1 Corinthians 12:25
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another.
Sermons
Public SpiritCharles Kingsley1 Corinthians 12:25
Concerning Spiritual GiftsM. Doris, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Of Spiritual GiftsC. Hodge, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Spiritual GiftsCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Spiritual GiftsK. Gerok, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Spiritual GiftsC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Spiritual Gifts and InspirationF. W. Robertson, M.A.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
The Christly AssemblyD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
The Unity of the Christian Church is its DiversityPastor Pfeiffer.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
The Work of the Spirit in Modern LifeC. Short, M.A.1 Corinthians 12:1-31
The Law of Order in the Human BodyR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
The Body of ChristE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
A Living Unity RequiresJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
A Place for the Feeblest1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Every One Should Keep to His Own StationJ. Spencer.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Helpful Co-Operation1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Mutual DependenceJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Mutual Support1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Power of the FeebleA. Vinet, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
The Feeble are NecessaryD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
The Least of Service to the GreatestH. Melvill, B.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
The Members of the Body of ChristJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
The Uses of the FeebleD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Working Men, HearT. De Witt Talmage, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:20-25
Membership of a BodyDean Vaughan.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Of SchismJames Foster.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
SchismJ. Hicks.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Schism May be DestructiveGreat Thoughts1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Social ResponsibilityCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Benevolence of the GospelJ. Wayland, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Duty of All to Rejoice At the Honour Given to Their BrethrenT. Robinson.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Sufferings of All in the Sufferings of OneD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Unity of the Body in Suffering1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Unity of the Body in Suffering1 Corinthians 12:25-26


In previous verses the apostle has expostulated with those in lowly stations and with inferior gifts who give way to the temptation to repine because of what is their own and to envy the higher position and the larger gifts of others. In this verse he exemplifies his justice and impartiality, rebuking those who despise such as are beneath them in mental or spiritual endowments.

I. PRIDE FOLLOWS UPON FORGETFULNESS OF THE DIVINE SOURCE OF ALL GIFTS. The man who looks down upon his fellow Christian virtually boasts of whatever he himself has which he deems a ground of superiority. Now, this is in contradiction to the precepts of the Bible and the spirit of Christ. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Who hath made thee to differ?"

II. CONTEMPT IMPLIES FORGETFULNESS OF THE RULE OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Can we say to a brother, "I have no need of thee"? whilst we remember that the Head of the Church has stationed him where he is, and has given him what he possesses? To question his place in the Church, his function in the body, his service to the Head, is to dispute the wisdom and the authority of Christ himself.

III. CONTEMPT IS SELF DESTRUCTIVE. It rebounds upon the head of him who casts it at his neighbour. For the fact is that we are members one of another in such a sense that each one's efficiency and usefulness is to a large extent dependent upon those of his brethren. In the figure used by the apostle, the eye and the head in which it is so pre-eminently and regally stationed, are taken as representing the great and notable among the members of a Christian society. And it is laid down as evident that they cannot say to hand, to foot, to the trunk and all the vital organs, "I have no need of you." For the fact is, they have such need. The well known fable of Agrippa may be quoted, as in Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus,' in illustration and proof of the mutual dependence of all parts of the organism. So is it in the Church of God. The great controversialist, the great episcopal administrator, the great Biblical scholar, the great church builder, are all doubtless and undeniably of great importance, and fill a large place in men's eyes. But the obscure pastor, the lowly Scripture reader, the unnoticed Bible woman, the patient and unrewarded teacher of the young, - these and many others like them are the rank and file of the army, and cannot be dispensed with. To look down upon them with disdain would be a proof of folly as well as of sinful self conceit. Happily, the truly great are ever foremost to recognize the value of the labours of the humble, ever foremost to do them honour. They know full well that their own work would fall to pieces were it not for the unnoticed work of others who may be less known to fame.

IV. MUTUAL RESPECT IS PROMOTIVE OF SPIRITUAL UNITY. Let there be murmuring among the lowly and disdain among the great, and there follows at once a "schism." But when each renders due honour to his brother, the society is compacted, and is made strong for its united work and witness in the world. - T.







There should be no schism in the body.
Great Thoughts.
A screw in the crank of an engine of an express train at full speed thus addressed itself to the surrounding machinery: "I'm very small, but exceedingly important. Without me the whole fabric would come to grief. Upon me depends the successful working of the whole engine. Now just you observe how important I am!" and then without more ado the screw leapt from its socket, involving the whole train in hopeless wreckage.

