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16 October 2019
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
They all come from the same place.
A vibrant Church is one in which the Gifts of the Spirit are readily manifest. It is as true today as it was in Paul’s day. The current situation has been sadly and accurately expressed in these words: “It is amazing how much can be accomplished in our churches today without the help of the Holy Spirit.”
To ignore the Holy Spirit, His power and His gifts, or to relegate Him and His activities to history or irrelevance, is to totally misunderstand the heart and plans of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we have seen already, the Holy Spirit has been “alive and well” eternally, and since creation, filling specific people for specific tasks at specific times. However, Joel prophesied the time when the ‘filling’ would be for all; Jews and Gentiles, and for all generations (see Joel 2:28-29).
Peter, the rest of the Apostles, and the other disciples recognised that time started at Pentecost, which took place as promised by Jesus Himself (see John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4-5; 2:14-21, 32-33).
Scripture has to be taken in its entirety and through it we see it has always been the ‘plan of God’ to “create man in His image” (see Genesis 1:27-31). Part of that could only take place by the impartation of the Holy Spirit. We cannot be “born again” without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (see John 3:1-8; 14:15-26).
It follows, therefore, that the Christian Life can reach its peak only when filled by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if Jesus needed the filling of the Spirit – as happened at His water baptism, how much more do you and I need it? (see Ephesians 5:18; Luke 3:21-22; 4:1, 14)
Gifts, however, do not denote spiritual maturity or superiority. Gifts are exactly what they are called – gifts. Paul names some gifts here and although some feel it is an exhaustive list, it may be more accurate to understand that what we are to consider is their variety, rather than their category. Just as we should never ‘put God in a box’, neither should we put the activity of the Holy Spirit ‘in a box’, and I’m quite sure Paul was not trying to do so. Any divine activity of Jesus is a spiritual gift.
Paul’s emphasis appears to be on their variety and inclusiveness to believers. “All these are the work of One and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines” (v 11). Consequently, you have gifts, I have gifts, and so does every child of God. They are for the benefit of others – for the “common good” (v 7). They are not given for us to compare ourselves with others or to arouse jealousy or indeed superiority as they are for everyone’s benefit.
They are not ‘mine’; they are the Holy Spirit’s. Often they come in clusters and I would venture to suggest rarely singly. They are quite distinct from “the fruit of the Spirit”, as we shall see later (see Galatians 5:22-23).
So, as we all have different gifts, we need each other to provide the ones we do not possess – that is why the picture of a Body is so apt.
Let me ask you: “What are your gifts?” If you don’t know, ask God to reveal them to you. You could also ask your Pastor, Small/Cell Group Leader or trusted Christian friend. Sometimes they know better than we do.
Yes, seek the ‘Giver’ more than the gift but… What are you doing with them?
How could you use them more? We all need to continue to develop our ministry.
Which other ones do you desire to have? (See also 1 Corinthians 14:12.)
Spend a moment now asking God about it and then ask Him to help you use them to extend His Kingdom on earth.
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daily devotionals by John White