Spiritual gifts have been given for one reason and one reason only – as a stewardship – something that we are to manage in building up the Body of Christ.
I Corinthians 12:5, “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” These services build the Body for the common good. Spiritual gifts are not for our edification – that’s very important as we lay our foundation. They are not to make us feel more important, or more spiritual, or to build us up.
Does what you do edify other people? Is who you are an edifying influence on other people?
Gifts and Self-Edification
The Corinthians had a real problem there. They took a specific gift – the gift of tongues and used it for self-edification – for self-glorification. Paul very specifically addresses that abuse in Chapter 14 (which we’ll look at some time in the future), but they used it to say, “look at me, look at me.” It became used as a proof of their spirituality. That is alien to every gift, because Jesus only gave the gifts to build the Body.
Now, let me balance that a bit. There are things we do for self-edification. Self-edifying things are not bad – worship, prayer, reading the Word – all have elements that build us up and there’s nothing wrong with those activities as being self-edifying.
The difference is, the gifts are manifestations of the Spirit given for the building of the Body.
God’s Given Us Energizers
Verse 6, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” Workings – or as some versions say, effects – means simply energy or energizers. God has given a measure of energizers to you and to me.
God has energized you in certain areas with certain gifts – why? Well, let’s say God has energized you with the gift of faith, and let’s say I have not been energized in that area. Does that mean I can walk around faithless? No. We all have to have faith because “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
What your gift of faith, energized by God, does in the Body is energize my faith – that’s part of the dynamic of the Body. I look at your faith and it builds my faith up to see it.
What about giving or evangelism? Some of us have been energized with those gifts, others have not. But for those of us that haven’t, it doesn’t get us off the hook. We are still to give and still to witness.
As I see those who have gifts in operation in areas where I’m not particularly energized, it stirs those gifts up in me and challenges me, building up the Body. I am encouraged, learn from, and challenged because of you that has those gifts.
Gifts Are a Manifestation of the Spirit
One final word, I Corinthians 12:7, “Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person. The Spirit gives this to each one to help others.” A gift is a manifestation of the spirit – and means to make clear, to make known, to make visible, to make public.
In other words, it’s the opposite of to be hidden or to hide. The assumption being that if the Spirit of God is manifesting, or making gifts known through us, our purpose then is to serve and not to be served.
Jesus said, I have not come to be served, but to serve, and as his Body, that’s our example, that is our command as we walk in the spirit, close to our Lord.
Not only are we here to serve, but we’ve been equipped to serve. We have been given the gifts we need to edify and build up the body in ways that nobody else can.
When we don’t walk according to the spirit and minister our gifts in the context of relationships, the Body is made weaker and we cannot look like Christ to the world. The wonderful thing is, we have been equipped to be that fullness of Christ.