SATURDAY READING: The Holy Spirit Provides Gifts by Keith Warrington

The Holy Spirit Provides Gifts by Keith Warrington

From The Message of the Holy Spirit

One: Introduction

The gifts of the Spirit are mainly discussed by Paul in 1 Corinthians, a letter that was written to believers who, though charismatic, were verging on the chaotic, their basic problem being due to relationship issues.  As a result of selfishness and a false view of their importance as individuals, the interests of others had been ignored.  Consequently, Paul speaks to the issue of unity from the start.  Thereafter, problems arising from their disunity are explored, including serious immorality, a readiness to take one another to court, marital issues, lack of care over younger Christians, idolatry, gender issues, ignorance over the Lord’s Supper and of the importance of internal harmony in celebrating it, and, finally, disorganized and selfish manifestation of gifts of the Spirit.

Paul reacts to these problems by establishing principles of Christian conduct that celebrate the importance of variety not uniformity, love not selfishness, liberty not license – unison and harmony, unity and diversity, privilege and responsibility, and sensitivity to the Spirit and to each other.  In particular, he demonstrates how these values should and could be attained through a correct use of the gifts that the Spirit gives to the church.

Paul does not engage in a systematic discussion concerning gifts of the Spirit, choosing not to explain their identity, offer guidelines for their use (other than for tongues and prophecy), or identify any precursors for their being received.  He is interested in the broader (and more important) issues that reflect the person of the Spirit who functions in unity within the Godhead, expressing interdependency and constancy, love, and grace.  Paul desires that such principles be manifested in the church at Corinth and elsewhere.

Two: Gifts of the Spirit are gifts of grace (1 Corinthians 12:4)

One of Paul’s emphases is that not only is the Spirit a gift to the church and every believer, but he also provides a variety of gifts for the benefit of all believers.  Such gifts from the Spirit are often referred to as charismata, a helpful term because of the inclusion of the Greek word  charis (grace) within it.  Thus, a helpful and popular translation is a “(free) gift” or “gift of grace,” given to the undeserving, to be freely and graciously distributed for the benefit of others.  Other than 1 Peter 4:10, Paul is the only New Testament writer who refers to them as charismata.  It may therefore be a term that he particularly chose to employ, probably because of its association with grace.

Although the notion of a gift is that it belongs to the recipient and not to the one who has given it, it is more accurate to accept that the charismata are on loan from the Spirit.  They are manifestations of the Spirit through believers that are expected to be used in ways that are appropriate to his character and will.  Even when individual believers may frequently manifest a particular gift, it is still preferable to understand these occasions as manifestations of the Spirit through those people, and not that they are using the gift of their own volition.  It is difficult to be completely clear in the formulation of a precise practical framework for the use of the charismata; some (miracles, healings) are manifested more intermittently than others (administration, teaching), which are more permanent.  Flexible, rather than rigid, contexts of use need to be embraced.

Three: Spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7)

The term pneumatikoi is also used to refer to gifts of the Spirit; its value is that it emphasizes their relationship with the Spirit (pneuma).  Rather than such gifts being requested of the Spirit by believers, it is more appropriate to recognize that the manifestation of such gifts is the responsibility of the Spirit.  He is in charge of their dispersal, each of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 being identified as given by the Spirit.  Indeed, in just eight verses, the concept of the gifts being given by the Spirit is mentioned no less than seven times.  Similarly, the Spirit is identified in the Old Testament as enabling, among others, Elijah and Elisha to function charismatically.  Furthermore, the manifestation of “spiritual gifts” does not indicate a superior spirituality on the part of the one who manifests them; they are “spiritual gifts” because their source is the Spirit.  Thus, to refer to them as “gifts of the Spirit” instead of “spiritual gifts” is helpful as it emphasizes the important fact that they are derived from the Spirit.

