Summary: The gifts of the Spirit Operate best in the atmophere of Love. They are used to build the lives of believers to the glory of God and good of all people.
Intro: In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus.
"These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."
"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can’t you guys get organized like that?" (Charles Schultz - writer of the comic strip Peanuts)
Before we look at the specific spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit brings to each of His children we need to understand the atmosphere that they work best in. Paul is clear that love is the atmosphere where Spiritual gifts can breathe and bring glory to God with the greatest efficiency. Unity is brought about by the working of God’s vision, mission, and plan for us by the Holy Spirits working in us. Remember last time a Spiritual Gift is the Holy Spirits visible activity in our lives.
There can be union without unity - You may tie the tails of a cat and a dog together by a rope and have union, but you surely don’t have unity!
The first purpose of the Spiritual gifts is to give Glory to God the second purpose is to bind us together as one body to produce a complete picture of Jesus Christ. We are called the body of Christ by Paul because it takes every single part of that body to give an accurate picture of Jesus.
I. The gifts are supposed to build unity (2 Corinthians 12:25-26)
The spiritual gifts are designed and distributed to the body of Christ so that we can work together. I am going to say something hard. If you are not promoting unity you are probably grieving the Spirit of God.
What has to happen in the body of believers (that is you and me) for unity to be the rule and not the exception? There must be a concern for the rest of those in the body that overrules self-concern.
1 Corinthians 12:24-25 “But our presentable parts have no need of clothing. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25 so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
Philippians 2.3-4 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Warren Wiersbe said the secret of our joy in spite of circumstances is maintaining a single mind and the secret of joy in spite of people is maintaining a submissive mind. Chapter 1of Philippians we fin Christ first, in chapter 2 we find others next, and then lastly yourself. It is a good order to maintain but a tall order to be consistent on. The secret is found in Philippians 4.13 Jesus is your strength for Joy.
The command is to do nothing from selfish ambition (rivalry) or conceit.
Selfish ambition pursues personal goals; empty conceit seeks personal glory and acclaim. The ambition deals with personal accomplishments; the conceit deals with an over inflated self-image. Ambition and conceit are the opposite of humility and concern. Understandably, a person with such conceit considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. The only unity he seeks or values is centered on himself.
So with all that said where does this unity come from? It comes from a true desire to decrease so that Jesus can increase and concern for others overrides our own selfish desires, dreams, and decisions. When the Spirit is working in you as God has gifted you a great concern for others is birthed and grows and unity is the desire of you heart.
II. The gifts are supposed to build maturity
A) Unity of the faith
The unity of the faith here is the shared understandings of the great truths of the Bible. The context here of “the faith” is what is believed not the act of believing. The definite article “the” points to the body of truth revealed in scripture especially the complete content of the gospel.
B) Knowledge of the son of God
It is the truth found in the scriptures and gospel that point us to the person of Jesus. This is not speaking of simply salvation knowledge. It is speaking of a deeper more personal intimate knowledge. It is the working of the Holy Spirit in your life with the truths of the scripture and trust of Jesus that will mature you. Don’t ever get discouraged in your desire to grow in a deeper knowledge of Jesus it is a lifelong journey and process. The process of being made in the image of Christ is not a destination in this life as much as a direction.