(Great Thoughts.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. Its rise — a division of opinion. In this stage it existed among the hearers of the Saviour concerning the Messiahship of Jesus; and John informs us "so there was a division (schism) among the people because of Him." While it proceeds no further, it becomes the obvious duty of believers to endeavour by earnest prayer, diligent investigation of the Scriptures, and calm friendly conference, to come to the same mind.

2. Its progress — a breach of friendship, either by unkind words or unkind treatment, by partial or obvious neglect, from a want of love to the brethren and concern for their interest and welfare, or from regarding any member or members of the Church as inferior, useless, or unnecessary.

3. Its results.

(1)It divides the interests of the people of God.

(2)It destroys the spirit of prayer.

(3)It exposes religion to contempt.

(4)It brings misery or ruin to the individual who excites or promotes it.

II. THE DUTY OF BELIEVERS AS RESPECTS IT.

1. By exercising great care in the admission of persons into the Church.

2. By watchfulness over our own tempers — guarding against every proud, haughty look, word, or action. We must cultivate mutual forbearance, and impartiality in our treatment of, and expressions concerning, our fellow-members, and the ministers of the gospel. We must be very watchful over the tongue. Many schisms have commenced in an unguarded trifling word. We must shun all false doctrines.

3. By submission to Church discipline.

4. By prayer. Communion with God conforms us to His image, and that image is love.

(J. Hicks.)

In general there can be no such thing as schism but in cases where there, is an obligation to unity and communion; so that in order to define the nature of it we must find out some centre of union which is common to all Christians.

1. As for uniformity of sentiment in matters of speculative belief, that can never be the common centre of Christian unity, because it is in the nature of things impossible. For in order to this, all mankind must have exactly the same strength of understanding, the same advantages, the same manner of education, the same passions, prejudices, and interests. Besides, if all Christians must concur in the same way of thinking about every controversy in religion, whose opinion shall prevail, and be made the public standard? Are the majority to decide for us? How shall we determine, without collecting the vote of every individual, who are the majority? Are the majority always in the right? Or must we, for the sake of uniformity, profess (believe we cannot) against truth and reason? Will not this make all religion dissimulation and hypocrisy? But if uniformity of opinion cannot be secured in this way, shall we not be governed by the most learned and pious Christians, who are neither influenced by irregular passion, nor swayed by criminal prejudice? I answer, that who are really the most learned and pious will be matter of endless dispute, and can never be certainly fixed. They are fallible as well as others; and have frequently maintained such principles as derogate highly from the honour of God, and are of vast disservice to religion. It appears then from what has been said, that to endeavour to bring all mankind to the same sentiments in matters of religious controversy is an absurd, romantic scheme, and represents religion as nothing else but outward formality, artifice, and craft. The same may be said of uniformity in external modes of worship and discipline, viz., that this, likewise, cannot be a necessary term of Christian communion. For it will be altogether as difficult to determine who are to settle external rites and ceremonies, and forms of Church-government, as articles of speculative belief. Besides, the lawfulness, expediency, or Divine authority of any particular form is as much a matter of private opinion as the truth or falsehood of doctrinal propositions; and therefore it is as natural to expect a variety of sentiments about it. Let me add to this, that a variety of sentiments in religion, while moderation and mutual charity are maintained, can do no hurt, whereas an attempt to introduce public uniformity has been a constant source of schisms in the Church, and will infallibly keep alive a spirit of animosity. And finally, when there is a difference of opinions, and a variety of outward forms, this is just such a state of things as wise man would expect, if all were honest and impartial inquirers; whereas if one set of principles and the same scheme of worship were universally to prevail, it would not look like human nature; it would have nothing of the appearance of sincerity; and, consequently, must lead an indifferent spectator to conclude that religion was all complaisance, courtliness, and carnal policy, and did not spring from a conviction of the understanding, or a free deliberate choice.

