Summary: Actions we can take to be faithful to God’s design for using spiritual gifts.
…no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 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 the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3b - 13 (NRSVA)
In the 60’s, the Age of Aquarius, an age of so-called enlightenment, harmony and understanding, people often asked the question, What’s your sign? The question was an attempt to find out about you – your personality traits.
In astrology, the twelve houses of the Zodiac, your birth date identifies what position the stars occupied (relative to earth) when you were born. Astrologers believe that determines what pathway your life will follow, who you will marry, what you will do for a living, and when you will die. Everything – according to Madame Zahra – is in the stars!
The longer you live, the more you will realize not many things change; the sixties was not a new movement, but an old paganism revisited. It was the religion of Nimrod. Nimrod was the king of what we now call “Iraq”; he built the tower of Babel (Genesis 10). The tower was supposed to set this tribal lord up high –the stars held all the power. Like Sadaam Hussein, Nimrod wanted to be God. He wasn’t!
But we still have Nimrod’s followers in the new millennium. They are on the Internet, TV and radio. You can recognize their identifying marks: a deck of Tarrot cards and a 1-900 number. What they control is your pocket book! They ask, what’s your sign – AND your PIN number!
If the pagans ask what’s your sign, in Christian circles you’re liable to be asked What’s your gift? The question is about spiritual gifts; the question is both good and bad.
• What’s your gift is a bad question when we are talking about Christians identifying themselves with gifts that are more noticeable or popular. It is a kind of competitive-edge thing, or spiritual merit badge collection. To show off our gifts is a sign of pride.
• On the other hand, what’s your gift is a good question when the answer is surrounded by a prayer, Lord; show me how I can be helpful in Your Kingdom.
It is something which should happen frequently in churches. The conversation begins, Pastor, I wonder if there is any part of ministry around here that can use some help. The pastor’s response is, (help me now), What’s your gift?
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers to help them understand the gifts of God’s Spirit. He asked them to remember their pagan past. They had been steeped in idol worship. In that day ecstatic frenzies were part of temple idol worship. Worship that is entirely emotion-driven can wind up in some pretty wild stuff!
Do you recall the Canadian-born laughing revival? The phenomenon came out of a sincere desire for more joy in the Christian community. However, it wound-up a laughing stock (literally), as people simply sat giggling, rolling in the aisles, some running and laughing wildly during “worship”. It was an emotional frenzy, not a God-honoring time of praise.
So-called “spirit-filled” churches that are really emotionally-driven parties need to check up on their motivation and inspiration to see if their purpose is to glorify God, or to have a great time.
Methodists, on the whole, are not in any danger of going off that kind of emotional edge. But, on the other end of the spectrum you do have some extremely formal churches that need to check for a pulse – to see if the Spirit has departed.
Either way – when it comes to spiritual gifts and their use, the main key is: Is there any God in it? An easy way to do inventory on that is to have an honesty check to see how much of “me is in it”. The simple equation has always been, the more of men there is in anything, the less there is of God!