Unity in Diversity: The Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts


Ephesians 4


Paul tells us that the grand purpose of a Christian’s walk individually and corporately is to promote spiritual unity and peace (shalom). The entire church is a representation of one body; the body of Christ and as such should act in a coherent and unified fashion. Ego’s and individual personalities that have to have attention are antithetical to and look ridiculous in the functioning of the Church. As in last week’s study, we see that acting in ways that make a person seem spiritually weird does not draw but rather repels unbelievers; therefore, it is not something to promote.


While being spiritually weird is off limits that does not say that a person’s individual personality or creativity should be squelched. The unity of the body contains a great diversity of gifts that were bestowed on us by God (Ephesians 4:7-11; Psalm 68:18). God made us in His image and expects that we will use the creativity and intelligence that He gave us to the fullest advantage. The advantage, however, should not be for our own glory, but God’s, and should be purposeful in the spiritual maturation or discipleship of the church to grow into the fullness of Christ. Unfortunately, what often masquerades as spiritual gifts is more like a childish display of ego, than behavior that intentionally grows other believers. Paul says, in Ephesians 4:12-16, that we should not have childish instability, but rather an intentional body growing in union with Christ, its head.


One of the reasons for growing up and maturing and not staying as children is that children are easily fooled. When dealing with spiritual gifts, sent by God to accomplish His purposes, one must use wisdom. That wisdom only comes from God and He is not inclined to give that wisdom to fools.


Many of the gifts are used and then are of no use. An example of this is found in Hebrews 1, where it says that the prophetic ministry of the Old Testament was overtaken by the ministry of Christ, whose life the prophets foretold. Additionally we have the Bible, which was not available as widely as it is now, so we do not depend on town criers or people to come to us to get that news.


We will see later that Paul says that the gifts will fade, but love never will. The things we should be concerned about here, is our relationship to Christ and to each other, more than what we think we bring to the table.


Whatever gifts we have are given to us in the moment to accomplish the purpose God has for us just then. God doesn’t bestow on us gifts that we can then go and use for our own benefit. For example, God may use His servant to heal someone because that is what God wants for that particular time at that particular moment. A physician is that type of healer, some live, some don’t, however, God doesn’t just say, go around healing anyone you want and I am obligated to heal whomever you want healed; no, it doesn’t work that way.

God may give us the gift of wisdom, but it doesn’t mean one will always be wise. God will give that wisdom for that time and situation. In that way, we are always and in all ways dependent on Him. That’s the way it is supposed to be.


The purpose of the gifts, then is to honor God, build our body of believers so that they can in turn go out to be the Ambassadors that God has called everyone to be. We are to go out, not in, and we are to bring peace and not a dog and pony show. We are to be His representatives with His method, His message and His character: not ours.



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