Although they are often specifically associated with the Spirit, Paul informs his readers that each member of the Godhead is involved in their being given to the church.  Any attempt to divide the gifts between the members of the Godhead is counterproductive to Paul’s theme, namely diversity of gifts with unity of purpose and sensitivity in operation.  Thus, to conclude that the Spirit provides the gifts, the Son administers them, and the Father provides the power to manifest them would be too nuanced a perspective, and would inappropriately compartmentalize the functions within the Godhead.  Paul is not offering a discussion of unity within the Godhead but in the church.

Given the regular references to the presence of the Spirit in the life of the church, it is logical that, in his letters, Paul should focus on the Spirit as functioning representatively as the distributor of the gifts.  Not only are they bestowed by the Spirit but also the Spirit manifests himself through those gifts.  Therefore, his character should be displayed when they are exhibited.  The fact that the gifts are given by the Spirit should increase the sense of responsibility felt by those who administer them and, in particular, encourage them to do so appropriately, as indicated by the nature of the giver of the gifts.  It is to be remembered that they are not derived remotely from a distance as a result of divine initiation from Heaven, so much as resulting from his being present in believers.  As a loving friend, he is happiest when his choice gifts to us are being used to benefit and bless others.

Four: Gifts of the Spirit are for the benefit of others (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Paul writes about the diversity of the gifts given as expressions of God’s grace, but with one specific purpose of benefiting others.  Paul asserts that spiritual gifts should be operated harmoniously in diversity, not discordantly, but as a consequence of a dynamic relationship with the Spirit, resulting in beneficial relationships with each other.  Paul associates the gifts with service to others, working for their benefit.  They are described as being given for the corporate group.  Thus, they are not to be administered selfishly but selflessly, not for personal gain but to the advantage of others.

When the manifestation of a gift ceases to exalt the person of Jesus or to edify or develop other believers, it ceases to be divinely inspired.  When there is an absence of a manifestation of love, there is an absence of a manifestation of God through the gift.  It is no accident that joining up chapters 12 and 14 is the clearly defined presentation of love and its vital importance to the believing community.  It is of significant importance in determining when someone is authentically manifesting a gift of the Spirit.  Without it, the exercise of such gifts can be counterproductive, demeaning to the purposes of the Spirit and destabilizing to believers.

The manifestation of the gifts must therefore be subject to careful assessment.  Sanctified common sense, the shared wisdom of the Christian community, a comparison with Biblical teachings and personal receptivity to the Spirit will hep to confirm or reject the validity of a manifestation.

Five: Gifts of the Spirit are varied (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Paul provides four major lists of gifts, none of which is intended to be comprehensive but representative.  One of the main purposes of these lists is to demonstrate the diversity of gifts available to believers.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation

1 Corinthians 12:28-30: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Miracles, Healings, Helps, Administration, Tongues, Interpretation

Ephesians 4:11: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist Pastor/Teacher

Romans 12:6-8: Prophecy, Service, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Mercy

Some question the distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” gifts, preferring to identify a gift of the Spirit on the basis of its value to the Christian community.  W. J. Hollenweger deduces that “a charism is a natural gift that is given for the common good.”  Other, however, have refused to identify natural talents as spiritual gifts.  A mediating position may be offered that allows for the possibility that, as well as those that are clearly supernatural, a gift of the Spirit may be a natural gift that has been invested with supernatural energy by God.

Thus, before Paul became a follower of Jesus, he was a scholar and activist on behalf of Judaism.  After his conversion, the Spirit empowered his natural (God-given) abilities for the benefit of the Christian community.  Often times, the Spirit chooses to use sensitivities, passions, strengths, and gifts that were originally part of our created characters and personalities.  He does not always do this but it should be no surprise when he does.  Although sin has marred the image of God in us, the Creator made us in his image and he is perfectly able to redeem our characters for his service.  After salvation, these gifts and sensitivities may be enhanced and supernaturally energized so as to achieve a higher potential of benefit for others.  At the same time, the Spirit is capable of empowering believers to function in ways that are beyond their normal powers.

