God has blessed His children with a variety of gifts.
To be a growing, vibrant Christian we must to be aware of the spiritual gifts of other Christians.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians because their gifts were needed and because of their ignorance
of spiritual gifts. (I Cor. 12: 1)
Paul is warning us not to be ignorant of these gifts.
From that Greek word for ignorant, we get our word agnostic.
There are many spiritual agnostics, even in the church.
There are some people who know about God, but they do not know God, and they are lost.
But I'm afraid many Christians know God; that is, they are saved, but they do not know
very much about God.
Of course none of us know all about God that we ought to know.
We must continue to learn all that we can about God.
God would not have us to be ignorant.
We must continue to learn of God and His Word.
What we don't know can hurt us!
We do need to be cautious.
Exercising our spiritual gifts is not a guarantee that we are spiritually mature.
The Corinthian church was well known for their spiritual gifts.
Paul said to them, "You come short in no gift". (1 Cor. 1:7)
All of the gifts were present and all of the gifts were being used.
But Paul also said to them, "I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people
but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ" (I Cor. 3:2).
They were exercising the gifts of the Spirit, but they were not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.
It is important to understand the nature and character of spiritual gifts.
Paul's description of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12.
In verse 1 the word, gifts, is italicized in the New King James Version.
That means it is not in the original language.
The word there, pneumatikon, literally means "the spirituals."
The translators inserted the word because they were trying to explain what they thought Paul meant.
The term simply means the "spirituals," that is, things pertaining to the Holy Spirit.
These gifts are from the Holy Spirit.
They are not material gifts.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not money, cars, clothes, houses,etc.
Those are blessings from God, but they are not gifts of the Spirit.
Spiritual gifts are treasures and tools to use in His service.
But they are spiritual gifts.
Paul tells us in verse 4, "There are diversities of gifts."
Now the word for gifts here is different from the one used in verse 1.
Here the word is charismata.
The word, charis, literally means, "grace."
These gifts are grace gifts.
They are gifts of the Spirit and they are gifts of grace.
Grace is a gift from God.
You do not earn it, buy it, or work for it.
You just accept it.
The Bible says, "By grace you have been saved through faith." (Eph. 2:8)
Just as we accept our salvation as a free gift from God, we are also to accept our spiritual gifts freely.
Spiritual gifts are supernatural.
They are not just glorified natural abilities.
They are not something you get by study, practice, or inheritance.
They are charismatic gifts, grace gifts, given solely by God.
If you are a Christian, you are in the true sense of the term -- a charismatic Christian,
because you have a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual gifts are supernatural endowments, which enable us to carry out God's work in God's way.
An atheist can give a stirring speech, but only a person with the gift of prophecy can preach a sermon.
An infidel could give a lecture from a passage in the Bible, but only a person with the
gift of teaching can rightly divide the Word of Truth.
Verse 7 tells us, "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all."
Spiritual gifts are given to serve the church, to build up the body of Christ, and to edify the saints.
If a spiritual gift does not edify the church, it is no longer a useful gift, it is an abused gift.
Spiritual gifts are not given for your enjoyment, but for His employment.
They are tools for building.
You will be blessed by exercising your spiritual gift, but it is not given primarily to bless you.
It is given so that you might be a blessing to the body of Christ.
God not only wants you to serve Him;
He wants you to serve Him the right way.
There are many Christians who are trying to serve God, but are frustrated in trying to serve Him
the wrong way.
The best way to serve God -- the right way because it is the only way -- is to exercise your spiritual gift
in the local church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To serve God in any other way will lead to frustration and failure.
You will never discover the true way until you realize that you were not meant to serve God in your flesh,
but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many years ago a young preacher was was frustrated.
He thought he was a failure in his ministry.
He went to see the great preacher Ian Thomas.
Major Thomas asked the young man, "What do you think God expects of you?"
This young pastor thought that only a high level of achievement could please God,
So, when he began to realize that God expects our very best, he became even more depressed
Major Thomas put his arm around the pastor and said, "Son, God expects nothing from you but failure!"
Then he added, "But God has given the Holy Spirit to you so that you need not fail."
We are to serve God, and we can serve God in such a way that will be pleasing to Him by using our spiritual gifts
in His service and for His glory.
Prepared by Dr. Harold L. White