Differing Gifts: United in Service

Have you ever considered how different from each other the disciples were? Their backgrounds, personalities, temperaments, and gifts greatly varied. But this was not a liability for the church. It was a strength. Matthew, a tax collector, was precise, exact, and accurate. In contrast, Peter often spoke quickly, and was enthusiastic and impulsive, but he also had natural leadership qualities. John was tender-hearted but outspoken, as well. Andrew was a people person, extremely aware of his surroundings, and sensitive to others. Thomas had the natural inclination to question, and he often doubted. Each of these disciples, though having different personalities and gifts, was powerfully used by God in witnessing for Him.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, 18–22. What do we discover in these passages about the need for people of different gifts in the body of Christ, the church?

God delights in taking people of different backgrounds with different talents and abilities and imparting to them gifts for service. The body of Christ is not a homogenous group of people that are all alike. It is not a country club with people of the same backgrounds who all think the same. It is a dynamic movement of people of different gifts, united in their love for Christ and for Scripture, and who are committed to share His love and truth with the world (Rom. 12:4, 1 Cor. 12:12). The members of the body of Christ have different gifts, but each one is valuable; each one is critical to the healthy functioning of the body of Christ. Just as the eyes, ears, and nose have different functions but are necessary to the body, all gifts are necessary, as well (1 Cor. 12:21, 22).

If you carefully consider the human body, even the smallest parts have a crucial role. Consider our eyelashes. What if we did not have something as apparently insignificant as eyelashes? Dust particles would blur our vision, and the resulting consequences could potentially cause irreparable damage. The member of the church who seems the most “insignificant” is an essential part of the body of Christ and has been gifted by the Holy Spirit. When we dedicate these gifts totally to God, each one of us can make an eternal difference.

No matter how talented you might be, what are the things that you are not very good at but that others in the church are? How should this help keep you in your proper place?

Additional Reading: Selected Quotes from Ellen G. White

“Union is strength, and the Lord desires that this truth should be ever revealed in all the members of the body of Christ. All are to be united in love, in meekness, in lowliness of mind. Organized into a society of believers for the purpose of combining and diffusing their influence, they are to work as Christ worked. They are ever to show courtesy and respect for one another. Every talent has its place and is to be kept under the control of the Holy Spirit. {3SM 15.2}

… The church is a Christian society formed for the members composing it, that each member may enjoy the assistance of all the graces and talents of the other members, and the working of God upon them, according to their several gifts and abilities. The church is united in the holy bonds of fellowship in order that each member may be benefited by the influence of the other. All are to bind themselves to the covenant of love and harmony. The Christian principles and graces of the whole society of believers are to gather strength and force in harmonious action. Each believer is to be benefited and improved by the refining and transforming influence of the varied capabilities of the other members, that the things lacking in one may be more abundantly displayed in another. All the members are to draw together, that the church may become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. {3SM 15.3}”

“It is by the Lord’s orders that His servants have varied gifts. It is by His appointment that men of varied minds are brought into the church, to be laborers together with Him. We have many different minds to meet, and different gifts are needed. God’s servants are to work in perfect harmony. I thank the Lord that we are not all exactly the same, while we are all to have the same spirit—the spirit that dwelt in Christ. The apostle John was not the same as the apostle Peter. Each was to subdue his peculiarities and soften his temperament, that they might help each other, through belief in and sanctification of the truth. {TDG 262.3}

We must learn to bear with the peculiarities of those around us. If our will is under the control of Christ’s will, how can we be at variance with our brethren? If we are at variance, we may know that it is because self needs to be crucified. He whom Christ makes free is free indeed. We are not complete in Christ unless we love one another as Christ has loved us. {TDG 262.5}”

“As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole. {4T 16.1}

We should all feel our individual responsibility as members of the visible church and workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We should not wait for our brethren, who are as frail as ourselves, to help us along; for our precious Saviour has invited us to join ourselves to Him and unite our weakness with His strength, our ignorance with His wisdom, our unworthiness with His merit. {4T 16.4}”

Content © 2020 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. All rights reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, re-produced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. The division offices of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists® are authorized to arrange for translation of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, under specific guidelines. Copyright of such translations and their publication shall remain with the General Conference.


Unlimited Possibilities


Differing Gifts: United in Service


God: The Giver of All Good Gifts


The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts


Discovering Your Gifts


Growing Our Gifts


Further Thought