Six: A sampling of Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Here Paul provides a list of gifts of the Spirit, a number of which are mentioned in other lists.  They function as a sample of gifts that are worthy of brief consideration.  The word of wisdom is best understood as a Spirit-inspired revelation for a particular occasion rather than a natural propensity towards wisdom.  The identity of the wisdom is not clear.  it could relate to the spiritual development of the one to whom it is given, and be active in preaching and teaching.  The fact that the word “wisdom” is used elsewhere with reference to the wisdom available from Christ may indicate that this refers to knowledge concerning the person and mission of Jesus.  there appears to be little reason to be restrictive in this regard, however, and it is probably safest, in the absence of Pauline guidance, to keep the definition of the anticipated wisdom wider rather than narrower.

The word of knowledge may refer to a supernatural awareness of facts that would be otherwise unknown to the recipient.  Because the word gn(o)sis (knowledge) is used elsewhere in contexts that relate to the knowledge of God, it is possible that this gift reflects those occasions when some aspect of God is being revealed.  However, there is evidence of supernaturally inspired knowledge being recorded in other settings, and this suggests that a broader base of knowledge may also be appropriate.

The discernment of spirits probably describes the supernatural ability to identify the presence of an evil spirit, the Spirit, or to identify the source of power motivating an act or word.  The gift of faith is to be distinguished from the fruit of faithfulness, and saving faith.  The faith referred to is best identified as the facility to trust God in a particular situation; thus, the gift of faith refers to a God-given assurance to undertake a particular action or offer a specific prayer (often in the absence of a Biblical promise).  The gift of faith is identified as a readiness to believe what God has promised or stated will occur.  In those settings, the Spirit may choose to support a believer in following a particular course of action by providing a “burst” of supernatural assurance or faith that their proposed action is the correct one.  Thus, even though there may be no Biblical mandate, the Spirit that protects the believer from functioning precipitously, precociously, or presumptuously.  The confidence provided by the Spirit to support one’s actions or words is to be understood as a gift of faith.  Paul is referring to a particular affirmation by the Spirit that the prayer, act, or word to be offered is in keeping with his will and, therefore, he provides encouragement to act accordingly.

The phrase, gifts of healing (or literally, “healings”), has been the subject of a range of explanations.  It is possible that Paul believed that each individual healing is to be identified as a gift of healing; thus, the person who is healed receives a gift of healing.  It may be that he is demonstrating the comprehensive power of the Spirit to provide restoration for all kinds of illnesses, or that some believers are enabled by the Spirit to facilitate the healing of particular illnesses.  Although some have claimed the latter to be a true reflection of their own healing ministries, it begs the question as to what one should do if the particular restorative capacity is not available to those wishing to minister to someone in need of specific restoration.  It is probable that the term, gifts of healings, best explains the purpose of the Spirit to provide a variety of healings through a diversity of believers, the gift being given when the Spirit wills it.

Although it need not be assumed that such ability resides permanently in a believer, Paul assumes the presence of healers in the church.  Such a definition may be applied to those who function in this gift more than other people, though the ministry of healing is more generally understood as being available to anyone, and effected through many believers.  Gifts of healing are most appropriately manifested in conjunction, with the gift of faith, and words of wisdom and knowledge, or prophecy.  The reference to miracles refers to the ability to perform miracles other than healings.

The gift of prophecy is presented as being different from that offered by the Old Testament prophets in a number of ways.  Thus, for example, in the New Testament, prophecy is not restricted to a group of prophets; all are potential prophets.  Also, the death penalty for a false prophet is not applied to New Testament prophets who speak in error.  Similarly, in contrast to Old Testament prophecy, prophecies recorded in the New Testament are mainly intended for believers.  The ecstatic prophecies are somewhat bizarre behavior or incidents, sometimes associated with certain Old Testament prophets are much less prominent in the New Testament church where sensitivity, care, and good order are important elements of the manifestations.

Since Paul anticipates that prophecies may be offered by a variety of believers, it is to be expected that the Spirit will speak in diverse ways to the community.  Prophecies and other verbal utterances of a similarly charismatic nature are often associated with or preceded by mental pictures, images, words, or physical sensations, the person who receives them then describing or explaining them to the congregation.  This variety of presentation is mirrored, to a degree, in the Bible, including visions, words, symbolic actions, and inner direction.

