Many Members, One Body

The body is not one member, but many.

–1 Corinthians 12:14

As Christians, we need to remain united in order to keep from defecting from the faith. Paul talked about that in 1 Corinthians 12:14–15, 20: “The body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. . . . But now there are many members, but one body.” There is not one part of the body of believers that is unimportant. We desperately need one another.

James Smithson was born in France in the mid-eighteenth century, the illegitimate son of an English duke and a woman of royal lineage. Even though he was descended from royalty, he was denied certain privileges and opportunities because of his birth, and those slights compelled him to work hard to succeed. He wanted his name to be remembered.

Smithson excelled in chemistry and mineralogy in school. As a young man, he was admitted into the Royal Society of London and published more than a dozen scientific papers. When Smithson died in 1829, he left an interesting stipulation in his will: the fortune he had inherited from his mother’s family would go to his nephew, but if his nephew died without any heirs, then the money was to go to the United States—a country Smithson had never been to—for the purpose of establishing a great scientific institution. And that’s exactly what happened. Today, the Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum and research complex in the world. Smithson got his wish for his name to be remembered.

We don’t know for sure why Smithson gave all his money to the young nation that had successfully rebelled against England. However, we do know that he felt rejected by the English aristocracy because of his birth and that the Royal Society declined to publish some of his later papers. In Smithson’s eyes, the English thought they didn’t need him when, in reality, they could have benefited greatly from his fortune.

It’s the same way in the body of Christ. You may think, I don’t need other Christians in my walk with God. God and I can make it just fine by ourselves. No, Paul said, we benefit greatly from other Christians. In the body of Christ, we need to encourage one another, love one another, and keep one another strong in the faith. There is strength in numbers.

***

Today’s devotion is adapted from “Strength in Numbers” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Michael Farquhar, “James Smithson: How One Englishman’s Vanity and Bitterness Enriched America,” Washington Post, January 9, 1996, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/1996/01/10/james-smithson/070c7021-fc44-497d-9010-54f25935aebf.

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.

 

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