The human body is a miraculous instrument, particularly when all the parts work in harmony. Yet when one part fails to perform, the entire body is affected. As a child, I had a knack for stumping my big toe. I can still remember the pain that shot through my body like a jolt of high-voltage electricity when I drove my toe into a raised section of the sidewalk. Yet my macho persona would cause me to choke back my tears and continue on my way. “After all, it’s only one toe!” After a short time of my awkward gait, I would begin to notice that my hip was throbbing with pain. Then the pain began to crawl up my spine, and soon my whole body hurt. All because of one big toe!

Paul uses the inner working of the human body to illustrate the need for variety and unity, which together provide for mutual care. For churches to work effectively to advance the kingdom, all the body parts must work in harmony and demonstrate respect and care for one another. The picture of the body will help us understand not only the correctives needed in Corinth but also those needed in our churches today. Some analysts indicate that nearly 80 percent of all churches in America are plateaued or are declining. Could it be that internal dissension and the failure of many body members to function could be at the heart of our problem?

You will also notice that in this section containing the imagery of the body, Paul moves his argument for an expanded definition of gifts a step further. He establishes five critical points through this extended metaphor of the body. (1) There is one body, (2) with diversely functioning members, (3) sovereignly designed, (4) with no useless appendages, (5) enabling it to advance the kingdom and provide mutual care to all members.

Ken Hemphill, You Are Gifted (Nashville, TN: B&H Educational, 2009).

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