If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
–1 Corinthians 12:26
You are probably familiar with the German term “schadenfreude.” It is the tendency we have to take pleasure in the suffering of others. And unfortunately, it happens in the body of Christ. Let’s say a pastor in another church falls into sin and disrepute. How do we respond? We joke about it. We condemn. We ridicule. But we do not feel any pain ourselves. Why is that? Because we do not feel any connection to that pastor.
But the Bible says as Christians, we are all connected to one another. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:24-26: “God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” The Bible says we should care for one another because whatever happens to one part of the body happens to all of us. If one member suffers, we all suffer.
In the same way, Paul said, “If one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (v. 26). When another Christian gets a promotion or buys a new home, do we always rejoice with them? No, sometimes we think, “They did not deserve that,” or, “Why doesn’t somebody recognize me?” We are envious of them rather than rejoicing with them. We do not understand that we are connected to one another, so we should rejoice when another member is honored.
Paul closed this section by restating the theme: “You are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (v. 27). Instead of deprecating the differences you have with other Christians, appreciate those differences. God never meant for everybody to think like you do, to enjoy the same things as you do, or to react the same way you do. There are different parts of the body of Christ so it can accomplish its mission.
The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi was once asked about his formula for success. He said, “If you’re going to play together as a team, you’ve got to care for one another. You’ve got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: ‘If I don’t block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.’” Each player thinking about the next player. Each player doing his job well so the others can do their jobs well. That is not only the formula for a winning football team; it is also the formula for a winning church.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Unified but Not Uniform” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Vince Lombardi, as quoted in Lee Iacocca, “Iacocca: An Autobiography” (New York: Bantam, 2007), 60.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.