Diversity amidst Unity
Scripture: Ephesians 4:7-16. (Bible reading 1 Cor 12:12-20)
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Paul continues his exhortation to the Ephesians to endeavour “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” verse 3. But he moves now from their sameness to their diversity as a basis for maintaining the unity of believers. He starts with a “but” for there is a contrast in what he was saying to that about which he is to speak.
There is diversity amongst God’s people but that argues for unity rather than division.
At the end of this section, verse 16, Paul refers to the human body as he so often does when dealing with this topic. Here is a picture of that diversity working unity. Each diverse member of the body contributes that which is required to the efficient operation of the whole body.
I. THE DIVERSITY OF GIFTS AND GRACES
1. Each true child of God is a partaker of the grace of Christ. Verse 7, Rom 8:9. Not every member receives the same grace or gift nor even the same measure of grace yet all do receive grace. Every true believer is given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” 2 Peter 1:3-4.
2. Each believer receives grace in a different measure. Differences between the spiritual attainments of believers is not cause for disunity, rather is evidence of the sovereign purpose of Christ. Grace is given “according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” verse 7. Let us be careful of our comments regarding the grace of others lest we be guilty of despising the wisdom and purpose of Christ.
3. The absence of certain gifts or the small measure of grace in some does not mean they are not saved. Rather, in the unity of God’s purpose they have an important role to play. 1 Cor 12:12-30. Such differences often give rise to pride, contempt envy and discouragement but such are the workings of the flesh against the sovereign wisdom of Christ.
However, a little thought will show that such diversity is but an argument for the strongest unity as none, not even the most gifted can succeed without the aid of the weakest member. “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” 1 Cor 12:17. If we were all the same, how incomplete we would be. We could not function at all. Such a view of the matter will show that none of us are indispensable nor would it be good if everyone was like us!
How this would lead us to a humble view of ourselves such as that held by Paul, 3:8.