2. I would make a few observations, relating to the nature and guilt of schism, and so conclude.(1) It appears, that let there be ever so many differences amongst Christians, as long as mutual charity is preserved there cannot be the guilt of schism. A man that holds the common faith of the gospel, leads a holy life, behaves peaceably, and has charity for all, notwithstanding the little varieties by which they are distinguished from each other, does not differ from any church so far as it is formed on the essential principles of Christianity; but only takes that liberty of judging for himself which reason allows and revelation comfirms to him; a liberty to differ from fallible expositions of Scripture, from civil constitutions, or ecclesiastical ordinances of rather less authority.(2) Differences among Christians are not only innocent while unity of affection is preserved, but there are many cases in which a separation from a particular church is absolutely necessary.(3) None who are truly honest, who are not swayed by irregular passions, or vicious prejudices, but, upon a deliberate impartial inquiry, according to their capacity and advantages, think themselves obliged, in conscience, to dissent from their brethren; no such persons as these, I say, can possibly incur the guilt of schism. For this would be to make honesty itself a crime; and at the same time that we suppose it a man's duty to act according to the light and directions of his conscience, to reproach and condemn him for it. And shall not we treat involuntary errors with candour and humanity?

(James Foster.)

And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it
Look upon this —

I. AS A FACT.

1. The sufferings of the unfortunate in a community affect each. The sufferings of the merchant whose business breaks down, of the agriculturist whose crops fail, of the operatives who are thrown out of work, affect more or less each individual in the State.

2. The sufferings of the criminals in a community affect each. There is the swindler whose schemes, after enriching his own coffers, break down, spreading disasters far and wide. There is the murderer, whether by assassination or by war, his sufferings, for sufferings he has, affect all in some way or other. The record of the assassin's life, trial, and execution, brings a pang into many a heart. So also wars bring suffering, in some form or other, to every individual in a community.

3. The sufferings of the non-industrious in a community affect each. There are tens of thousands in every civilised community who lounge their existence away in drawing-rooms, clubs, and taverns: they consume all and produce nothing. They sigh out their miserable existence under the weight of ennui; each one of the community is more or less affected. The common stock of human subsistence depends upon labour, and is limited: they therefore who partake of that stock without labour are social thieves. These sufferings may be in body, through deprivation of some comfort, or necessary, or in mind.(1) By a painful sense of responsibility.(2) By a painful sense of disgust for the race. Who can see human nature swindling, murdering, idling, debauching, without feeling ashamed of the race to which he belongs.

II. AS A DUTY. We are commanded to "bear each other's burdens," to "weep with those that weep," etc., in fact, to follow Christ. And what was Christ? The incarnation of a Divine philanthropy. Now, the duty of every man is, as a member of the race, to suffer by practical philanthropy with and for a suffering world: so suffer for it as to pray, labour and die for it, if need be.Conclusion —

1. Do not be too severe on criminals. The vilest criminal that England ever produced has been nursed and matured by the conjoint influences of each man's life: each member of the State has contributed a something to produce it.

2. Live to purify the moral atmosphere of the world. One day we believe the atmosphere of the world will be so pure with holiness that human snakes and poisonous reptiles will no longer live therein. Contribute your part to this end, send into it the noblest thoughts, to circulate and breathe into it the purest influences of love and light.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

As when by chance a thorn is planted in the heel, all the body manifests a fellow-feeling; back, hands, stomach, and thighs are drawn together, hands like attendants or esquires approach the wounded part and proceed to extract the painful fixture; head stoops, eyes look sad, the brow is delved with parallels of solicitude.

( Chrysostom.)

When one's finger is hurt such is the fellow-feeling which spreads along the body to the soul until it reaches the ruling principle, that, the whole condoling with the part afflicted, the man says not "my finger is in pain," but I have a pain in my finger.

( Plato.)

1. Was there ever a truer remark than that of the text? A particle of dust in the eye, an irritable nerve in one tooth, a sprain in the foot, and what an instant cessation of the enjoyment of life! What does a day's pleasure become when an aching head or an inflamed eye has to be carried about through it? On the other hand, when one member is specially honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Imagine that a particle of dust has lurked in the eye for a night and a day; now imagine it removed, and what a positive sense of pleasure is diffused through the whole frame! Every other part is found as it were to congratulate the relieved part. Such is the truth from which St. Paul here draws his spiritual lesson.

2. It is not good for man to be alone; in one sense it is not possible. A poor, stunted character would that be which was wholly self-contained. That is what fallen human nature runs to; but it does not love it when it sees it in a living example. No one thinks selfish a term of praise. And God, well knowing this tendency, has interposed at every turn to save us all from it.