Prophecies are less related to foretelling the future, though that may sometimes occur, as it did in the New Testament.  Fundamentally, prophecy is an occasion when an individual, inspired by God, speaks (sometimes spontaneously and extemporarily) with an emphasis on edification or exhortation, or both, thus reflecting the New Testament norm.  Increasingly, the expectation and practice is for prophecies to be offered by a variety of believers in a congregation rather than a set few, although some denominations prefer to identify prophets through whom it is expected the Spirit will speak to the community.  The fallibility of prophecy is generally assumed to be due to its impermanent nature.  It is generally left to believers to decide concerning the authenticity of the information delivered, the prophecy rather than the prophet being the subject of scrutiny, though the lifestyle of the way in which the prophecy is offered may count towards its legitimacy.  It is unclear from 1 Corinthians 14:29 whether the prophecy should be scrutinized by other prophets or by the wider congregation, though, in general practice, the latter is assumed.

The means whereby a prophecy is to be examined are manifold.  A basic premise is that it should not contradict what is contained in the Bible.  Where the prophecy is foretelling or unrelated to the Bible, other tests are needed.  These may relate to the confidence that people have in the one prophesying, including their demeanor and attitude, one’s common sense and experience, whether the prophecy is edifying, the perception of the community of believers, and personal discernment as manifested by the Spirit.

Some have identified prophecy with preaching, though Paul seems to indicate that it is complement to preaching.  On occasions, however, a person may preach prophetically, even without their knowledge that they are so operating.  Indeed, many would aspire to preach in a way that demonstrates that the Spirit is inspiring their words and infusing the message with a supernatural dimension reflective of the Spirit, and not merely defined by the speaker.  Prophecies are best offered in ways that encourage the hearers to engage in the task of discerning their value, as anticipated in 1 Corinthians 14:29-32.  Prophecy of a personal nature should be offered with great care, and tested in conjunction with a range of guidelines (including discussion with other mature believers who are known and trusted, a personal sense of peace, and whether the message fits the current direction and focus of one’s life.)

Such messages need not be presented in archaic or religious language.  Prophesying in the first personal singular, that assumes the words are directly spoken by God, is not helpful, as it implies that it may not be assessed by the listeners.  Nor is it anticipated that such messages will only be in the form of sermons or spontaneous, unprepared exhorations.  The Spirit is capable of speaking through a range of verbal communication including songs, poems, conversations, as well as actions, vision, and dreams.  His therapeutic touch is manifested variously – the beauty is that believers can participate in these opportunities for offering wholeness to others.

The gifts of tongues and interpretation have been one of the most problematic in the history of the church, and much has been written for and against their significance for believers today.  The gift of tongues is best understood as an extemporaneous or spontaneous manifestation in a form that is a quasi-language.  The speaker is in control of her or his speech and the forming of the sounds; the Spirit does not manipulate or coerce the speaker into a particular speech pattern.  Whereas once only associated with Pentecostal believers, now many other believers also speak in tongues.

Although it is often, with the gift of interpretations, placed at the end of the Pauline lists of charismata, Paul valued speaking in tongues.  It may be defined as having a number of purposes.  The book of Acts demonstrates that it was often (but not always) associated with those occasions when people received teh Spirit.  Paul identifies its value in personal and public worship, in particular in praise and prayer.  The manifestation of the gift of tongues also functions as a symbol of the presence of God, his closeness and his mystery, his immanence and his transcendence, in the Christian community.

The New Testament, other than Acts 2:6, does not indicate that an Earthly language is being assumed by the writers when they refer to speaking in tongues.  Although it is a common perception among many that tongues and interpretation are equivalent to prophecy, in that both result in information being presented to the hearers, the evidence of the New Testament is not clearly supportive of this view.  Instead, those speaking in tongues are identified as speaking to God in prayer or praise.  There is neither Biblical support for the suggestion that the gift of tongues was intended to be a means whereby God communicated with believers, nor is there any indication that when a tongue is interpreted, it becomes equivalent to prophecy.

