“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.” That's what Paul the Apostle tells us.
"But, whoah, wait a minute," you say. "Hang on. I’ve never thought about gifts that way. From the Spirit, really?”
Well, yes – really! That’s what Paul was telling the people in Corinth.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Hmm … And what does that mean? Just what does that mean?
Well, Paul goes on to say:
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.
And you might then say to yourself, “Well that’s all and very good for St Paul, after all he’s a Saint, but I don’t go around uttering wisdom. I don’t do utterances of knowledge either. I try to have faith--not sure I’ve been connecting that with the Holy Spirit though. I never think I’m doing any healing: I’m not a doctor."
"And how about working miracles? I haven’t performed any miracles. I don’t prophecy. I don’t do discernments. Tongues, isn’t that for holy rollers?"
"Do I have any of these gifts of the Spirit?", any of us could ask.
When we listen to what Paul says, the answer according to him is ‘yes’, we do have gifts of the Spirit.
“All these [gifts] are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses," Paul writes.
…. Just as the Spirit chooses, eh.
“Well, I guess the Spirit didn’t choose me.” You can see how a person may feel that way.
But wait, there's another way to look at the gifts of the Spirit.
The people of Corinth weren’t sophisticated. They lived in a little town outside Athens. They were just ordinary people, probably a lot like you and I. And, when you think about it, the Apostles themselves were all pretty much down-to-earth people too from humble backgrounds. Look what they experienced. In the Book of Acts it says:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? --in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power.
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?
Maybe just like you and I wonder. What does this mean?
In another letter, one sent to the people of Ephesus (a town in modern day Turkey), a follower of Paul wrote in Paul’s name to the church in that place—the Letter to the Ephesians.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
What do you think?
“Apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers… to be working for building up the Body of Christ and equipping the saints – the faithful.”
You can do that.
And I bet you are doing that. I’d say you are doing that because you are touched by the Holy Spirit. That experience may not be as fiery or as magnificent as on the very Day of Pentecost. It may be softer now, more subtle.
The Holy Spirit moves in our midst at times like a soft breeze; at times like a stronger wind. It’s feeling the gentle breeze that’s important, its ebb and flow.
Healing is not just for physicians. Making sense about the future is not just for the Prophets of old. Miracles don’t all have to be as sensational as changing water into wine. Sharing the good news doesn’t mean you have to write a gospel. And speaking in tongues may not be as ecstatic as one might first think. Being able to discern things may be just persisting in figuring out what is really going on in life and the world – cutting through the noise.
So, ponder it for a moment.
I know that you are working for building up the Body of Christ and equipping the saints. You’re a saint. And our community is one of saints. All people of faith are the saints (small ‘s’.).
I know that your faith is a core value in your life-journey. And I know that you do have a sense of calling. That's why you follow Jesus.
How does that go together with gifts of the Spirit and with building up the Body of Christ – the Church in the world? How do we equip the saints for ministry?
You know, when you help a person who is hurting, you are contributing to their healing. Then, you're a healer. When you dig into the wisdom of your experiences, you have knowledge to share. You can be a prophet. When you journey with someone through the darkest of times and you guide them toward hope, you are working a miracle. When you model the teachings of Jesus in your relationships and interactions, you are evangelizing; you’re an apostle; you’re teaching. When you persist in seeing through the distractions and the trickery of the world and the clamor of the media, you are discerning spirits.
The Holy Spirit touches you. And the Holy Spirit bestows gifts upon you.
So, think about it.
How do the gifts you have of the Spirit help you in building the Body of Christ and in equipping the saints? Maybe you have gifts yet to discover.
So know this: you do have gifts of the Spirit.
Be open to feeling the breeze of the Holy Spirit in your life. Be open to the ebb and flow of the Spirit’s guidance when it may be pushing or pulling.
Remember what Paul tells us: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. ... [T]here 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.”