As we continue to look deeper into the gifts or manifestations of the spirit, it’s so important to realize that they are given of God for service. Pride is such a natural bent in us as humans that we need to guard against thinking it’s all about us or that we are doing things when God is actually the one working through us.
If we have the evangelists planting churches and pastors teaching, one of the things that needs to dawn on all of us is that it’s not enough.
After I Corinthians 12:28 the scripture says, miracles, then gifts of healings, then helps, then administrations, and various kinds of tongues. If we back up to verses 8-10 it says, “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
A bricklayer whose brother was a famous violinist was talking with his boss one day. His boss said, “It must be great to have a brother who is known around the world.” Then, not thinking that he might have offended his worker’s pride, he continued, “Of course, we must accept the fact that talent isn’t equally distributed – even in the same family.”
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?
When we use the phrase “different kinds of gifts” - or the word graces is sometimes used as well - it means God has gifted every one of us in a variety of ways. No two of us are the same! (I Corinthians 12:5-6)
Later in verse 11, Paul says something interesting, “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” He distributes to each one or individually. The Greek word for that is idios. What do you think of when you hear that word?
A few years ago, it was all the rage to find out what your spiritual gifts are. There are tests you can take to find out, but I want you to consider something. If first and foremost we realize that spiritual gifts are beyond the natural – characterized by the spirit – then our focus as we deal with the gifts shouldn’t necessarily be the gifts but should instead follow what Paul said when he said, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
In Jesus Christ there is the full expression of every one of the gifts. Did Jesus have the gift of giving? Yes! Did He have the gift of mercy? Yes! Did he have the gift of preaching? Yes! Gift of teaching? Yes. Faith? Yes, he did! Now in the body of Christ, the church, I do not have all those gifts, and YOU do not have all those gifts, but you know what? WE have all those gifts. And as the body begins to function and use those gifts, and minister to each other, all of the gifts are there. And the ministry begins to take place – not with just 5 people, but with everyone having their part.
The full functioning of the gifts of the Spirit within the church is absolutely essential to the building up of the body, that the body may indeed look like Christ. There is no way that the church can be the church without the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit. They are the gifts God has given to us to help us be Christ in the world.
But not only is the subject vital, it’s also controversial since not all Christians agree on how the gifts are to be expressed, how they are to be used, how many there are, how important certain ones are, what those gifts even are, or how they are discovered. And to top it off, what about tongues?
Recently I started a new blog series on "The Gifts of the Spirit" by talking about being “Equipped for Significance.” I want to take a different approach to the gifts than what you might normally see. My view of the gifts is simple: they are supernatural. They are given (hence the word "gifts") by God as needed for service. As I said, simple. So, go on this journey with me as we flesh out what Paul has to say about them and how we are "gifted" to glorify God.
Do you want your life to be marked by significance? Do you sometimes feel like even though you want your life to have significance, you just don’t have the tools or skills for it – that you aren’t equipped for significance?
Maybe you even feel a little bit like the customer who called the computer helpline: