Tuesday 6th February 2024
Spending Lent with the Corinthians
I wonder : have you ever thought about communities in terms of mutual “giftings”? The idea here is two-fold.
To start with, there is the idea that every person has particular gifts and skills. Note the word “every” in this sentence : everyone has gifts and skills, even people we might tend to overlook, or think little of. Some Christians talk in terms of “giftings”, in order to emphasize the idea that our skills and abilities are given to us as gifts from God. Other Christians use the word “charism” to mean much the same thing : a “charism” is a particular skill or aptitude which has been given to us by God through the Holy Spirit.
But the thinking does n’t stop with the thought that our abilities and skills are gifts given to us by God. Why have we received these gifts? We have received them for a purpose : to give glory to God. And how do we do this? By using our gifts for the benefit of others, and by developing them further.
A well-functioning community needs a variety of gifts and skills. This is true as much for secular as for church communities. Human beings tend to give certain skills a higher status than other skills, but all are needed if the community is to flourish.
The Christians who made up the church in Corinth were blessed with a great variety of skills, and Paul recognised this. Each member of the congregation had been given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7). Each church member was to use their particular gift for the mutual benefit of all.
As I write these words, two questions come to my mind. I wonder : what are the particular gift or gifts which God has given to us? It’s not always easy to recognise our own gifts, and sometimes it can be good to ask others for their views on this. And once we have thought about our own particular gifts, it is good to ask ourselves a further question : how are we using these gifts for the benefit of others?