TO BUILD UP OR TO PUFF UP
Lord God, I have needs to bring before you today, but more than your provision, I want to connect with you in a special way.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Concerning Spiritual Gifts
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God that the one Holy Spirit gives diverse gifts to all.
We come to another controversial passage! If you know it well, I encourage you to lay aside preconceived ideas about spiritual gifts. Let’s aim to come to these verses afresh and hear what God is saying.
Notice, first, the many places in which Paul emphasizes unity. There is one Spirit who unites all believers under the lordship of Christ (vs 1–3). That same Spirit is the giver of all gifts (vs 4–6,11). Alongside this, there is diversity. There are many different gifts (vs 7–10). Those mentioned here are not exhaustive, for other passages list other gifts.1 Crucially, these gifts are for the ‘common good’ (v 7), a point that lies at the heart of this passage and ties together the emphases on unity and diversity. This is foundational teaching about spiritual gifts. It is vital that disciples of Jesus are not ‘uninformed’ (v 1).
We can apply these verses in two ways. First, be clear that there is no room for boasting about spiritual gifts. The very name ‘spiritual gifts’ (charismata) could be translated ‘gifts of grace’. If the Spirit gives graciously to each one as he wills, then a showy, self-serving practice of any gift is a nonsense. The second point is linked to the first: we are to use our gifts in the service of others. The order of gifts is instructive here. Speaking in tongues is surely listed toward the end because the speech is unintelligible to the gathering unless an interpreter is present.2 Paul isn’t denigrating speaking in tongues, but he does want to exalt those gifts which are most beneficial to others. What gifts has God given you? Whatever they may be, let’s not misuse them to puff ourselves up. Rather, let’s use them to build up the body of Christ.
We are to use our gifts for the benefit of others. Think of some practical, concrete ways you can put this truth into action.
Dear Lord, thank you for spiritual gifts given to me. I want to use them to strengthen the body of Christ for your glory.
1 Eg Eph 4:11; Gal 5:22,23; Rom 12:6–8 2 1 Cor 14:5
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