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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spiritual Gifts

In 1 Corinthians Paul writes about spiritual gifts.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Cor 12:1-7)
He goes on (and on), but I think this is worth considering for a moment.

Spiritual gifts and, in fact, the Holy Spirit Himself seem to be somewhat neglected and misused these days. Either He's some mysterious "Force" like something out of Star Wars or Someone we give a head nod to and move along. Jesus called Him "the Helper" and promised He would "teach you all things" (John 14:26). It was for the Spirit that Jesus said "It is to your advantage that I go away" (John 16:7). The Spirit would convict the world (John 16:8-11), give us words to speak, and lead us into all truth (John 16:13). And in the passage above we read that He alters our perspective and gives gifts.

Now, we know that there are a variety of gifts and ministries and effects -- there is variety in the Body of Christ -- but there are two points that are constant. First, "to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit." God's Word tells us here that all of God's children -- all believers -- are gifted children. Each of us has a gift from the Spirit. These are not talents or skills. They are supernatural gifts. They are gifts from the Lord manifested by the Spirit. Not one of God's children is devoid of at least one of these gifts.

The other key point here is the purpose. Each of us has a manifestation of the Holy Spirit "for the common good." Now, I've heard people tell me, "Oh, yeah, I have a gift; it's the gift of gab." (Why is that the most common?) They smile and I'm supposed to laugh, but how is that "for the common good"? No, this is missing the point. The manifestations we have of the Holy Spirit -- that we all have -- are not for us -- for our pleasure or comfort -- but for the common good.

How is it, then, that so many do not know what their gift is and/or do not use their gift? How is it that many seem to be ignoring this amazing operation of God in us? A large number of believers figure that being invested in the Body of Christ with local believers just isn't that important, but that's the place where these gifts are most needed. Many who do go to church just attend without bothering to use their gifts for the common good. Imagine that! "Here, My child," God says, "I have a wonderful, miraculous gift for you." And you take it and say "Thank you" and put it in the closet. "I wonder if I can regift that?" It is a gift of and by the Holy Spirit -- a "manifestation of the Spirit." "Yeah, yeah, but ..." How do we do this? How do we do this to the God we love and the people we're supposed to?

A primary component of being a believer, a follower of Christ, is the presence and gifting of the Holy Spirit. We have the power of God in us, and that is not a generic power -- that is the person of the Holy Spirit. We are given that presence for our good and for the good of others -- the common good. I would think that we who belong to Christ would be keenly interested in worshiping Him by serving Him in the way that He intended we should by using His gifts for His people. Am I? Are you? I'd think it would be a matter of importance to you and I rather than something we appear to largely ignore.

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