Summary: We are to accept the sovereign choice of the Spirit in giving us gifts.
Have you ever been compared as child? Your parent said, “Why don’t you become like your older brother?” Or, have you ever been compared as an employee? Your boss said, “Why didn’t you close as much deals as this or that employee?” Did you like it when you were compared? Do you like being compared with others?
When it comes to spiritual gifts, we should not compare also. I think it was Rick Warren who said that we should avoid two extremes regarding spiritual gifts. The first is “gift-envy,” that is, we compare our gifts with others. Thus, we end up jealous of others or dissatisfied with the gift God gave us. The second extreme is “gift-projection,” that is, we expect other people to have our gift or do things as we do them. How do we avoid those two extremes? How do we deal with comparisons? Let us search for the answer as we continue our series on spiritual gifts, how God has empowered us to engage. Let us pray…
Last Sunday we saw that we are to ACKNOWLEDGE the significance of our gifts. First Corinthians 12:1 tell us, “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” God does not want us to be ignorant about our gifts. Now, let us read 1 Corinthians 12:4-13. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Note that in our passage including verse 3 that the “Spirit” is mentioned ten times. Look at verse 8: “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit”. Underline the words “through the Spirit” and “by means of the same Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the Source of spiritual gifts. Not only that, He is also the One Who decides who got what gift. Look at verse 11, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” Underline the clause “just as he determines.” That’s why we should avoid comparing our gifts with others or criticizing those who do not have the same gift as ours. We are to ACCEPT the SOVEREIGN CHOICE of the Spirit in giving us gifts. By the Spirit’s sovereign choice, every believer is uniquely gifted to serve his or her place in the Body of Christ.
Let us read verse 4: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” The Spirit knows what He is doing when He gave us those gifts. He has the right to choose which gifts goes to whom. Plus, He loves variety. There are various gifts. But there is only one Source. There is no reason to compare because there is nothing to compare.
When did we receive those gifts? Verse 13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Note first the clause: “and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Let us open our Bibles to John 7:37-39. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” So, after Jesus died, rose again and went up to heaven, those who would believe in him would receive the Spirit. That’s what drinking the Spirit means. So what 1 Corinthians 12:13 is talking about happened at the moment we put our trust in our Lord.