“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things,distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
(1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
In the Scripture selection above, the apostle Paul points out that before the Corinthians believers had received the gift of the Spirit, they were led astray to dumb idols.
What kind of gifts do you like? Do you like practical gifts or gifts intended purely for enjoyment? Do you like gifts you wouldn’t get for yourself or gifts that will improve your life? Perhaps you like homemade gifts because of the love that went into making them.
When it comes to spiritual gifts, the gifts of the Spirit are always exactly what we need and they are delivered just when we need them!
The first and greatest gift is that of the Holy Spirit Himself. In the Scripture selection above, the apostle Paul points out that before the Corinthians believers had received the gift of the Spirit, they were led astray to dumb idols. But the Holy Spirit converted them, giving them the gift of faith by which they called Jesus their Lord.
God invites us, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Who could ask for a better birthday gift than the Gift that gives new birth and eternal life?!
True faith is a gift we wouldn’t and couldn’t get for ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can give it to us. (Talk about a gift that improves a person’s life!) The Spirit removes the burden of having to gain God’s favor through our own works or sufferings, while at the same time He clothes us with the righteousness of Christ. That “clothing” makes us beautiful in the eyes of God our Father and connects us to Jesus’ death so that we receive His life.
See the love of this gift made by hand–by hands that were nailed to Calvary’s cross for the world of sinners! Praise God for this gift above all others.
Since we are now the Father’s adopted children, the Spirit showers us with many other gifts. Some are for our enjoyment and for the enjoyment of those around us. Included among the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, and peace (see Galatians 5:22). There is no greater enjoyment in life than to have and to share these Spirit-created gifts with others.
In the spiritual realm, do we desire specific gifts?
In the spiritual realm, do we desire specific gifts? The Spirit gives us His own strength to keep us delighting in God’s commandments. In His wisdom He gives a variety of other gifts so that we learn to depend on each other and love and serve one another. These gifts are not for our own personal advantage or greatness, but they are given “for the profit of all” (v. 7).
In this Scripture reading the apostle lists several other practical gifts:
“To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit.” The gifts of wisdom and knowledge are similar. By mentioning them first, Paul shows their superior nature and importance.
The Spirit gives some Christians the ability to know and understand the great mysteries of the Bible and then also to explain them simply. To others He gives the wisdom to apply God’s Word to an individual’s life and its many challenges. Although God grants these gifts to those who become His public servants, let us not think that pastors and teachers are the only ones who have them.
“To another faith by the same Spirit.” This is not referring to saving faith, for that is given to every believer. However, some believers are given an extraordinary faith or trust which calmly depends upon God through thick and thin. What a blessed influence such believers can have on their fellow believers.
“To another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits.” What vital gifts for the life of the congregation—the ability to proclaim the truth, recognize error, and thus preserve the congregation from false teachers.
Other gifts of the Spirit such as “gifts of healings,” “miracles,” and “different kinds of tongues” serve a special purpose at a specific time, and the Holy Spirit decides when and where they are needed. In the book of Acts we can see that these gifts served as evidence that the apostles were sent by God. The healings also showed God’s love and care for His people—which He often provides today through increased knowledge in the field of medicine. Skills in foreign languages are valuable tools for preaching the Word in the whole world.
May each of us thank God for the specific gifts the Spirit has given us and seek to develop and use them for God’s glory!