Seven: Every Christian receives a manifestation of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11)

By definition, all believers are people of the Spirit and thus are eligible to function as channels through whom he can minister to others.  With the privilege, however, comes the responsibility of maintaining a close relationship with the Spirit.  The concentration by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 is not on the gifts to which he refers or even on their diversity.  Rather, it is on the diversity of their distribution to all believers.  Indeed, he stresses this point no less than eleven times in five verses, beginning and ending the section by stating that each believer has been gifted.  This does not mean that believers should necessarily expect to exercise all the gifts of the Spirit.  Indeed, when Paul asked his readers if certain gifts were received by every believer, the implied answer was, “no.”

Thus, no believer should feel deficient because they may not have exercised one of the gifts in particular.  The donation of gifts is dependent on the Spirit. Similarly, no one should assume that Paul is suggesting that every believer has his or her “own gift” as an exclusive possession.  The gifts of the Spirit belong to the Spirit, as does the power needed to manifest them appropriately.  It is important to recognize that Paul encourages believers to realize their potential to be used by the Spirit and to use the gifts he grants to them.

The concept of every believer actively functioning in the church is clearly Biblical, but sometimes the leadership of local churches inappropriately functions as the depository of most of the gifts, especially the audible ones.  This is not necessarily because of a desire of leaders to monopolize.  It is often because of the lack of a framework for identifying how believers may be used by the Spirit, and thus limited provisions for such opportunities are created.  In the context of the Christian community, there is value in believers helping to identify gifts that have already been granted by the Spirit to others.  Although this could unhelpfully result in a mechanistic procedure, it could, with care and sensitivity, enable believers to recognize that they are manifesting gifts to the Spirit in their lives more than they may have realized.  At the same time, with mature guidance on the part of supportive believers, others could be helped to develop those gifts.

A number of years ago, I was conducting a weekend retreat for about fifty young Christians who were undertaking studies at the same university.  On the Friday evening, we conducted an experiment.  I asked them to spend time identifying strengths that they had observed in their colleagues.  Having spent some time doing this, they shared their findings. It was interesting.  As a result of them identifying gifts in their colleagues, they were able to encourage others with the recognition that they were valuable to the group because of who they were.  The next part of the evening was also illuminating.

A female student was affirmed as having highly-attuned organizational skills, while another was confirmed by his friends as having the capacity to teach and explain facts enthusiastically and cogently.  Such assessments they accepted as resonating with their own perceptions of themselves, but were encouraged that others had also identified them.  To demonstrate their faith in this corporate judgment, the group requested that the first become their secretary when they returned to their university, and engage in planning for future events.  She had been released to function in an ability that had been confirmed by her peers, and thus found fulfillment in exercising a gift that she believed that God had given to her.

The one who had been affirmed as having a capability to teach undertook his degree, then completed another degree, this time in theology, in a Bible college, stayed on and gained a master’s degree in applied theology and now functions as an Anglican priest.  He is now putting into practice every week that ability which was affirmed by his friends all those years ago.  We can help others to achieve their God-given destinies by taking time to help them identify the gifts that God has given them, and then seeking to enable them to find opportunities to exercise them.

There is little Biblical justification for the notion that one may transmit a gift to another.  But this does not undermine the value of recognizing and affirming gifts that have been bestowed on others and encouraging their use.  It is in this regard that Paul encourages Timothy to develop his gift, and that Barnabas and Paul were entrusted to fulfill the mission delegated to them by God, both occasions incorporating the laying on of hands.  Similarly, the purpose behind the presentation of the gifts in Romans 12:6-8 is to encourage the readers to use those gifts that God has given to them, and to do it in ways that are appropriate.

