Summary: Paul does not give us a listing of the gifts that is exhaustive. His list is only suggestive. Every time he writes of the gifts he mentions new ones. He is not dealing with a fixed number because he knows the Holy Spirit well enough to know that you cannot catch him in a list and limit him.
A college professor of debate thought it would be well for him to select some outstanding speaker and
learn everything he could about his life, his speeches, and his writings. He chose Patrick Henry as his
ideal. It was not long before the subject of Patrick Henry was becoming obnoxious to those around him. He became a man with a one track mind. All he talked about to friends and relatives, and in class, was
One night the debating society decided to play a joke on their obsessed professor. They decided to trap
him in a situation where his favorite topic would be irrelevant. At the meeting the chairman called the
group to order and said, "We would like our professor to give us a demonstration of extemporaneous
speech tonight. We are going to ask him to speak for 3 minutes on horse colic."
They thought they had him on the spot, but the professor stood; faced the group, and began: "What is
horse colic? Why, tis nothing but a ball of wind, roaming hither and thither within the abdominal confines
of the horse crying out 'give me liberty or give me death.'" And with that the professor was off again on
Almost everything can be interesting at some point, but almost nothing is interesting all the time.
People with one tracked minds bore us. We are not made for enjoying a rut where life is limited to one
theme, or one routine. We are made for variety. It was William Cowper, the great hymn writer, who gave
us There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood, and God Moves In A Mysterious Way, who coined the phrase,
"Variety if the spice of life." He didn't just make that up, he got it from the facts of nature and Scripture.
God is in infinite Spirit with a love for infinite variety in all that He does. Every leaf, every blade of grass,
every star and galaxy are all different. God did not crank out this universe like a machine stamping out
pieces of metal. He made it more like a master artist makes his painting.
Mrs. Dwight Morrow had a chain made by a well-known Mexican chain maker. She liked it so much
that she ordered six more just like it. He agreed only if she would pay a higher price for each chain he
made because making them all alike would be monotonous. Artists demand variety. They liked to put a
personal touch of difference into all that they make. How much more the Author of all art? An
anonymous poet put it-
What skill, O God, could equal Thine!
No two alike, in size or line,
In dome above, in sea or land,
Mid flaming worlds, or grains of sand,
And man hast made more wondrous far,
More varied than flower, bird, or star,
His very finger-tips design,
Reveals a loving skill divine.
Every once in a while we refer to some unique character and say, "When God made him He broke the
mold." The fact is, God never used the same mold twice for anybody. Every one is unique, and there is
no one else anywhere just like us. God is a God of infinite variety, and He always will be. C. S. Lewis
said, "Heaven will display far more variety than hell." No one will ever be bored in heaven. One of the
curses of hell will be the curse of never ending sameness, but heaven will be never ending variety. We do
not have to wait for heaven, however, for God has given us much variety on earth, and great variety
within the church. This is what Paul begins to express in verse 4. He emphasizes three times the variety
of gifts, and of service, and the variety of working. All of this variety comes from the same Lord. God is
the one source of all this variety in the body of Christ.
This truth has so many profound implications for our lives that even a partial grasp of it can change your attitudes and actions in many areas of life. One of the first things we need to look at is the problem
of the Corinthian church because of their failure to live the Christian life in the light of God's love for
variety. The same problem develops today in churches where some unique experience, such as speaking
in tongues, is emphasized. Just because this experience is so unique it appeals to many people as it did to
the Corinthians. They began to blow it all out of proportion and make it the key to spirituality. Since not
all of the members received this gift, those who did not were made to feel like inferior Christians, and they
had the feeling of not belonging.