Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 8): 1 Cor 12:8-10

"For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Paul enumerates many of the various manifestations of the Spirit given to us as a result of the gratuitous favor of God; what we typically refer to as the Gifts of the Spirit. However, there is one interesting note in this list where Paul lists "gifts of healing". He does not say "gift of healing" but "gifts", plural. He repeats this again in verses 28 and 30 of the same chapter; always in the plural. We normally think of the gifts of the Spirit as something we have received, such as the "gift of healing" being our ability to heal. However, in listing "gifts of healing" Paul is identifying the "gifts" as not something we receive but rather something we give away. In this case the "gift" is the healing, not our ability to give.

The gifts of the Spirit are not about what we receive but what we give away. They are not gifts because we have received some special endowment or ability from God, they are gifts because of the grace and blessing they bring to the people who receive them; the gifts of healing are gifts to those who are healed. If we can grasp this truth then it will revolutionize how we view ministry and our giftings from God. It is not that we have the "gift of prophesy" but the gift is the prophesy that is given to an individual, group, or church. The gift is not that we receive words of knowledge but it is the gift of grace and deliverance that such a word of knowledge imparts to those that receive it. The "gift" is what is given, not what is received.

Many years ago, while in worship, I had this image in my mind. I was standing there holding a box with a label on it that said "Grace". Inside the box was many individually wrapped gifts. One said "Prophesy", another said "Healing", another "Word of Knowledge", and so on. I saw myself walking about and handing out the gifts to those who had need. Prophesy to those who needed prophesy, healing to those in need of healing, and the word of knowledge to those who need knowledge from God. In the end, I was the same person, I was not the possessors of the gifts, merely the deliverer. I was simply delivering gifts given to me that were meant for someone else. It had nothing to do with me; it was all about what God wanted to give to someone else. The privilege was simply being allowed to participate in God's blessing and provision for another. Simply having a part in God's blessing was sufficient. It was like what John the Baptist said,

"'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:28-30)
More to come... David Robison

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