Our society idolizes individuals of great talent and skills. They are placed on a pedestal because of the achievement they have and even more so if they do it alone. Even in professional team sports, the spotlight is one the individuals who stand out from the team. While their giftedness may be in greater portions, they are for themselves and not the team. Gifts are to be shared and not be hoarded.
THE GREATEST GIFT (I Corinthians 12:1-3).
Knowing your spiritual gifts has been a big topic for many Christians. Through spiritual gift inventory quizzes and other methods, they have tried to identify their God-given gifts. The scriptures teach us that we do not have to “ignorant” (vs. 1) concerning spiritual gifts of others and ourselves. Unlike the Corinthians previous religious affiliation with “dumb” (vs. 2, meaning unable to speak) idols they and we alike serve a God who spoke the Word and revealed His will to each of us through it.
Before we can search for Spiritual gifts, we must be reminded of the greatest gift of God. That is the faith to cry out that “Jesus is the Lord” (vs. 3) made possible only by the Holy Spirit. We are not saved by our own doing but by grace as a gift from God (cf. Eph. 2:8).
SPIRITUAL GIFTS HAVE PURPOSE (I Cor. 12:4-7).
There are many “diversities of gifts” (vs. 4), but the Holy Spirit is the giver of them all. Paul will share nine distinct Spiritual gifts in three different areas. What we learn is that these form a base from which our talents and skills are used for God. All that we do then rests on God and His activity through our lives. Though there are different “administrations (vs. 5) and “operations” (vs. 6) we find that God is the same. As a musician plays multiple instruments, we hear the skill of the same musician but each instrument makes a unique sound.
People mostly want to know their spiritual gifts for self-fulfillment. The gifts of the Spirit are not for personal purposes. They are for the whole body of believers. “Every man (vs. 7) is apparently given a gift (we can seek more vs. 30-31), and it is for the building of God’s kingdom and promoting the gospel.
A DIVERSITY OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (I Cor. 12:8-11).
The Spiritual gifts are divided into categories of the mind, body and spirit, and mouth. The gifts that deal with the mind are wisdom and knowledge. They deal with “the word” (vs. 8) or the revelation of God more commonly called the Bible. Wisdom is the application of the Word in daily life and knowledge is the understanding of Scriptural truths.
The second area concerning the body and spirit are wrapped up in the gifts of “faith” and “healing” (vs. 9). It is interesting that faith is not only a gift but also a fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). All believers have faith, but there are those who seem to have considerably more. Healing (which takes faith) is very needed in our society today. Not just for the physically sick and hurt but for the emotional, mental, and spiritual suffering of people today.
Lastly, there are the gifts that come through the mouth. Prophecy, the gifts of tongues, and interpretation are easier to understand, as gifts of the mouth but “miracles” (I Cor. 12:10) on the other hand, is harder to make sense in why it is included in this last group. The miracles, we are taught, were evidence that the words were right (cf. 2:4)
Such diversity of gifts is grounded in unity by the “Spirit” (vs. 11) who gives as He wills.