Summary: We will almost always miss out on something that God has for us if we try to limit the Holy Spirit, and fail to stress His love for infinite variety.
When Abraham Lincoln was a young lawyer in Springfield, he was approached by a man of wealth,
who wanted to hire him to collect a debt. It seems that the poor man who owed him the two dollars and
fifty cents denied the debt and refused to pay. Lincoln did not like the job, but after much persuasion he
agreed to take it if the man would pay his fee of ten dollars in cash. The client readily produced the ten
dollars. Lincoln then went to the poor man and gave him five dollars of the money on condition that he
would immediately pay the alleged debt. He agreed and did so. The rich man was delighted with the
quick results he got from his lawyer. Lincoln made five dollars easy money, and the poor man was two
fifty to the good instead of two fifty in debt.
Lincoln had the ability to take a case of conflict and turn it into a blessing for all concerned. This is
one of the primary purposes of the gift of wisdom in the body of Christ. Paul scolds the Corinthians for
going to law against one another. He says in 6:5, "Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough
to decide between members of the brotherhood?" Paul implies that every body of believers should have
someone with the gift of wisdom adequate to settle disputes among members. This gifted person would
always settle the dispute in a way far superior to a secular judge.
The first major conflict that developed in the early church had to do with the Greek complaint that
their widows were being neglected. The Hebrew Christians were in a majority, and they were showing
favoritism to their own widows and neglecting the widows of the minority. How did the 12 Apostles
handle this dispute? We read in Acts 6:3, "Pick out from among you 7 men of good repute, full of the
Spirit and of wisdom." This was the beginning of the office of deacons in the church. We see that wisdom
is the gift essential for those who are trouble-shooters and peacemakers in the body. By means of this gift
the Holy Spirit can add oil where friction threatens to break down the smooth operation of the body.
If you want to go deeper in your service to Christ, earnestly desire that God would give you wisdom.
Wisdom will make you a peacemaker in the body. It will enable you to give words of counsel to your
fellow Christians in conflict. It will enable you to give an answer to the world for the faith that is within
you. Wisdom is one of the higher gifts because it ministers to all in love. It is a hard gift to abuse and use
in a wrong way, and, therefore, we are to desire it earnestly.
Now lets look at the gift of knowledge. Most authors dealing with the gifts tend to underestimate the
working of the Holy Spirit. They limited this gift of knowledge to a supernatural receiving of information
that cannot be learned by human study. This is clearly one aspect of the gift of knowledge, but to stop
there is to make this gift such a rare specimen that it is almost as extinct as the dodo bird. Paul did not
even list this gift along with those that are possessed by just a few, and so we are justified in assuming that
this is one of the gifts available to all members in varying degrees. The highest degree is on the level of
the miraculous, but there are numerous gifts of knowledge on levels below that.
We will almost always miss out on something that God has for us if we try to limit the Holy Spirit,
and fail to stress His love for infinite variety. Dr. Criswell, who was pastor of First Baptist in Dallas,
stated a foundational truth when he said, "We all have differing gifts and differing degrees of the same
gifts." This is especially true as we study the gift of knowledge. It covers such a wide variety of
experiences that no translation can express them all. It is of interest to note how the Living Bible selects
the most down to earth and least supernatural aspect of the gift. It translates, "Someone else may be
especially good at studying and teaching..." this is portraying the gift almost on the level of a natural
talent, and some are critical of this, but the fact is, the gift of knowledge covers both the knowledge that
comes direct from God, and that which comes indirectly through the study of resources.
How do we know this for sure? It is because God used both in producing the Bible for His people,