Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 17
1 Corinthians chapter 12. The King of all kings given to us as a spiritual birthday gift. Each received a very generous spiritual gift. Most of us have more than one gifts from the King of all kings. There are some who have never unwrapped their gift. There are some who still have these gifts in a box, on a shelf somewhere, but the Scripture tells us that each believer has received at least one gift, at least one. You were lavished and blessed by the gift of the King of all kings.
Lemme tell you that through the years of my ministry I have learned that the reason many believers don't unwrap their gift, and there are two in number, two reasons, that I've learned through the years. As many of you know, I've traveled the globe, so I saw the church in every facet in every one of the six continents. But the two reasons why people don't unwrap and use their gift, first there are some who feel that their gift is not really important in the scheme of things.
It is not an important gift, and they look at others, say, "Oh, that's an important gift, but mine is really not important. The use of the gift," or gifts, "not gonna make any difference. It's not really gonna make a huge difference," so they kinda sit on their blessed assurance. They think that their gift is not worthwhile at all, so they never use it. In fact, the Apostle Paul deals with this kind of thinking in verses 15, 16, and 17.
The second reason for why people don't use their gift is that some believers feel that they are overqualified for their gift. They really do. I mean, I have watched of how some just want the gifts of others. They're dissatisfied with the gift that God gave them. They're not contented with the royal gift that the King of all kings gave them, so they ignore it. And they become depressed in life, and they don't know why, and Paul deals with that in verse 21. I want you to hear me out. This is important. God's Word rejects both of these excuses. Can I get an amen?
It rejects. The Bible teaches that neither the alleged inferior gifts nor pride is pleasing to the Lord. None of them are pleasing to the Lord. I have discovered that the following fable really applies to a lot of churches. The different members of the body, the different organs of the body, got together in order to decide which organ or which member of the body is the most important, and so the brain said, "Huh. Since I already coordinate every function in the body, I am the logical choice to be the most important organ in the body". But the heart really strongly objected, and the heart said, "Without me pumping blood through the body, none of you would be able to function. Therefore, I am the most important member of the body".
At that moment, the eyes go a little bit uppity. "No way. Without us, the body cannot see where it's going. We are the most important members of the body". Well, the mouth, of course, would not be outdone. I think the gift of mouth is for the preachers, but anyway, 'cause the mouth gets into gear, and it says, "I speak for the body. Therefore, I am the most important member of the body". And that way one member after another began to declare why that member is the most important. Finally, the neck spoke up, and the neck said, "You're all wrong. I am the most important member". Oh, of course, this infuriated the brain and the heart and the eyes and the mouth, and the brain said to the neck, "You, you don't do anything important". The heart said, "If you weren't there, we wouldn't even miss you".
All of that attack, of course, caused the neck to get mad and furious and tensed up. Its muscles knotted up, and it began to exert the most excruciating pain for the whole body. So intense was the pain that the brain could not think, and the eyes got blurry and watered and could not see, and the heart began to work overtime, so hard, that it was skipping a beat every now and then. So after a week of this, all of the members of the body got together again, and they all agreed that the neck is the most important part of the body. So, what is the lesson of this fable? You don't have to be the heart, you don't have to be the brain, and you don't have to be the lungs. All you need to be to be important is a pain in the neck.
Now, let's look at what the Apostle Paul is saying here in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians. He said to defeat ignorance, you have to have discernment. Verses 1 to 3. Secondly, he's saying discovering and using your spiritual gift is a must. Verses 4 to 19. And thirdly, he's saying for a body to be healthy, for a body to be whole, every member of the body must stick to this, to their gift, to his or her gift. Now, let's look at these very quickly. Satan knows the importance of spiritual gifts. He really understands it better than most Christians of how important the use of these spiritual gifts in the church are. He really does. He comprehends that.
