THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
The 6th chapter in the Harry Potter series is due out in movies next week, and promises to do as well as the previous five have done. Harry Potter likely appeals to audiences for several reasons, the most basic of which are the desire in all of us to have adventures, to conquer great dangers, and to be unique and special. Harry Potter has all those things. Harry Potter has something else most people don’t have – and that’s a very powerful gift of magic. Yet, his power is oftentimes linked with his evil arch-enemy Voldemort. While Harry Potter is a fictional character in a make-believe world, that linkage might be a far greater reality when magic is concerned than most children realize.
The unfortunate thing is not so much that millions of people are fascinated with Harry Potter. The tragedy is that millions of Christians are not fully aware of the power of God, and the gifts that God has given them to fight very real battles in spiritual matters. Harry Potter is fiction, but the Holy Spirit is not. And unlike Harry Potter’s magic, there is no connection to our arch-Enemy when we walk in the Spirit. The Enemy of our souls wants to discourage us and keep us from a true and loving and devoted relationship to our Father in Heaven through Jesus Christ. Our Enemy does not want us growing stronger in God’s grace and in the use of the gifts He has given us.
Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians teaches that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each of us, spiritual gifts, supernatural gifts. Like parts of a body, we all have a different purpose, a different position to fill. What’s more, every one of us is important for the Body of Christ to function properly. No one of us can say, “I don’t matter.”
“And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:16-18, 21
That’s very important. If we have a spiritual gift and do not exercise it, we defraud the body. When one part of the Body is hurting or damaged or listless, the rest of the Body feels it. Our gifts are given to bless the Body of Christ, and when we grow stronger in our understanding of our gifts, it blesses the whole Body. One of the greatest adventures is to discover our spiritual gift because that’s a clue to what our ministry will be. Diversity of service but one church; diversity of gifts, but one Spirit; diversity of members but one body – this is the essential message of chapter 12.
Chapter 14 deals with the abuse of gifts. The greatest of the gifts is prophecy, which edifies the church and convinces outsiders, but its use should be orderly. We can find our gifts and use them with confidence, but mis-use can be just as damaging as not using our gifts at all. Where is the balance? The answer to the questions of spiritual gifts is right between 12 and 14: All these gifts, whatever they are, are only truly effective when ministered in love.
Chapter 13 speaks of the utter necessity of love, the moral excellency of love, and the abiding supremacy of love. The Holy Spirit is looking for fruit – we should be inspecting fruit, not gifts. Paul said:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
We have gifts, but they are not to beat people down or to cause harm or to bring ourselves glory. They are given to heal and lift up and strengthen feeble arms. They are meant to bring health to the Body of Christ in a very dangerous and painful world. As we draw closer to Christ, walking in His Spirit and in His love, He will work his power through us in ways we could never have expected. And they will be ways that will cause real change, with real eternal consequences. It takes practice, and it takes God’s careful training and timing in us, but if we just concentrate on knowing Him, He will do the work.
1 Corinthians 13 gives us a wonderful description of God’s love, and the love He wants to shine through the earthen vessels that we are for now. God’s love:
• suffereth long, and is kind;
• envieth not;
• vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
• doth not behave itself unseemly,
• seeketh not her own,
• is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
• rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth
• beareth all things, believeth all things,
• hopeth all things, endureth all things.
We can learn the character of Christ by substituting His name for “love” in this passage – Christ suffers long and is kind, Christ envies not, etc. What happens when we put our name in place of love? The disparity is embarrassing, but as we grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that disparity narrows, because His goal is for us to fit that description. We grow by walking moment by moment with the Holy Spirit.
For a more detailed discussion on what the Bible has to say about this topic, listen to our briefing titled The Spiritual Gifts.
• A Bible Study for Our Times:The Corinthian Letters – Koinonia House
• The Spiritual Gifts – Audio CD – Koinonia House
• The Spiritual Gifts – MP3 Download – Koinonia House
• I & II Corinthians – MP3 Download – Koinonia House
• The Armor of God: Footwear For the Big Race – Koinonia House
• The Spiritual Gifts – 66/40 – Koinonia House