I. HE HAS SET US IN FAMILIES, AND THE TENDENCY OF FAMILY LIFE IS TO COUNTERACT SELFISHNESS. What do we see to be the effects of the practical want of a home? But alas, we may live in exemplary, Christian homes, and not learn the lesson of membership of a body; not learn the debt of gratitude which the eye owes to the hand for obeying its indication, and the head to the foot for executing its mandate; not learn how a son should deport himself towards a mother, or a brother deal with a sister.

II. THAT WHICH, FOR ONE PART OF THE HUMAN FAMILY, CAN BE DONE ONLY BY THE HOME, IS DONE FOR ANOTHER BY VARIOUS SUBSIDIARIES. What especially qualifies a public school to be of use in forming the character is the fact that it is a body, an organised whole made up of parts, each one of which has its own definite work, which yet affects and is affected by every other. I know nothing so satisfactory, in connection with school games, as their influence in leading boys to value skill or strength not so much as a means of individual success or reputation, but as a means of security for the success or reputation of the school. It remains to be seen whether the school feeling will bear good fruit hereafter. And that it may do so, let us pray that school patriotism may be carried into its legitimate field. If, e.g., you see one of your schoolfellows sin, suffer with him; give yourself no rest till you have done something to save a soul from death.

III. PATRIOTISM IS ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE FEELING OF COLLECTIVE LIFE OUGHT TO BE SHOWN. God has designed our country to be the highest object but one of our thoughts and cares on earth.

IV. BUT WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND MEMBERS IN PARTICULAR. See that you live together as those who are so. Let no act ever be done inconsistent with the proper working of the various parts and members of the whole Christian body. Never say to yourselves, I am too insignificant to be of any account amongst Christ's members, nor to another, we have no need of thee. Christ's object in having an earthly body is that we may help one another. Be not selfish in your religion: heaven is not so won. The individual life will be healthy and vigorous in proportion as it expands and diffuses itself towards those around. Let not Christian life be the beauty of a few exotics scenting a room; but rather that of a garden of the Lord, watered, tended, and bearing fruit; in the full light, in the free air; having in the midst of us that tree of life, the leaves of which are not for the privilege of the few, but for the healing of the nations.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. GOD BESTOWS UPON US NOTHING MERELY ON OUR OWN ACCOUNT BUT FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS. We should all sympathise in the sorrows, and rejoice in the joys, of each other, as if they were our own. This principle is not peculiar to the Church. It enters into the very idea of a society, that we are reciprocally affected by whatever affects every member.

1. Take, e.g., the family. Let but the youngest and the least considerable suffer, and what a shade of sadness is spread over the whole household! When the family grows up to maturity, it might, at first, seem as though the chain which once bound them so closely together had been severed. The thought of each other rarely breaks in upon the pressing cares of each one's daily occupation. But let any of these brothers attain to high distinction, and what a lustre is at once reflected on all who bears his name! Or let a member disgrace himself by crime, and how mournfully the disgrace settles down upon his kindred.

2. But we are members of a larger society. Our happiness in the community is subject to the same law. If our fellow-men around us suffer, we shall suffer also, unless we do all in our power to relieve them. Let a deadly epidemic alight upon some neglected neighbourhood, and it will be wafted to the dwellings of the opulent, and the pestilence will utter in solemn accents the words of the text.

3. Take a more extensive field. How often has the form of social organisation been constructed for the sole benefit of the few, rather than the whole! You will see the face of the land here and there beautified by the mansions of the proprietors, while the million, the children of ignorance and vice, herd together in cabins like brutes. All this goes on quietly, it may be, for generations. At last, some famine or some giant act of oppression maddens the multitude to frenzy, and all at once the fabric of government which ages had cemented crumbles into dust.

4. Or we may observe the relations of a single individual to a whole nation. Suppose that a Government lays its hand unrighteously upon the smallest portion of the property of a citizen. It may be, for instance, the ship-money of Hampden, or the trifling tax on tea that inaugurated the American revolution. At once the shock is felt by the remotest citizen of the realm. One member has suffered, and all the members have suffered with it. By inflicting injustice on a single citizen, the Government has outraged the moral sentiment of the nation. And it must retrace its steps; or else, unless the love of liberty be wholly extinguished, a revolution must ensue.

