11 If you, then,
though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much
more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt
Isn’t it true that each of us enjoys getting a gift,
especially a surprise gift when it is least expected? A gift expresses different emotions such as
love, friendship, admiration, gratitude or respect but is universal in its
overall message of a desire to convey happiness to the recipient. Additionally,
there is generally a specific purpose behind the gift.
Spiritual gifts given God are similar to gifts exchanged
between loved ones; these gifts are an expression of love and have a specific
purpose behind the gift. In a way, a
spiritual gift can be analogized to a “welcome home” or graduation gift;
spiritual gifts are God’s expressions of His love (and welcoming) of the
believer into a new life through salvation with a new purpose and the new
believer’s “graduation” from his old unrepentant life.
The concept of a spiritual gift differs from that of a
talent. The Bible makes it clear that a
spiritual gift is given by God and received by the new believer with the
salvation experience and differs from a talent which is essentially an aptitude
or a skill developed through practice and repetition. They differ from each other in origin,
essence and purpose.
7 But to each one of
us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
"When he ascended
on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." * * *
11 It was he who gave
some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to
be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so
that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the
faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to
the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:7, 8, 11-13 (NIV)
With the ascension of Jesus Christ following His crucifixion
and resurrection and the advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost,
gifts were bestowed upon His followers.
These gifts first manifested themselves as the ability to speak in
tongues or other languages specifically for the benefit of the body of
believers who could not otherwise understand the language of the region. This initial gift on the day of Pentecost
came as a “rushing wind” and appeared as “tongues of fire” on each of the heads
of the anointed.
2:1 When the day of
Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like
the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where
they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated
and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts
Later, it became clear that different gifts are given to
God’s people according to God’s grace.
These gifts are bestowed upon believers for specific purposes.
6 We have different
gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him
use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is
teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is
contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is
leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it
cheerfully. Rom 12:6-8 (NIV)
In 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, there is an extensive discussion
concerning gifts of the Spirit and this discussion establishes certain defining
principles concerning these gifts. These
are different kinds of gifts but they come from the same Spirit.
gift is given for the common good.
as there are many parts to the body, there are many gifts but similarly,
there is one body both physically and spiritually.
arranged all of the parts of the body just as He wanted them to be.
part is more important than another.
should be no dissension in the body but instead, each part should be
equally concerned for the other parts.
- If one
part suffers, all of the other parts suffer with it; if one part is
honored, the other parts rejoice with it.
i.e. the saved, the born again, are the body of Christ, and each one is a
part of it.
The list of gifts contained within the Scriptures is quite
extensive and includes prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging,
contributing to the needs of others, giving generously, leadership, showing mercy, the message of
wisdom, discernment, the message of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous
powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds
of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
Each of these gifts has a place and a purpose in furthering the Kingdom of God.
The last verse in the 12th Chapter of 1
Corinthians makes a statement that is not just transitional in nature but
indicative of the importance of the coming material:
And now I will show
you the most excellent way. 1 Cor. 12:31
This statement is the preface to 1 Corinthians 13 which is
commonly known as the “love chapter” of the Bible. A reading of this chapter specifically
identifies love as the greatest quality that can be possessed by man. The ending verse of this chapter is very
13 And now these three
remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13 (NIV)
This chapter directly falls in line with Christ’s teachings
that (1) the greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God and (2) the
second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself; every other
law rested on these two commandments.
Cf. Matt 22:34-40 (NIV).
If these passages make it clear that we have received certain
spiritual gifts through the grace of God for His purpose and that these gifts
are to be exercised in love, then what is the purpose?
That question is answered in Paul’s letter to Corinth.
12 So it is with you.
Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build
up the church. 1 Cor. 14:12 (NIV)
Accordingly, we should excel in gifts that build up the
church. The concept of the church does
not apply to a particular edifice built of brick, stone or mortar but rather to
the body of believers. We are to build
up the body of believers by using our spiritual gifts. The building up of the body of believers is
especially crucial during the last days, or end times, as Christ foretold. It is important that during these times the church
remains strong in its witness and
its commitment to the cause of Christ.
As time grows short, the gift of discernment plays a vital
role in the fulfillment of the church’s purpose. Discernment allows the church body to realize
and understand the big picture, if you will, of God’s plan as He accomplishes
His will on earth. There are too many
church goers today who are simply satisfied with their everyday routine and who
do not pay attention to the eternal battle that is being waged all around them. This is where discernment steps in and
provides an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.
I’ve always been told that if you are going to dream, then
dream big. Imagine a body of committed believers
building each other up by exercising spiritual gifts bestowed by God according
to His grace! What if each member of the
body of Christ was intent upon discovering and developing his or her gifts and
then using those gifts for the common good of the body? I believe the results would be unimaginable
or simply put, miraculous.
Those gifts can be discovered through prayer and the leading
of the Holy Spirit. You need to ask God
to reveal His bestowed gifts to you and for the Holy Spirit to lead you in
discovering and developing those gifts.
You should ask yourself what you are being drawn to in serving/building
up the body of believers. Clearly, each
believer receives a gift(s) when the gift of salvation is received (Eph.
2:8-9); it is up to the believer to then exercise that gift(s).
Finally, what would be the result if each and every believer
exercised his or her spiritual gift?
That answer is given to us.
14 Then we will no
longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there
by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their
deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all
things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every
supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its
work. Eph. 4:14-16 (NIV)
The result would be the power of God loosed upon the world
made manifest through the Holy Spirit and the exercise of those spiritual gifts
given to the Christian body. Each member
of the body would be grounded and stable in their faith and commitment. Every believer would be speaking and acting
in love, supporting each other and building the church or body of believers as
each Christian did his work. The church
body as a whole would discern and understand God’s will and purpose during
these end times and would work to further the advancement of His kingdom on
earth. What an awesome display that
would be! What a testimony to the power
and glory of God!
Comments or questions may be directed to the author at email@example.com.