But now there are many parts, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:20-26

Paul, wishing to convey the equality of all believers, often uses the analogy of the Church as a body comprised of many parts. Each part serves a different purpose and is necessary for the healthy function of the whole.

But just as some of us might be offended if we were compared to an armpit or equally offended if a preacher were to even mention certain body parts in the context of a lesson (a message for another time, maybe), Paul points out that while some parts or roles aren’t the ones we wish to show to everyone, they are some of the most important!

We sometimes don’t show the hardest work we do. A person who helps those in need should do so in secret, after all (Matthew 6:4), both for the dignity and honor of the one receiving the blessing and the humility of the one doing the good work.

When we receive someone’s confession of sin or confess ourselves, we do a work which would be undignified to take on publicly and lift up a burden. A necessary role, but one which we tuck away.

There are many such examples for which no outward honor is given but indeed, abundant honor is actually shown in the way we cover them up! Those less presentable parts are dressed up where other things are shown off, made up in glory where other things are bare in their beauty.

This is what abundant honor looks like; God created us to honor the Body of the Church altogether, both that which we are unashamed to show, and that which we discreetly honor by hiding away.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published February 25, 2021