“Not for Personal Use: The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts”
Contrary to some opinions, the purpose of Spiritual Gifts God gives to believers, is not useful for impressing others about how spiritual one is. The gifts are to reflect the giver-God. However, God’s idea of what should come out of these gifts is often left aside and given short shrift.
Let’s look at what may be God’s purpose for humans as a whole, specifically Christians. Then we will extrapolate that idea into a completely new way of looking at why we have those gifts and how we should use them.
God’s purpose for man is to love and enjoy Him forever. He accomplishes that by redeeming us through Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, as well as His example of how to live as a Kingdom citizen. God has also given us the ministry of His Holy Spirit, who guides us and convicts us when we move away from His best for us. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee that God is not finished with us yet and that He will accomplish the purpose that He has for us (Phil. 1:6). His purpose is to make us like Christ.
One of the things God asks us to do is to follow Christ’s model of His Kingdom in the Church and in the world. He gives us the ability to carry out that task by giving us spiritual gifts. If rightly used, those gifts will produce the fruit of the Spirit of God, which is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.
The fruit of the Spirit is not simply an individual pursuit. It is to be collectively visible in our Churches and communities as an example of the Trinity and their perfect union. It doesn’t take much observation to see that the gifts He gives His children are often used for self aggrandizement, rather than to promote unity and love in serving others. Sometimes the gifts are used as if they are a special knowledge or “gnostic,” it shows that the people who use them are somehow more spiritual. This is the wrong use of the gifts. The gifts point the outside world to God. At other times, as we hear Paul talk about, the gifts are used in strange and occult-like ways that scare people away rather than attract them.
In the next few weeks, we will look at each gift and see how it relates to the Fruit of the Spirit. The Kingdom of God, that Christ brought when He came, demands a different perspective than the world gives. Contrary to popular opinion, the gifts are not given so that we can try to impress each other with our “special favor from God.” This is a perversion of God’s purpose for us. It honors self and not God. We shall see that there is a connection, and that God expects these gifts to be used for Him and not for personal use.