.