Meditations on 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 3rd June 2020.

What are you good at? What secret talents do you harbour? Do you think you have any gifts? Do you instead look at other people and compare yourself to them? Do you see the gifts and talents in others, but struggle to see your own? Thanks to social media, we live in a world where everyone puts their best on display. It’s easy to think that everyone around us lives on a different level of life.

Yet that’s hardly close to the truth, is it? For the Christian, we first remember that we’re all made in the image of God. Yes, we’re all unique and reflect the image of God in a special way. So, how should we understand the gifts and talents God gives us then? Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)

Differences and Similarities

There are differences, but there are similarities. Let’s break that down.

What are the differences? There’s different kinds of gifts. There are different kinds of service or ministry. There are different kinds of working or process. This shouldn’t be new to us. Of course, each person has different gifts. Each person has a different kind of ministry or service. Each person operates or works in a different way. That’s how God made us, a unique reflection of his image.

On the flip side, what are the similarities? The same Spirit distributes the gifts. We serve the same Lord. The same God works through our methods and processes. So, how should that shape our understanding or view of ourselves and others?

The Giver of Gifts

I love this quote from Chrysostom, a significant Christian pastor in the 4th century.

Even if the gift bestowed on you is less than the gift bestowed on someone else, the Giver is the same, and therefore you have equal honour with him. It is the same fountain from which you draw refreshment.

Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 29.4

Do you get what he’s saying? It’s not about the gift—what it is, how great it is—it’s about the Giver.

Maybe you think the preacher got the good stuff? Or you envy the gifts of a brother or sister-in-Christ? “I wish I was able to do that.” Or you feel like your gift is insignificant?

I love the way Chrysostom puts it, “the Giver is the same, and therefore you have equal honour.” The point is this—the same Spirit gives the gifts. Those gifts are serve the same Lord. And the same God works through them. Because of that you have equal honour with the person next to you.

Equal Honour

You have equal honour with the preacher. You have equal honour with the leaders within your church. You have equal honour with your brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Because your gifts come from the same place. Your gifts serve the same Lord. The same God empowers your gifts to fulfil his purposes.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop doubting the gifts and talents God gave you. Because God, in his grace, gave you gifts and talents through his Spirit. And he didn’t give them to you to compare yourself to others. No, he gave them to you to serve Jesus. Furthermore, it’s not up to your own ability or strength. God himself is at work through your gifts, your ministry, and even your methods. The results depend on God, not on you.

You’re free from this world of comparison, because it’s not about what you can do. Instead, it’s about what God can do through you. You’re free from shame. You’re free from pursuing some notion of status in faith or ministry, because we all serve the same Lord Jesus.

Yes, there are differences between each one of us. But together, we can use whatever gifts and talents he gives us to serve the Lord Jesus through the awesome power of God himself. And, at the end of the day, you get equal honour with each one of your brothers and sisters. No one else gets more or less for serving Jesus, we all get the crown of life.


Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gifts and talents you have given each one of us. Lord Jesus, may we serve you faithfully with these gifts. Through our ministry and service, may you be glorified as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Thank you Holy Spirit for the gifts you give us. Help us to recognise and see your good gifts. Continue to enable us by the power of God to serve Jesus to see your kingdom come, here on earth as it is in heaven.

Father God, help us to keep our eyes on you, rather than comparing ourselves to others. Lord Jesus, may we keep our eyes on you, serving you, not others or even ourselves. Holy Spirit, gently rebuke us for the times we abuse or neglect the gifts you give us. Instead, help us to be people who encourage and support others to discover and use their God-given gifts for your purposes.

For all this we thank you and pray in Jesus’ name, amen.