The Incredible Simplicity of our Service
Written by Leland Ping on Apr 04, 2016
In Paul’s first recorded letter to the Corinthians, the apostle spent a significant amount of time discussing the “spiritual gifts” of some of the first century’s Christians. Much of that discussion was an attempt by Paul to dissuade the Corinthians from thinking too much of themselves by honoring certain gifts more than others. In I Corinthians 14:18-19, he wrote, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
The examination of these two simple verses should help the many of us who view men like Paul as virtual “super saints.” Even though we know he did wrong, we have trouble seeing ourselves ever being as spiritually mature as him. It should be incredibly encouraging to each of us, however, as we consider our own attempts to faithfully serve our Creator to read these words of Paul. The apostle was talking to a group of New Testament Christians who had forgotten their priorities. Humble service to God matters the most. The Corinthians, however, seemed to really pride themselves on being “seen” as “true” and dedicated Christians. This pseudo-competition for the attention of other men led to a series of divisions within the Corinthian church which became the subject of much of Paul’s words to them (I Corinthians 1:10-15; 3:3-4). In consideration of what Paul wrote in chapter 14, it seems very clear that what God cares about isn’t what humans stress. That’s great news for us!
21st century Christians are similar to 1st century Christian in many ways. Simply stated, we all have different abilities. The ability to impress others with ten thousand words of incredible eloquence is far inferior to but five words of the truth sincerely spoken. The applications for us are many but one which is quite clear is that we should each look at the individual abilities we have and appreciate them and use them. Service to God is challenging because doing what’s right isn’t always “fun.” Service to God, however, doesn’t require superior education or abilities but rather the “few words” that we’re willing to speak, the simple actions we’re willing to take, and the sincere dedication that we have to Christ’s cause. Knowing this, it’s up to each of us to strive each day to please our God and serve Him as He deserves.