The Diversity in the Gifts of the Spirit

gifts1Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 17, 2016

 


1 Corinthians 12:1-11 | New Living Translation

12 Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.


The season of Epiphany speaks to the mission of Jesus.  In the gospel reading for today, we have the account of Jesus turning the water into wine.  This would be the first of many miracles that Jesus would perform.  I often like to refer to these several weeks – and they vary depending on when Ash Wednesday and Lent begin – as a season of Light.  Jesus has just come into the world – what we celebrate at Christmas.  Jesus was revealed to the world by the wise men – what we celebrate as Epiphany.  Last week, we remembered the baptism of Jesus as he was “commissioned” into public ministry.  This season looks at the mission of Jesus and the mission of the church.

It is no secret that the church has seen its moments of controversy over the years.  How can an organization that Christ ordained have so much controversy?  Because the church is made up of people. All of us are in various stages of our Christian growth and some are more mature than others.  Still, the church has been called to be light in a dark world.  Because the church and its people have been commission by Jesus to go and make disciples of the whole world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching these new disciples the same things Jesus taught us, we have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting to see that these gifts are just as diverse as the people God made.  In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he addresses what seems to be a problem in the church.  People were getting up in arms about the importance of certain gifts.  It seems some people may have thought they were more important than others because God bestowed more important gifts to them.  Paul is addressing this in chapter 12.  No gift is more important because they are all gifts of the same Holy Spirit.

There are times when I really wish we could get this into our thick skulls.  We have such an amazing and diverse God and he made his people diverse and the Holy Spirit has given us diverse gifts.  These are things that we ought to be celebrating.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

Paul goes on to write that these spiritual gifts are diverse so that we can help each other, not tear each other down.  Paul only mentions a few spiritual gifts here in this passage, but I tend to feel that there are way more.  In some ways, I feel that the gift that God has given me to play music and lead worship is a spiritual gift. It is that gift that I give back to the church to build it up.

One of the dangers in spiritual gifts is that others may think that we are building us up instead of the church.  That is a prayer that each one of us need to pray that we don’t boast in our spiritual gifts.  Each believer has been given gifts that are as diverse and different as we are human.  I also think it is important that we value what each believer brings to the table – brings to the church.  It takes a great deal of diversity to reach a world that has a great deal of diversity.  Each person can be reached by different means.  If we are going to take the Light of the World to the world, we need to use the diverse gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us to reach the world.

 

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