Chapter OneGifts Tagged "Uniquely You!"
Eternity magazine once told of a sidewalk flower vendor who was doing very little business. Suddenly, a happy thought struck him and he put up this sign: "Buy a gardenia! It will make you feel important all day long!" Almost immediately, his sales began to increase.
We all love to feel important, don't we? And buying a gardenia and wearing it perhaps can help a little in creating that feeling of significance. But God offers you a much greater sense of importance by giving you gifts with your name on them! As you unwrap and use each one, it will make you feel "uniquely you," different from others in God's family yet invaluable to them.
In this lesson, enjoy learning why God has chosen your gifts especially for you. Also discover how to guard against using them inappropriately while thriving on the unending blessings of utilizing them as God intended.
A Moment for Quiet Reflection
1. How well do you know who God has made you? If your closest friends were to list your three greatest strengths, what do you think they would choose?
2. Think of a time recently when someone has enjoyed or benefited from one of your strengths. Did the person show appreciation? How did it make you feel? If you used one of your strengths anonymously, or your action went unnoticed, how did that make you feel?
Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead.... Speak approving, cheering words ... while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them. George William Childs
Knowing God's Heart
1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 together. What do all the gifts have in common? What makes them different?
2. What do you feel are the benefits of having these things in common with other gift recipients? of having things be different about the gifts each of us receives?
3. In the next three lessons we'll look more closely at the four lists of specific gifts the Bible mentions so you can discover whether you are a hand or a foot or even a gallbladder in the body of Christ! For now, read one of the lists in 1 Corinthians 12:7-13. How is each gift given? Why is each gift given?
4. How do you feel about God's reasons for giving his gifts?
5. What do these reasons tell us about God and how he wants to relate to us? about how he wants us to relate to one another?
6. Whenever we receive a gift, we can be tempted to use it unwisely. We can flaunt new clothes or recklessly drive a new car. We'll be happiest, however, when we use the gifts God gives in the way he designed us to use them. In verses 14-16 and 20-21, note what two types of statements we might be tempted to make as we discover our gifts.
7. With which of the above temptations do you struggle most frequently? Describe a time when you faced this temptation and what you did to try to overcome it.
8. Paul counters each of these temptations with God's perspective, which frees us to appreciate our-and everyone else's-unique part in the body. In 1 Corinthians 12:22-24 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, what hope does Paul offer when we are tempted to feel inferior?
9. What guidance does Paul give us for when we are tempted to feel superior? (See 1 Cor. 12:17-18 and Rom. 12:3, 10, 16.)
10. Share with your group a time when you felt inferior or superior. How could these truths in 1 Corinthians have helped you handle your situation and your feelings about yourself a little differently?
11. Read 1 Corinthians 12:18-19, 24-27. How does God arrange the parts of the body?
12. Why does he put us together the way he does?
13. Without naming names, who do you know right now who might fit into the category of feeling weaker or more dispensable to the body? What is one thing you could do to help that person receive greater honor?
14. Describe a time when you were suffering and what steps someone else took to suffer with you. Or when you were being honored and how someone went out of his or her way to rejoice with and honor you.
I have known laughter-therefore I may sorrow with you more tenderly. Garrison
1. Reread 1 Corinthians 12:26. As a group, identify which of the women among you are suffering right now. Which of you are being honored? Brainstorm ways you could obey Paul's instructions to suffer with those who are suffering and to rejoice with those who are being honored.
2. Choose the person on your right as the one you will rejoice or suffer with this week. Ask God to show you some small way you could let her know of your participation in her joy or sorrow, and take action in the week ahead.
Just for Fun
So you won't feel alone in your sorrows and joys, divide your group into two teams and take the following quiz before leaving. It will remind you of that "great cloud of [female] witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) who have gone on before you. Remember, they are watching and cheering you on from the grandstands even now! Try to complete the quiz without looking up the passages, but if you're stumped, feel free to consult your Bibles.
Match the following sorrow/joy with the correct woman of Scripture:
1. "Oh no! I'm having twins!" a. Rhoda (Acts 12:12-17)
2. "The waters are at flood level b. Abigail (1 Sam. 25) and it's still raining!"
3. "My mistress sent me away c. Esther (Est. 4-8) but God found me."
4. "I sure like fruit but eating it d. Rebekah (Gen. 25:20-23) was a disaster for all of us!"
5. "I lost a husband but gained e. Hagar (Gen. 16) a wonderful mother-in-law, a new land, and a new God."
6. "I arrived just in time to stop f. Ruth (Ruth 1) the anger of a king-in-waiting and eventually became his wife."
7. "Though I conceived out of g. Eve (Gen. 3) wedlock, I carried the most precious child ever to be born."
8. "Though my people were h. Mary (Luke 1-2) threatened with death, God gave us life due to my position."
9. "I was so frightened, I thought i. Deborah (Judg. 4) I had seen an angel. It was actually Peter whom God had released from prison!"
10. "I led the Israelites into battle j. Noah's wife (Gen. 6) when Barak wouldn't take the lead. God met us and we won!"