Matching Gifts to Grace (I Cor 12: 7-11)
The Key to understanding the nature of spiritual gifts is to understand God’s reason for giving them. How God gives them or what power they contain is not for us to worry about or try to manipulate. God’s design for gifting us, is that we would serve the good of others. Speculation about what powers we might have or how we can manipulate them is useless. The outcome of the practice of the gifts should be the manifestation of the fruit of the Holy Spirit within the particular body of Christ we find ourselves in. With that in mind, let’s look at the various gifts.
Each gift should exhibit or cause to exhibit one aspect of Spiritual Fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and /or self-control.
The first group of gifts we see in 1Cor 12 is in v7. We see that there is the gift of words of wisdom that are expressed through prudent intelligence and from wisdom gained through experience. Notice that both are valuable and are not necessarily mutually exclusive. All are used for the common good, not for personal aggrandizement.
The second grouping which are said to be another of the same kind, are faith, healing, prophecy (which is not foretelling events or the future) as well as the ability to do miracles with power. This group is a ministry that is used in individual circumstances and is not to be used as a dog and pony show for unbelievers to be visibly impressed with God. Remember, even Jesus, when a sign was demanded of Him said that no sign would be given except the sign of Jonah. Using gifts for impressing others really has nothing to do with God…it’s self absorption.
The third grouping is a distinguishing of spirits and the ability to speak foreign languages. Now before we go off into a fluff about this, remember these are not Gnostic or secret languages. They are known and documented languages that other people groups speak. We go a little wacky when we claim to speak some new language that no one else knows….that is more Gnostic, a heresy that Jesus and many apostles opposed. It is not a sound doctrine.
Each group, when used in a group of people, with all persons having some sort of gifting will harmonize and show the fruit of the spirit within the group. That harmony will show others that this particular body of Christ is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness AND self-control: which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The combined effect is the witness, not the gifts themselves.
In Contrast, everyone putting on a “look at me” show to impress others with their skills and abilities, creates the opposite traits as seen in verses Galatians 5:16-21. It is the fruit of flesh, not the Holy Spirit.
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Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, online, via teleconference. The person to call when your faith hits the wall. Sign up for a Free Newsletter! www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com