Three False Notions about Spiritual Gifts - The Warrior's Journey®

Three False Notions about Spiritual Gifts

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  … The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:15-16, 21) 

In this marvelous chapter Paul addresses three misconceptions about spiritual gifts. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say, they are three misconceptions about ourselves in relation to the body of Christ. 

In verses 15-16, Paul speaks to a struggle which many Christians have. They have difficulty seeing the validity of their own spiritual gift and calling. They believe that, unless they do what other people do, their lives and their service to God have no validity or importance. Such members of the body think, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body.” If only they were anything but an ear, perhaps an eye, then their lives would be valid.  Yet Paul reminds them that God Himself chose their purpose and function – that is the very source of their validity.  And His will for them is to do those things for which He gave them both the ability and the desire to do. Every member is both different and vital to the health of the body and the mission of the church. 

In verse 21 Paul addresses the opposite problem. There are some who think that they are the “ideal member,” the standard by which everyone else should be measured. If other Christians are not engaged in the same ministry as they are, then they are not biblical Christians.  “I’m an eye. Therefore, everyone ought to be an eye. The eye is the most important part. The body has no need for ears, only eyes.” To such believers Paul writes, “If everyone was an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If everyone was an eye, then there wouldn’t be a body at all – just a collection of eyeballs.” 

A third misconception that many Christians have is that they must be like a Swiss Army knife, capable of doing many tasks. Christians in leadership positions struggle with this the most. They feel the pressure to master every possible task that needs to be done. Then they reproach themselves if they fail to measure up. They may even be tortured by a sense of inadequacy. In Romans 12:1-8, a parallel passage to 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells such Christians not to think of themselves more highly than they ought. For God has only given each of us a measure – i.e. a limited amount – of faith. What’s more, God has gifted thousands of others to do all those things for which we feel inadequate. God does not expect one member to do the work of the whole body. 


  • What do you think of yourself? Do any of these misconceptions apply to you? 
  • What do you think is God’s message to you in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12? 
  • Let’s recognize the value of our gift, others’ gifts, and our own limitations. 

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