Today’s Reading: Numbers 22-25; Psalm 53-54; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:13
Let’s be honest, how many of us have seriously contemplated the craziness that are the spiritual gifts?
The God of the universe actually gives supernatural giftings to His people. In scripture we see people healing others, performing miracles, speaking in tongues or other languages, etc. We see people prophesy over others and foretell future events.
Spiritual gifts are crazy, and often people who have not placed their faith in Jesus also think we are crazy for believing that God does for His people.
Sometimes this happens just because of the naturalistic worldview that a lot of people bring to the bible. Miracles are impossible, therefore if the bible says a miracle happens, it must not have and it’s simply a literary device.
Other times it’s because people have experienced Christians who have gone overboard on the whole spiritual gift thing. Someone comes up to them and claims to have been told something by God only to be totally discouraged when the opposite happens. Or take for instance the recent discovery of a huge church in South Africa where the church reportedly paid people to act as if they had been healed by the pastor there…
Which ever the case may be, we in the west can have a difficult time wrapping our minds around the whole spiritual gifts thing because of our naturalistic and materialistic worldview and also because of the abuses and overemphasis placed on them by some brothers and sisters.
So in our passage today, Paul actually lays down the whole foundation for how it is we ought to practice the supernatural gifts the Spirit of God gives to His people.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul teaches the Corinthians about how crucial unity is for the church, particularly in relation to the spiritual gifts. Evidently, some were claiming they weren’t needed in the body and others were claiming others weren’t worthy to be a part of the body all because not everyone had the same spiritual gifts.
Paul starts off by saying, “for just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews and Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
For Paul, the main thing is that we all, though we were given different gifts, are a part of the same body. We were all baptized into Christ, we were all filled with one Spirit, we are all unified to be one body, the Church.
So Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians about how each member of the body is needed and when one member hurts, we all hurt; when one member celebrates, we all celebrate; when one is in need, we all respond to care for that person, etc. We are one, so we can’t claim that just because so and so doesn’t have this gifting they aren’t as important or just because I don’t have such and such gifting, I’m not as necessary to the body.
But Paul shifts gears from talking about unity and the spiritual gifts to an even greater gift, an even greater way to be unified together and live.
What is that greater way, what is that greater gift?
1 Corinthians 13 says it’s love.
Love is the very attitude and posture of the soul that brings about all fruit of the Spirit. You can’t be patient or kind without having love. You can’t resist and ward off resentment if you don’t have love. You can’t rejoice with others if you don’t have love. You can’t insist on your own way when you have love.
Love is the very fabric that unifies believers together and that source of love is Christ Himself.
Jesus paid it all on the cross for us and has given us His Spirit so that we might be bound together for eternity. We are unified by one Spirit, who empowers and transforms our hearts to grow in love for each other as Christ has loved us.
The truth of the matter is that spiritual gifts will pass away. Soon we won’t have a need for prophecy. Soon we won’t have a need for tongues. Soon we won’t have a need for knowledge. We won’t need these special giftings that reveal and assist us in sharing the gospel because we will be in God’s imminent presence when Jesus comes again and makes all things new.
The major thing is love. That is how we are to relate to one another as the church. Love is the highest gift and the highest road to take.
In the meantime, God did give us spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up the church and cooperating together for the purpose of spreading the good news of Jesus. What that means is that we need to be unified together, not promoting others over others or pushing ourselves under others just because we have different giftings. The truth of the matter is that the gifts were meant to be exercised in love for the body, so let us do so.
Take some time to think about the spiritual gifts that God has given you. At the church that I serve at, members take a spiritual gifts assessment. What we desire is that they would use these gifts for the purpose of the body and living out the mission God has given us.
I encourage you to look at what your gifts are and then to act on them today. Pick one gift and one way you can exercise it today. The term “spiritual” in spiritual gifts means that the Spirit works in a special way through that gifting in you. So even when it’s hard to motivate ourselves to practice them, we need to trust that the Spirit is at work, even when we don’t see “results” as we would want to. Build up the body of Christ, live the mission empowered by the Spirit and covered by the blood of Jesus.
Tomorrow’s Readings: Numbers 26-27; Psalm 55; 1 Corinthians 14