A common inquiry Christian leaders hear concerns spiritual gifts. “What is my gift” is a common question that is asked. Sometimes followed by, “I have nothing to offer God, no talent, no gift.” We desire to know God’s will for our life. We want to know what our calling is. Identifying gifts allows us to have direction and can focus our passions in certain areas of ministry.
THE GREATEST GIFT (I Corinthians 12:1-3).
The apostle Paul is speaking to a primarily Gentile congregation. Their past religion was spent speaking to idols that did not speak back and help them. Now his concern is that they know how God works in their lives through “spiritual gifts” (vs. 1).
The church at Corinth was full of worshippers that have came from a religion that worshipped “dumb idols” (vs. 2), mute statues. We fall to this mindset of worshipping idols that do not speak back to us. They are things that we use everyday and give more attention to then God. They can not speak and show us how to live our life.
The greatest gift of the Spirit and the first given to believers is the ability to confess that “Jesus is the Lord.” We can not do this on our own but only through the power of and move of the Holy Spirit. Through him we are awakened to our sinful condition, drawn to the savior, and given the grace to have faith in Him for salvation.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS HAVE PURPOSE (I Cor. 12:4-7).
There are nine different gifts that Paul will write about in this passage. Spiritual gifts are different than talents and skills as the gifts give foundation from which our talents and skills are used. Our diversity of skills and talents are used based on these nine gifts but the gifts are founded on the “same Spirit.” This makes the Holy Spirit the great orchestrator of the church and all the gifts, skills, and talents it is invested with.
The gifts are diverse and the “administrations” (vs. 5) and “operations” (vs. 6) add to the diversity that is in the body of Christ. It does not matter how diversified the body becomes there will always be one life giving Spirit, one Lord, one God. This same Spirit working in all believers life brings the Christian community together in a tight knit community.
Many people will share that they do not have any spiritual gifts. This is contrary to scripture as the Spirit has given to “every man.” We can even seek to have other gifts but they are always for the purpose of building up the church. Gifts are never for individual purposes but for the mission of God and life of the Christian community.
A DIVERSITY OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS (I Cor. 12:8-11).
The gifts of the mind deal with understanding God’s revelation, namely His Word. “Wisdom” applies to the ability to apply scriptural truths to everyday situations. “Knowledge” applies to the ability to learn scriptural truths and timeless principles that arise out of the scriptures.
The gifts of “faith” and “healing” are for the body and spirit. All Christians possess faith as it is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) but to some there is exceptional faith in following God. This could be seen also with those that have a healing nature about them. Not only for healing all manners of physical diseases and conditions but also emotional, mental and spiritual issues.
The final grouping of gifts concern themselves within the realm of speaking ministries. “Miracles” may seem to be in part with faith and healing but by it’s placement with speaking gifts we understand that miracles are given to verify what is said (cf. 1 Cor. 2:4). “Prophecy” is making known the will and Words of God. While there is no new prophecy concerning future things there is still the need to share the already revealed Word of God. This is also because there is “discerning” of what needs to be shared with a particular person. God’s Word is alive and speaks to us powerfully through the mouths of others at different points in our life.
The last two gifts deals with learning languages. The ability to learn differents “tongues” is difficult to some and easy to others. We should be thankful for those that are able to easily learn languages so the Word of God is not hindered by language barriers.
All gifts through the Spirit (I Cor. 12:11). Unity by the “Selfsame Spirit” is key. Division hinders their effectiveness.
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