“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:16
In the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, Paul focuses our attention on spiritual gifts, explaining that we are all members of one body but we do not all function in the same way. He sums the teaching up this way in the 16th verse.: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” This is a very profound statement that does not always attract the attention that it should.
Does anyone really understand what it means to suffer with another believer? Or to rejoice with a member who is honored? Suffering is not one of those feelings that many people are keen on experiencing—certainly not for any length of time. Conversely, people often feel jealousy when someone else is honored and find it impossible to rejoice with them.
Yet, this is God’s command to us. And if we love Him, we obey His commandments.
When we open ourselves up to suffering with another believer, we come near to the heart of God. If a brother has a need, we feel it. If he is being persecuted, we hurt. It’s through suffering with our fellow believers that we are able to understand how to pray for and encourage them.
Feeling true joy for another believer when they are honored is sometimes harder than hurting with them. But, we can rejoice with those who are honored by God, not by man and that makes all the difference. Think about how pleasing this is to the Father and those feelings of jealousy will turn into genuine feelings of joy.
As members of one body, this instruction from God in verse 16 is just as important as the previous teachings on spiritual gifts. It’s the closing sentence of the argument. And as is so often true with God, He saves the best for last. Now it’s up to us to start to live it out in our lives. For His glory. Amen.