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My Insights from the Bible
Spiritual Gifts: Unity in Diversity
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For 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 ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12: 4 - 11 ESV)
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The body is one and has many members
St Paul wrote to the Corinthian church so they would not be ignorant of the gifts of the Spirit. It was God’s plan for His people to live and work in unity with one purpose and have an overwhelming love for one another. These spiritual gifts were given to each member of the church body, and they were distributed according to God’s plan. Spiritual gifts were not just natural abilities as some preachers today seem to think. God’s gifts were above and beyond the natural abilities we all have.
Many of today’s Christians covert the gift of speaking in tongues. Yet to Paul this was near the bottom of the list for the obvious reasons that he writes (1Cor 14: 9). He later encourages Christians to seek after better gifts that will encourage and edify (1Cor 14: 39 - 40).
There are two ways, I believe, God’s spiritual gifts can help believers in their walk with the Lord and their witness to the world. Firstly, spiritual gifts can provide what is missing in the Christian life and ministry. Before the day of Pentecost we read that the disciples of Jesus were timid and fearful of being arrested and crucified. When God poured out the Holy Spirit they became bold and fearless. Secondly, spiritual gifts can complement the natural abilities we already have, giving us greater effectiveness in our Christian walk and witness. Whatever the basis of receiving spiritual gifts is we know that God has selected them for us. Even so we can seek after better gifts, so we can be all that God wants us to be and more.
God’s spiritual gifts, as well as our natural abilities, are given with one main purpose, that is, to unify the many different members of the church into one single entity – an entity that can work together and live together in total unity. This is what God desires, not the bickering, backbiting, criticising and disunity we often see today in our churches. Of course that does not mean we must overlook apostasy and bad behaviour. Everything we do should be for the building up of the church and the glory of God.
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