So, what does he do in order to weaken the church? He produces counterfeit gifts. He produces look-alike gifts. He produces false gifts. And the Corinthian church, like some churches of today, they were seriously affected by the counterfeit gifts. You say, "How can you tell the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the counterfeit gifts"? Great question. I'm glad you asked it. Two words: the fruit. It's the fruit. The way to distinguish between the counterfeit gifts and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whether a person is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit or not. That's the way to do it, is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, because the counterfeit gifts produces division and murmur and a critical spirit and refusal to submit to spiritual authority.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit build up the body of Christ, while the counterfeit gift destroys the body of Christ. The gifts of the Holy Spirit produces harmony and unity and speaking the truth in love to one another. The counterfeit gifts exhibit selfishness and self-promotion in the city of Corinth, where paganism was rampant, and therefore there were soothsayers. There were divinations and mystery religions, and these had all kinds of magical power to prove their claims, and within a very short period of time when the church was established in the city of Corinth, Satan showed up. Satan showed up, and he began to muddy the spiritual water, as he always does, regarding biblical teaching in the church of Corinth.
Here's a fact: whenever God is doing work, whenever God start doing work, Satan is always at the heels with counterfeit activities. Some of you might think that Satan and his demons, they spend their time, invest their time and energy with the gangsters and the drug dealers, and they think that this is really where Satan is. Please, please, please think again. They are not gonna waste their time on those who already belong to them. Why would they do this? No, listen to me. Satan and his demons spend most of their time among Christians. They really do, particularly churches that believes in the Word of God, and he work slowly but surely through non-discerning Christians to undermine their confidence in the Word of God.
He works slowly but surely to bring doubt as to the uniqueness and the authority of the Word of God, to bring doubt concerning the teaching of the Scripture. From the very beginning, Satan's most famous words were, "Did God really say? Did God really say"? And, you see, once he brings that doubt, once he bring this doubt slowly but surely, all of a sudden the church finds itself a church, in full retreat from biblical authority. The Bible says the antichrist will be performing miracles. Did you know that? He will be performing miracles.
And think about this. Think about this with me. Think about Christians that you know who so easily get swept off their feet by something spectacular. Think about non-discerning Christians that you know who would be taken in line, hook, and sinker, when they see something spectacular. Hear me out, please. Satan understands how valuable the spiritual gifts are, and that is why if he can get God's people confused and undiscerning, to get him to end up corrupting the whole church. And that is why Paul said in verse 1, "Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant".
How can you combat ignorance? By discernment. I'm gonna say some more. The second thing he says, verses 4 to 19, discovering and using your spiritual gift is a must. You're not doing anybody a favor. That is the natural response in gratitude for receiving that gift. Listen carefully. The quarrels, the factionalism, the divisions, the compromising of biblical truth, the immorality, the abuse of Christian liberty, all of these things were happening in Corinth and the Corinthian church because they were not discerning Christians. It is not surprising, therefore, that all of this had led them to be unhappy.
They were unhappy with their spiritual gifts. They were discontented with it. They were envious, and they're wanting somebody else's gifts. And they were pouting, looking down at their gifts that God gave them, and sit and say, "I'm not gonna get to do this. I'm not gonna do this". All of these things are sign of carnality, and that is why Paul's analogy of the physical body is vitally important. This was not just an off-the-cuff thing. This is something very significant, very important in analyzing the body, the human body, and relating it to the body of Christ, because in Corinth the person who was an ear wanted to be an eye. And the eye wanted to be a hand, and the one who's a foot was placing it deeply into his mouth.
This kind of attitude is affront to the wisdom of God and the love of God. Why? Because what they are saying is this: "I don't like the gift that the Holy Spirit gave me. I don't like where the Holy Spirit has placed me. Unless I become a hand, I will not perform my function in the body". Beloved, this is affront to God. Has nothing to do with even the structure of the church. It's an affront to God himself. Every time you meet a critical, cantankerous Christians, you can be sure that he or she is not using their spiritual gift. Mark my word, because this is not only affront to God, but it causes the body of Christ to languish, which bring me to the third point that he makes. You defeat ignorance by discerning, use your spiritual gift is a must, and he says any healthy body has to have all the members of the body, all the organs in the body, functioning.
Now, I think many of you have heard what I have heard through the years. They call it the 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle is that 20% of the people do all the serving, do all the ministry, do all the giving, do all the sacrificing, while 80% are just receiving. Any church that does not have all the members using their spiritual gifts like it's in the human body, the eye is there, but it's not functioning. You only function with one eye. Or the ears. Both of them are there, but one is not functioning. One is. Or the foot. One is functioning, the other one is not. Or the hands. One is functioning, one is not. Or as in the nose, if you get a blocked nose.
