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"Who maketh thee to differ from another?
hast thou that thou didst not receive?"—1 Cor. 4:7 .
WHILE it is true that all men are born with inalienable rights and privileges, yet no man is born without sin. The Scriptures very properly declare that the race in Adam was sold under Sin six thousand years ago. In this sense, therefore, we were not born free, but slaves of Sin. Neither are we born equal. No two persons are exactly alike in opportunity, talent and ability. We differ from one another. God did not create some better and some worse—some more richly endowed and some less richly endowed. We are to take the Bible statement of the origin of humanity, and understand that God made Adam perfect. All the imperfections which encumber the human race are the results of the dying process. Sin has made us all to differ, then, from the original image and likeness of God. Satan brought about this difference through Mother Eve.
In our text, however, the Apostle Paul has in mind a New Creation in Jesus Christ—a new order—amongst whose members there is a difference. Some in the Church have many talents, others, few talents; some have special talents, others have ordinary talents. But Satan is not charged with having given the greater or lesser talents to these. The Apostle says that it is God who has set the various members in the Body as it has pleased Him; and that both this setting, or apportioning, of the different members of the Body and the bringing forth of the different degrees of fruitage are manifestations of God's grace in our hearts. Thus we are made to differ from each other.
The matter of growth in the Holy Spirit is one that is dependent in large measure upon each one's zeal to know, to do, the will of God. We are put into the School of Christ to learn of Him. Some learn more rapidly, others less rapidly. In proportion as they learn, they have greater opportunities and blessings. All are granted a measure of the Holy Spirit—all granted some blessing. Those who are anxious to know the will of the Lord and to study it grow the more rapidly, and thus have more of the Holy Spirit. These are zealous to do the Lord's will. Their progress is not attributable wholly to themselves, but especially to the favor of God.
The Apostle goes on to say, Ye are God's workmanship; "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." We could not do this work ourselves. The power that is working in us is of God. He is preparing a glorious Temple. He has provided who shall be the chief corner-stone of this Temple, and who shall be the members of the Temple class. We could not choose the place for ourselves. But in God's providence we each responded to the call to be a living stone. The stones were first cut out of the dark quarry, and now they are being shaped and prepared for places in the glorious building.
The great Master-Workman is doing a work upon us. He is chiseling and fashioning us. He is making us what we are. Consequently there is to be no boasting. There is a certain amount of personality connected with each one, however, and if there is too much cross-grain in the stone it will be abandoned. As the Apostle Peter exhorts, we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time. The same Apostle also reminds us that we should look up to God and give Him praise for all that we have and are.—I Pet. 5:6; 4:11.
We are colaborers with God. We give God the praise that He has made us to differ from our former selves, that He is making us thus to differ more every day, and that He will continue the good work as the days go by and as we seek to do His will. What have we of ourselves? Nothing! We were wholly dead through Father Adam's disobedience; we were born in this condition, having no right to everlasting life. But God has a Plan which is world-wide in its scheme of blessing. He has proffered the blessings of the highest feature of this Plan to us, and invited us to come to Him in advance of the world. And this we receive through His grace.