Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Chapter 7: The Gifts of the Spirit
What’s your knee jerk reaction when you see this topic, “The Gifts of the Spirit”?
Maybe yours is something like mine, which has changed a little over the years, but still basically goes like this:
- What’s my spiritual gift?
- What if I don’t have a spiritual gift?
- When am I going to be able to use my gift at my church?
- Why does it feel like work to use my gift? Does that mean it’s not really a spiritual gift?
- Why don’t I have the gift of ________?
- I wish I had her gift.
These aren’t bad questions. But notice that they are all about me. As an American (and a Southern Californian, no less) I tend to think about spiritual gifts from an individualistic perspective. I’m not trying to be self-centered, but this point of view skews my vision and causes me to miss something–actually two things–that are essential to this topic.
Think Him not me. First, spiritual gifts point to a Giver. It’s interesting to me how quickly I focus on the gift and forget its source. Here we are studying the Holy Spirit, and within minutes I’ve lost my view of him. This chapter will restore my view of the Giver, not just the gifts.
By shifting my focus upward, several course corrections occur. I am drawn to think about his fabulous and multifaceted wealth. Every gift he gives comes from him! Natural gifts and supernatural ones all come out of his personal worth report. Most of us admire people who are wealthy. Spiritual gifts shows off God’s wealth for all to see.
I also am brought face to face with his generosity. He is lavish in his gifts, distributing them freely to every one of his children. Even the least and the weakest is awarded something precious, for it says, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22) and God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it (12:24) . The gifts he gives bestow honor on each of his children, because each gift is a manifestation of himself. He’s not like a wealthy dad who gives gifts as a substitute for himself, he gives them as an expression of himself.
Third I get to see his sovereign choice. He distributes these gifts according to his will. His choice isn’t whether to give, but how to hand them out. Not only is he rich and generous, but he is wise and personal. No whispered, “Honey, what did I give her for Christmas this year?” to indicate that he’s disinterested. No, every grace is personally bestowed.
Finally, he’s got a grand purpose in mind. All of the varieties of gifts are for one thing: the common good. Every gift he gives is to build up the church, until we are complete: unified, mature, and full of Christ.
Think we, not me. Which brings me to the second thing we might miss. Spiritual gifts are about the church. That’s why we need to address our individualistic approach right at the beginning. Because if I’m thinking “me”, I’m going to miss the point. God the Spirit gives gifts to individuals for the sake of the church. That changes how I ask for gifts, how I figure out what my gift is, and how I use my gift. It should even change my knee jerk question to this one:
“What gifts do we need at Grace Church right now?” Let’s ask him together!
This week’s meditation verse: 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.