Years ago, I thought it would be fun to give my sister a puzzle made from her high school graduation picture. To add to the fun, I gave the pieces to a group of friends. Over the course of the evening they were to give her the pieces with no explanation. At the end of the evening my sister should have been able to put the complete puzzle together.
The only problem was one crucial piece never made it to her. While the whole thing was fun, the picture was ruined because the one central piece was missing.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about spiritual gifts. As humans we tend to look at the list of spiritual gifts and rank them in some order. A is better than B. C is more desirable than D. Paul tells us that is not the way God created the gifts, nor the way He looks at them. God has given each believer at least one gift to be used for the benefit of the body of Christ. Whether we realize it or not, the body of Christ suffers when individuals minimize the importance of their gifts.
Each Part Is Equally Important
Paul uses imagery similar to a puzzle when he asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” (1 Cor. 12.17) The whole body functions best when all the parts are present and working the way God designed our bodies to work. Likewise, the body of Christ works best, grows in maturity, and serves each other and the surrounding community most effectively when every person within the body is contributing in the way God has called him or her.
Some people, due to disease or injury, function with missing body parts. Many have learned to compensate for the lack of functionality they experience. They may have prostheses for missing limbs or take a drug to even out a malfunctioning organ. I would hazard a guess that a majority of people would choose a fully functioning body if the choice were actually an option.
Those who minimize their gifts handicap the body of Christ in a similar way to a missing body part. The body may well continue to function. Yet it won’t be with the efficiency it would if all were playing the part God calls them to.
Don’t underestimate the value of your piece of the puzzle you play in God’s greater work. You are a valuable and important part of the body of Christ.