Summary: We are to acknowledge the significance of our gifts.
Last time I spoke, we looked at 1 Peter 4:10-11. We saw that God has empowered each one of us to engage, He gave us spiritual gifts, so that we can express love to others and exalt God. Now, let us open our Bibles in 1 Corinthians as we continue our series on spiritual gifts. Here we will see that by the Spirit’s sovereign choice, every believer is uniquely gifted to serve his or her place in the Body of Christ.
The Corinthian church was far from perfect. In fact, it was so immature. Yet, that church was full of potential. Look at how Paul described the church in 1 Corinthians 1:5-7. “For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” Note the words “enriched in every way” and “you do not lack any spiritual gift”. It was such a gifted church. However, look at 1 Corinthians 12:1. “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” They were so gifted yet they were ignorant about it. The church was full of promise. But it remained just that… full of promise. That’s one of my fears in life. That I would miss out on God’s best for my life. That I would fail to live my life the way God intended it to be. One way of making the most of our lives is by discovering and developing our spiritual gifts. Thus, we are to ACKNOWLEDGE the SIGNIFICANCE of our gifts.
Note the words, “Now about…” One of the reasons Paul wrote to the Corinthians is in response to a letter the church sent to the apostle. In 1 Corinthians 7:1 we read: “Now for the matters you wrote about…” We don’t have a copy of that letter but we can guess its contents based on Paul’s reply. They asked him about marriage and remarriage, celibacy and divorce, food offered to idols, issues in worship, the resurrection, the offering for Jerusalem and spiritual gifts. In our passage, Paul specifically expressed his concern: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” Think about it. Remember these are the words of God, not just the words of Paul. God does not want us to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. Three times in this letter Paul warned about the things that the Corinthian believers should not be ignorant about. We already saw it here in chapter 12 verse 1. In chapter 10 verse 1, he wrote that “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact…” then he went on to recount the history of Israel. In verse 6, he wrote, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” In chapter 15 verse 34, he warned against ignorance on the resurrection. “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” The Message version goes like this: “Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these. Aren’t you embarrassed that you’ve let this kind of thing go on as long as you have?” Really, ignorance is a serious matter before God. It is a shameful thing. Now, why is it that God doesn’t want us to be ignorant about spiritual gifts?
First, we should be aware that COUNTERFEIT gifts abound. Let us read chapter 12 verses 2-3. “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” In other words, these counterfeit gifts are a curse rather than a blessing. There are also those who claim that they are modern-day apostles. They think they are representing God. But the devil actually deceived them. Time and again the Bible warned us against signs and wonders from the devil. There are so-called manifestations of the Spirit that are not Biblical such as the laughing revival and other weird stuffs. We need to know what the Bible actually teaches about the spiritual gifts so that we can only experience the real thing.
Second, we need to address CONFUSION about spiritual gifts. Some excuse themselves from serving because they say they are not gifted to do a certain ministry task. Of course, we will be more effective when we serve according to our gifting. But, we can also serve where we are needed. There are others who are clueless about their gifts that they just sit on the pews and wonder if that is all the Christian life has to offer. They then miss out on the blessing of serving on the basis of the strength God gave us. At times, we compare ourselves with others and end up feeling inferior. Look at 1 Corinthian 12:15-16. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” Next week, I pray that we will learn to appreciate our place in the body of Christ, the church.