Summary: Understanding Spiritual Gifts and how we trust and need the giver of the gift,The Holy Spirit has given you something that you are to give to everyone else.
What is your Spiritual Gift?
That is a question that I have been asked almost my entire life. It is a question that when I first got here I asked many of you. We want people to serve in the area of their “giftedness” and so we can spend a great deal of time, energy, and resources helping our church members determine their spiritual gift. Now I want you to understand that Scripture teaches there are spiritual gifts. It teaches that we should earnestly desire certain gifts of the Spirit like prophecy. But today’s passage is not trying to get you to ask, “What is my Spiritual Gift?” It is trying to get you to see the power behind your service.
Today’s passage is 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. As you turn to that passage, I want you to begin thinking of things that you are involved in within the church. As you think of the things you are involved in, I want you to begin thinking about HOW it is that you do these things. (Read Passage)
The people of Corinth had been deceived before. Paul reminds them that they were led to idols as objects of their worship. Now they know that the idols could not speak to them. Now they know that idols cannot see, or walk, or talk, or smell, or taste, or do anything at all. After being led down the wrong path once, how would the Corinthians know that they were heading down the right path now? This is a valid question for us today. Believe it or not, there are fads in the church. Things become popular. Programs come and go. With the rise of every new program comes a group of people who think it is the best thing since sliced bread, while others say it is of Satan. How are we to know? How can we tell when something is of God, and when something is trying to lead us to another dumb idol?
In verse 3 Paul gives us some help. See that “therefore” at the beginning. That tells us that we have to pay attention to what was said right before it. Paul is saying, because you were led to these false idols before, I now tell you what it looks like when something is of the Spirit of God. If it puts down Jesus Christ, if it curses the Son of God, then it is definitely not of the Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit work in perfect harmony with one another, and one part will not curse another. If it brings praises to the Son, declares Him to be Lord of all, then you can see the work of the Spirit. We can see this as saying, “Does it glorify God?” “Does it glorify the Son?” If something glorifies anything other than God, we are to have no part of it as it is probably leading us to something that is not real. But if it is declaring that Jesus is Lord, if he is the object of worship above all else, then we can be sure that God’s Spirit is behind it.
I would encourage you to use this standard against many philosophies of the world. Look at Relativism. It says it does not matter what you believe, as long as it works for you. Does this lift up Jesus, or push him to the side? Look at the New Age philosophy that says to find the truth you must look inside yourself. Does this lift up Jesus, or push him to the side? What about many religions around the world today that teach a system of beliefs that say if you work hard enough, do the right thing, then you can earn your way into heaven. Does this say Jesus is Lord of all, or does it say his death on the cross was not enough? If it does not glorify the Son, the Spirit is not in it.
Paul refuses to paint a picture of exactly what it looks like when the Holy Spirit is at work. We all know that the Lord works in mysterious ways. We do not always understand why He works the way He does. So instead, Paul gives a triad of statements that highlight the diversity of ways God works, but the unity of the Trinity. Verses 4-6 at a first reading might sound like Paul is repeating himself. It really helps here to look to the original language. In verse four you find the word gift. The Greek word behind this is “charisma” which means an unearned grace or gift of God. It is an ability, not just a talent, which is given to you by the Spirit of God. In verse 5 the word is “diakonia.” I hope when you hear that word you think “deacon” aka servant. The English word service, or ministry is meant here. These are the ministries or opportunities we are given to use the gift that we have been given. In verse 6 we have the word “energema” which is the working or operation of something. So put this together and you have the truth that God gives the gift, the opportunity to use it, and the power to put it into practice. But it is not just God the Father, but God in His completeness: The Same Spirit, The Same Lord, and The Same God.