Don’t Rob Us of You

I have a friend who likes to remind me that "there is no spleen in the kingdom of God."

Let me explain with a brief anatomy lesson. The spleen is a tiny organ just to the left of your stomach. I doubt you've spent much time pondering this four-inch wonder. It's an important part of your immune system, but unlike your heart or your brain, it's an organ you can live without. Should you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a splenectomy, through the marvels of modern medicine you'll probably be a-okay.

No, you haven't clicked on WebMD by mistake, but the spleen hammers home a vital truth from God's Word. Check out 1 Corinthians 12:12–14. This may be a familiar passage to you, but don't race through it. Read it slowly, repeatedly.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Have you ever heard the Church described as the Body of Christ? That phrase can be traced back to this passage. Paul is using the human body as an object lesson for how Christians depend on each other.

Would you rather have four feet instead of two feet and two hands (v. 15)? Can you picture yourself with four eyes and no ears (v. 16)? Would you love what you saw in the mirror if your reflection was just one giant eyeball (v. 17)?

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? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (vv. 17–20).

Paul's point is that there is no spleen in the kingdom of God. There isn't a single one of us who is disposable or unnecessary. For the Body (a.k.a the Church) to function properly, we all have a role to play.

A Call to Come off the Bench

I am convinced that if we really believed this passage, we'd be transformed in two ways.

First, we would all be called off the bench. There's no spleen in the kingdom of God, and there's no bench warming either. No Christian gets to sit on the sidelines. Ministry is not a spectator sport. God has given each of us unique gifts. If we really believed we had a vital role to play, we'd get busy using them.

There's no spleen in the kingdom of God, and there's no bench warming either.

It doesn't matter what those gifts are, if they get heart eyes on Instagram, if others stand up and cheer when you serve (or if they are even aware you're doing it). You are an essential member of the Church. We need you to do what God has uniquely gifted you to do.

Surgically Removing Spiritual Envy

The second thing that happens when we really believe 1 Corinthians 12 is that we pick up our pom poms and start cheering for others.

Has this ever happened to you?

  • A friend gets to go on a mission trip to a foreign country. Instead of being happy for her, you feel mostly . . . jealous. Every time she talks about her coming trip, you resist the urge to roll your eyes.
  • God clearly intervenes in someone's life while you continue to have needs unmet in your own. You struggle to understand why God answers her prayers and not yours.
  • There's a girl in your youth group who is a talented musician. When she leads worship, the energy in the room changes but it's hard for you to concentrate because you're so busy wishing you could swap places with her.
  • You scroll through your Instagram feed and see people doing B-I-G things for the kingdom of God. Your life feels so small and boring. Seeing other people's accomplishments just makes you feel bad about your own.

You know these are good things—kingdom-building things—and yet somewhere deep down you feel something other than excitement, joy, and the need to celebrate. You feel something a lot like envy.

We need you to unwrap the gifts God has given you instead of eying the gifts He's given her.

Paul's words in this passage encourage us to flip the switch because the Church doesn't need another her; the Church needs you. We need you to embrace what makes you distinctly you instead of wasting valuable energy trying to be like someone else. We need you to unwrap the gifts God has given you instead of eying the gifts He's given her.

In my house we say it this way: "When the tide comes in, all the boats in the harbor rise."

In other words, a victory for any of us is a victory for all of us. When any of us use our gifts and talents to serve Christ and His Church, we all win. When any of us fail to recognize and use our gifts, we all miss out.

Don't Rob Us of You

Get in the game and serve for God's glory!

While it's possible to live without your spleen, it isn't what's best. No body part is truly disposable. You're not disposable either. In order for the Church to function at it's best, we need you to do what only you can do. Don't rob us of you by sitting on the bench or wishing you had different gifts. Get in the game and serve for God's glory!

Do you know your spiritual gifts? Are you using them to benefit your church and the Church around the globe? Do you struggle to see your gifts as essential or to see others' gifts as a threat?

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.