See, these organs may be there, they may not be missing, but they're not functioning. Just think about this in terms of the human body. See, the philosophy that says, "I am sufficient, and I need nobody else," that is Satan's philosophy. Think about even this morning worship, when you came in today for us to have a fresh encounter with the living God as the body of Christ. Think about those who have been working hard during the week, those who work behind the scenes, those who work on the front, behind the scenes. Some people, you cannot see. Without the faithfulness of those who work and pray and give, this time of encounter with the living God would not be possible, would not be what it is. None of us can fulfill our own ministry without a mutual dependence on each other, but there's more.
There's more. The Word of God saying to us that some of the hidden members like your heart and your liver and your lungs, they're hidden from view. Nobody can see them, but they are the most vital organs of your body. The people that you do not see up front... listen to me. The people that you do not see up front are the most vital members of the body of Christ. Can I get an amen? There are times in my life... and look, I have nothing to hide, but there are times in my life when I'm discouraged. There are times in my life when I am really doing some real spiritual warfare, and the Holy Spirit says, "Remember this: you've been prayed for".
My goodness, I can't tell you what that does. It's a transformation that takes place in my life, just knowing that somebody is praying for you. Listen to me. If you're a prayer warrior, you might never see, until you get to heaven, what God has used you to do as you exercise your gift of intercession and prayer, how many miracles, how many blessings, how many empowerments and helps that has taken place simply because you have exercised your quiet gift, just like the heart is pumping blood and you can't see it. You might never be visible, but you're a vital part of the body of Christ, like a liver or the lungs to the human body.
There are some faithful, quiet, sacrificial givers whom nobody will ever hear about, including me, but without whom this global ministry would not be taking place. They may not be visible all, but I believe with all my heart, and I have Jesus's Word to affirm this. In heaven, they're gonna see thousands of people are gonna come to them, and they're gonna thank them, and they'll say, "Because of your sacrificial giving, because of what you have done, I am now in heaven".
I'm convinced that without these quiet, behind-the-scenes ministries the body could not function and the body could not bear fruit. The body couldn't even exist, possibly, without you exercising your spiritual gifts as a culture. And we bemoan what happen to us, but thank God there are 7,000 knees that have not bowed down to Baal, despite of the disastrous things we see in the culture at large. I can't imagine without the faithful people who are praying and giving and sacrificing and exercising their gift where we'd be as a culture. We'd be in a far worse situation than we are now. You've heard me say this, and I'm gonna keep saying it until I experience it personally when I go home to glory.
Some of us who are visible, not visible just in the local church but even have other visibilities, with all my heart I believe that those of us who are visible and have visible gifts are gonna be way, way, way in the back in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And there'll be nameless, faceless people sitting right next to our Lord Jesus. Beloved, listen to me. It is faithfulness, not visibility, that the Lord is looking for. Let me repeat this. It is faithfulness, not visibility, that the Lord is gonna reward.
Let me share with you some facts that I've read many years ago, and I'm fond of telling because they make a point, as I say this as I conclude. I am told that in the United States there are 768 ships that comprise what referred to normally as the Mothball Navy. Now, these vessels apparently anchored in various harbors around the country, and they receive regular maintenance. The externals of these ships are painted and repainted regularly. The hulls are continuously being bombarded by electronic impulses to retard the process of rust and corrosion. There are giant humidifiers that constantly running to keep the moisture content of the air there in those inner compartments to a proper level. Now, mind you, while these ships can be readied for combat in a short period of time, but at the present time they're just sitting there doing absolutely nothing.
I remember the first time when I read this. I was absolutely mesmerized of how many of God's people could be described as a mothball Christians. I pray to God not one person at the sound of my voice comes under this category. They're being held together through the ministry of concerned believers and friends. They do not attend church and when they don't that somebody will check on them. When they're discouraged they need somebody to pray for them. They'll pray for them and minister to them, but they themselves never use their spiritual gifts, never minister. Like the Mothball Navy, they are snuggly harbor in the church, receiving spiritual help but never ministering, serving, or doing. Beloved, if this describe you, listen to me. I implore you, I implore you before God that you make a decision to change today.