1 Corinthians 12:28-31
And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings…
I. GRACES ARE BETTER THAN GIFTS. Gifts were necessary in the early ages of the Church; as outward illustrations of the new spiritual facts, as evidences of the Divine authority of the preachers of the gospel, and as fitting them to carry their message to all nations. And there are still gifts bestowed on the Church. We speak of a person having a gift for preaching or teaching, or praying or giving, etc. The Redeemer's kingdom needs consecrated learning, eloquence, etc. But the apostle sets graces above gifts, a thing surely very remarkable in his case.
II. WHAT GRACES AND GIFTS HAVE IN COMMON.
1. A Divine origin. "What have we that we have not received? By the grace of God we are what we are."
2. A purpose to effect. Both are for the use of edifying. If we have gifts we are to use them in kindly and wise actions, helping our brothers to carry their burdens, or teaching them how best to lay stone upon stone. If we have graces, then we are enabled to exercise a holy influence, inspiring and inspiriting souls.
3. Both can grow and suffer loss.
III. WHAT GRACES HAVE THAT GIFTS HAVE NOT.
1. Graces have the power to come to all, and enrich all. In any very large sense gifts can only be for the few.
2. Graces last for ever. The things which we have must one day drop out of our hands; the dead hand holds nothing. What we are in ourselves we must he for ever.
3. Graces have the power of working always. Gifts are dependent on men's wills, and those wills are often wholly self-ruled. We very seldom can get the full benefit of the gifts of the gifted. But if a man have a grace, he cannot help working for his fellow-men and for Christ.
(R. Tuck, B.A.).
Parallel VersesKJV: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.