Okay, let's take the whole Jesus-salvation-hope-heaven answers off the board and then answer the question again! Most have a long list of gifts. These gifts are hard to compare because they are so precious to us and come to us from so many different areas of our lives.
Donna and I recently returned from an orphanage of over 800 children. They are very thankful for what they have — even though they have very little that is their own. These children reminded us of how much we take for granted and convicted us of the great blessings that we have.
If we take some time to look at our many blessings — even if we are going through a hard time — I believe we will be reminded of the words from the Bible:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 TNIV).
Built into the fabric of these good gifts is God's reminder that we have been blessed to share our blessings with others (Genesis 12:1-3). This is true of every gift we have received, but this is especially true of what we call "spiritual gifts":
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).
Yet like selfish children who fuss and fight over our gifts, God's family has repeatedly fought and divided over the very gifts that God has given us to bless each other! So as part of our SpiritFire series, I'd like to share 7 convictions about spiritual gifts. Rather than fight over them, please pick up your Bible and spend some time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help you discern whether they are true and how important they should be in thinking about the specifics of spiritual gifts. Many people from different backgrounds of Christian faith share most, if not all, of these 7 convictions.
- We each are given a spiritual gift to use to honor Jesus and build up His church (1 Peter 4:10). Each of us is an original masterpiece of the Creator (Ephesians 2:10), who placed his SIGnature on each of us. By SIGnature, I'm talking about how God gave us each certain STRENGTHS (traits or talents) when he created us in our mother's womb, developed our INTERESTS in certain things through the experiences of our lives (Romans 8:28), and gave each of us spirit GIFTS to use in his family (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
- God is sovereign — whether we refer to God as Father, Son/Lord, or Holy Spirit. The passages on spiritual gifts emphasize that God gives these gifts as He chooses, when He chooses, how he chooses, and to whom He chooses. Each key passage on spiritual gifts emphasizes that God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts as part of that sovereignty (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:7-16). We must be careful to not let our doctrinal conclusions limit the sovereignty of God in giving these gifts.
- Jesus gives spiritual gifts according to needs of the Body to help it function as His presence on earth (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7-16). The church should be the second incarnation — Jesus' bodily presence on earth. For that to happen, each of us needs to use our different gifts so that working together, we can live out this mission.
- Spiritual gifts are given to help us glorify God and to serve each other, as we reflect God's love of diversity and harmony, and as each part works together (1 Peter 4:10-11; Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
- No gift should be used as the litmus test of someone's spirituality (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:11-31). In fact, Paul makes clear that no gift should make us feel more important than other believers who have another gift — this is the core of Paul's argument when he talks about us all being important parts of Jesus' body in the world.
- Spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit are not the same thing (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We all have different spiritual gifts, but we are all to mature to become more like Jesus, growing in the same fruit of the Spirit that reflects the nature and character of Christ.
- Love is the most important character quality in using our gifts (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12:3-5; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:8). All spiritual gifts will pass away, but faith, hope, and love will endure — and the greatest of these is love.
While we may have specific questions about spiritual gifts, let's keep coming back to these key principles and keep reading the Scriptures associated with them. Our answers to specific questions should be guided, corrected, connected, negated, and confirmed by these principles that most of us share in common. Let's also rejoice that God has gifted us, gifted our church family, and gifted the church the world over with such great spiritual blessings!
Why do you think there has been so much quarreling about spiritual gifts in today's church?
Read 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 and answer the following questions:
- What is the most important principle of chapter 12?
- What is the most important principle of chapter 13?
- What is the most important principle of chapter 14?
Compare what is said there with what is said in 1 Peter 4:8-11:
- Which is easier to understand?
- How does love play a primary role in both sets of passages?
When you read Romans chapter 12, what do you think is Paul's major point?
What do you think is the major point made about spiritual gifts?
What are 2 primary things you believe you learned from you reading on spiritual gifts?