II. IF GOD HAS MADE OUR HAPPINESS TO DEPEND UPON THE COURSE OF LIFE HERE INDICATED, HE HAS DONE SO TO TEACH US HIS WILL. A moral necessity is thus laid upon us. We cannot live to ourselves without doing violence to our conscience and incurring the consequences of disobedience to God. But, in a matter of so much importance, we are not left to the unassisted light of natural religion. The Bible teaches us this doctrine on every page. Our Father imposes upon us no duty of which He has not set us the example. We are to imitate His boundless beneficence, by using the talents of every kind which He has committed to us for the good of others. We are to imitate His self-sacrificing love in the plan of redemption, by carrying the good news of salvation to the lost. Such was the Spirit of Christ, and we are told that unless we have the Spirit of Christ we are none of His. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Conclusion: We are spending our probation under the most solemn of all possible conditions. The choice between two modes of life is presented to every one of us. Will you live unto yourself, and lose your own soul, or will you live unto God, and enter into the rest that remaineth? Now is the time for decision.

(J. Wayland, D.D.)

St. Paul was thinking mainly of moral, not of physical, sufferings. The Church at Corinth had been guilty of grave crimes which ought, he contends, to be felt as a misfortune weighing upon all. Does our estimate of crime correspond to the spirit of these words? It is notorious that our interest in a great trial is just that we feel in a novel. It is very interesting, very horrible, but we have nothing to do with it. We observe the criminal as if he were a wild creature in the Zoological Gardens; and then when he is convicted and sentenced we say, "He is rightly served; let us have no maudlin sentimentality; society is well rid of the rascal." And so we shut up our novel and fall back on tamer subjects — our everyday duties — till some new excitement presents itself. Now is this justifiable, Christian or warranted by the facts? Note —

I. THE PRINCIPLES WHICH OUGHT TO GOVERN A CHRISTIAN'S THOUGHT IN HIS ESTIMATE OF A GREAT CRIMINAL CASE.

1. Every criminal is, to a certain extent, the product of the spirit of the society in which he has passed his life. Just as certain marshy districts are favourable to the growth of noxious insects or diseases, so particular moods of popular feeling are favourable to the growth of crime. Of course no criminal is altogether the helpless unconscious victim of his circumstances. A man's free will is never necessarily enslaved by anything external to himself. Yet most of us are largely governed by the influences amidst which we pass our lives. For many to breathe an atmosphere of moral corruption is to become almost inevitably criminal. Now who is responsible for this atmosphere? "Not I" would be the answer of most of us, and no doubt we have not contributed directly to this or that particular crime; but have we contributed nothing to that state of feeling which makes the crime natural to the criminal? Nay, there is a general stock of moral evil in the world to which we all contribute by the sin we commit just as every small house in London does its little something to thicken the air. And this touches us all like the common atmosphere we all breathe. If one suffer, therefore, all of us should suffer with him.

2. All guilt is relative to a man's opportunities in the sight of God. Our Lord insists again and again that a man's responsibility exactly corresponds with his opportunities of knowing what is right. "Woe unto thee, Chorazin," etc. "To whom much is given," etc. This we practically ignore. We think of the poor man who has been denied our advantages as if he had acted from the same level of knowledge, etc., that we occupy. But his grave crime may, in him, mean less unfaithfulness to light and grace than what we deem our little peccadilloes. If we kept this in mind when one member suffered we should all suffer with him.

3. There should be a deep sincere conviction of our own condition as sinners before God; we shall then have no heart to be hard on others. Our own capacity for evil is only checked by the grace of God. "If it were not for the grace of my Maker," says St. , "I should have been the worst of criminals."

II. WHAT HAVE BEEN, WHAT OUGHT TO BE THE EFFECTS OF THIS CHRISTIAN WAY OF LOOKING AT CRIME?

1. The softening of the penalties of criminal law. The conscience of society stays its hand with the whisper, "Who art thou that judgest another?"

2. Constant efforts to cut up its roots by schools, reformatories, Christian charity, etc.

3. The resolve to live nearer to God ourselves. We cannot influence legislation, or found institutions for the reformation of criminals, but we can all do something within our own souls which will help to purify the corrupt moral utmost, here.

(Canon Liddon.)

Or one member be honoured all the members rejoice with it
I. REJOICING IS A CHRISTIAN DUTY — required —

1. On our own account.

2. On account of others. Here an unselfish sympathy with another's honour — not merely not to envy it, but to rejoice in it.

II. WHAT THIS REJOICING AT THE HONOUR PAID TO OTHERS MAY BE THE MEANS OF. Of —

1. Increasing their joy.

2. Demonstrating your love and sympathy.

3. Engaging and confirming their love to you.

(T. Robinson.)

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