There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.
The evidence of the Spirit’s presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone. The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak with wisdom. The same Spirit gives another person the ability to speak with knowledge. To another person the same Spirit gives courageous faith. To another person the same Spirit gives the ability to heal. Another can work miracles. Another can speak what God has revealed. Another can tell the difference between spirits. Another can speak in different kinds of languages. Another can interpret languages. There is only one Spirit who does all these things by giving what God wants to give to each person.
For example, the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ. By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether we are Jewish or Greek, slave or free, God gave all of us one Spirit to drink. (God’s Word Translation)
Being given a gift from someone is rightly associated with joy, celebration, goodness, and the possibility of what the gift is and how it might be used.
Unpacking Our Spiritual Gifts
And this is why we unpack gifts with curiosity and abandon. It would be weird if we were given a gift, then let it sit unopened. Instead, we typically receive the gift, rip it open, and express gratitude for the thoughtfulness. Then, we explore it, enjoy it, and use it.
The Spirit, likewise, has been marvelously given to God’s people. Each individual Christian is specially provided a gift to open, use, and enjoy. Spiritual gifts graciously given to us are meant for the common good of all. And this use for the common good is where the gift is different than Christmas presents or birthday gifts.
Spiritual gifts are designed by God to be acts and words of service, dispersed for the benefit of others. Yes, they are meant for us to enjoy them. Yet, they are not meant solely for personal satisfaction.
Using Our Spiritual Gifts
So, if a person’s spiritual gift is teaching, they do not stand in front of a mirror and talk at themselves. Rather, they jump into the fray of learning and explaining, and do it in such a gracious and loving way that the enablement of the Spirit is evident.
If a person’s gift is faith, they do not merely step out and act with unusual courage for the purpose of personal betterment in a holy belief from God. They also demonstrate faithfulness to God’s people and to God’s world. The gift is for the common good of all persons.
The accumulation of wisdom and knowledge is meant for the strengthening of faith in others. Spiritual gifts are intended by God to be shared freely for the common good of all people so that people are strengthened in faith and supported for the rigors of daily life in the world.
Therefore, we really need to take some initiative in identifying our gift(s), unpacking them, and indiscriminately using them. Spiritual health and wholeness can only truly be realized through everyone’s active participation in distributing their God-given abilities.
Stewarding Our Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts are neither to be hoarded, nor miserly dealt to only people I like or my own little world of groupies and friends. Any and every ability comes from God, and is therefore, given for the benefit of all persons. Underprivileged groups need the giftedness of others, as well as discovering their own resources so that everyone is built up in a society of redeemed persons.
What’s more, spiritual mavericks are not so helpful here. The Lone Ranger is not a good model for us. Christians are the Body of Christ, meant to function as one. Just as the Holy Trinity of divine persons – Father, Son, and Spirit – work together in unity of purpose and harmony of being, so persons of the Church are to unify and act as one in the mission of God.
Diversity of gifts are to be expressed in unity of building up others and extending Christ’s love to the world. When we harmoniously coordinate our joint efforts in utilizing our collective spiritual gifts, the world is turned upside-down with kingdom grace and ethics.
Goodness, joy, and possibility become alive when people unpack their gifts and use them for the common good of everyone.
Spiritual Gift Envy
Sometimes, we might succumb to “gift envy.” We observe the talented gift of another and secretly wish it for ourselves. The proper remedy to such a malady is gratitude. When we give thanks to God for the gift(s) we truly possess, then envy has nowhere to reside and slithers away.
None of God’s gifts are “sexy” in the sense that they come easily without effort and always look appealing. On the contrary, our gifts are meant to be received and developed with lots of daily mundane work so that we live into the special endowment bestowed upon us.
In reality, this takes a lifetime of development. That’s because the Spirit’s gifts are so generously large – much bigger than we originally observe at first glance. Like an engagement ring in a tiny box, receiving the gift and putting it on will involve commitments and challenges we cannot at the time perceive.
Whatever it is you do well, do it to the glory of God. Allow God to activate it and energize it for the prevailing needs of a church and a world which is in want of seeing spiritual fruit manifested in kindness, goodness, and love.
O Lord, you have taught me that without love, whatever I do is worth nothing. Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.