FRIDAY, MARCH 16
SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 12
Those of us who are familiar with the Bible, particularly the New Testament, probably connect 1 Corinthians 12 with the topic that we have before us today. The book obviously has a lot to say about a lot of things, but we often make a strong connection between 1 Corinthians and spiritual gifts.
When the chapter opens, Paul says “Now concerning spiritual gifts”. There are a couple of things here that might be of importance. One, it appears this is another subject that the Corinthians addressed in their letter to Paul. Two, in the original language is it not specifically spiritual gifts but literally “spirituals”. The Greek word used here is Pneumatikon. This word is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts are the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will see this stated even more clearly in the following verses.
It then seems as if Paul changes subjects in verse 2 as he talks about the Corinthians lives before they were believers. He talks about how they were led by mute idols. In Corinth, the pagans did indeed worship a collection of idols. This worship included immorality and “ecstatic utterances”. Paul’s comment on this is anyone speaking against Jesus or claiming allegiance to Him is not the result of someone not being able to control what they said or how they said it. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit does direct our thoughts and then we choose what we say.
In the next few verses, Paul speaks of gifts, services, and activities. These could be seen as synonyms. But Paul also speaks of the Trinity in these same verses when he speaks of the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God. In other words, as Christ followers, we are influenced by the Holy Spirit, by Jesus, and by Father God. All three are at work in the lives of those who have been born again.
In verse 7 we discover where these spiritual gifts or spiritual abilities are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us. In other words, regardless of what gift you may have, that gift is proof of the Holy Spirit in you working to do what you could not do before you were saved.
This verse also says that spiritual gifts are for the common good. This means that we aren’t given spiritual gifts or abilities for our own sake or for our own good. These gifts/abilities are given to us to benefit others. Every time. Among other things that means when we are engaged using our gifts, the attention must be directed to the Lord and the benefit directed at others. If we use our gifts to get attention or benefit ourselves we have sinned against the divine plan of the Lord. Another important aspect of the use of gifts is they should always be used to build up the church and never cause confusion or chaos. God does not create confusion or chaos.
From there Paul gives us a partial list of the spiritual gifts. There are at least a couple of other places that we find similar but somewhat different lists. One is in Romans 12 and the other is in Ephesians 4.
In verse 12 Paul begins a masterful piece of analogy. He compares the church body to the human body. His point is that in the same way we are all have different physical body parts, we all also have different spiritual giftedness that puts us in the different places in the church body. And then his main point is that all of those different parts are not only designed by God but they are also very important. All of them.
Spiritual gifts are a remarkable work of God. Healthy churches practice the gifts as needed in healthy and holy ways that point to God and build up others. When that happens, the church flourishes. When that doesn’t happen in any aspect of what is directed by Scriptures, the church is injured.