Eight: Gifts of the Spirit should be sought (1 Corinthians 12:31)

In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul encourages his readers to “earnestly desire the higher gifts.”  Much discussion has taken place over the identity of these particular gifts.  Before this issue is explored, it is valid to pause and recognize that believers are recommended to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, whatever they may be.  Although he is sovereignly in charge of their distribution, it pleases him when believers are prepared to partner him in their manifestation.  This is an enormous privilege for believers.  The one who has all power to do anything he chooses, and to achieve his objectives easily and successfully with no outside help, chooses to involve human, weak, imperfect believers in the process.  At the same time, he enjoys collaborating with them as co-workers in the fulfillment of his agenda.

When our children, Luke and Anna Marie were younger, we engaged in an activity at Christmas that soon became a tradition in our home.  A few days before Christmas, we would decorate the Christmas tree.  Christmas carols would be playing in the background and together, as a family, we would hang all the baubles on the tree.  It took a long time; decisions were carefully made by the children as to which decoration should go where, and where the Christmas lights should be placed.  It was a time of fun and family, and from our perspective as parents, the best part of the occasion was not the decoration of the tree but the enjoyment of being with our children, and seeing their pleasure at participating in the joint activity.  Whether they did it perfectly or not was not the issue.  Whether all the baubles matched was unimportant.  What was important was that their participation had resulted in their presence with us.  It didn’t even matter, when they went to bed, if we had to make some amendments. Being together was of central importance.

Although it may sound too marvelous to be true, the Spirit enjoys us being co-partners with him in projects that he has prepared.  Even though he could achieve his purposes without our involvement, he still chooses to use us.  Even though our best efforts are not always as fruitful as they could be, he still prefers to incorporate us in the task.  The reason is simple.  He prefers to work with us, and for us to work with him, than to exist in a relationship where there is passivity on our part, and separation between us.

In encouraging his readers to seek for the higher gifts, it is possible that Paul may be suggesting that they demonstrate love as the highest principle in their lives, given that he develops it as his next topic.  Nowhere, however, does Paul refer to love as a gift of the Spirit.  Alternatively, if he has ranked the gifts with an apostle being the most important and tongues as the least, it may be deduced that he is encouraging that they look to those that are most significant according to such a hierarchical grid.  However, he does not clearly provide a hierarchy in his lists though passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:28 indicate that some gifts are more prominent than others in the development of the church.  As the lists demonstrate, however, the gifts identified vary from one list to the other, and often are placed in a different order to their reference elsewhere.  There is little reason to indicate why one gift should be more (or less) valuable than another since they are each given by the Spirit, and each has an important function in certain settings.

The grading of gifts by Paul would be irrelevant to a most important theme for him – which is diversity and variety, not a ladder of importance.  Indeed, he emphasizes his disregard for the latter since he acknowledges that not all will be apostles, prophets, or teachers.  The theme of the chapter thus far has been to stress the importance of interdependency, giving equal recognition to all members of the body, however they function, including those deemed to be less important.

When Paul speaks of greater gifts, it is likely that he is referring to those gifts that are of a more beneficial nature at any given time; intelligibility and mutual benefit is high on Paul’s agenda for determining the acceptability of when it is appropriate to exercise a gift of the Spirit. After setting the gifts in the context of love, he illustrates this point by contrasting tongues (without interpretation) and prophecy.  Whereas the former benefits no one positively, other than the speaker, prophecy benefits everyone who hears it.  In that equation, prophecy would be deemed to be the higher gift because it benefits the community, while the gift of tongues, without an interpretation, does not.  If love is the channel for the deliverance of any of the gifts, it will ensure that each gift is presented in the most edifying way possible.  Gifts of the Spirit are intrinsically equal to each other.  The value of a manifestation of the Spirit is directly related to the need that has warranted the gift being exercised.

Nine: Gifts of the Spirit are given to be used (Romans 12:6-8)

Paul is anxious that believers use all that the Spirit has given to them.  Thus, the one who has been gifted with teaching should teach, the prophet should prophesy, the encourager should encourage.  They are not for personal or selfish use but for service to others, and for their benefit, the context of their use being love.  Gifts from the Spirit are not to be worn as badges of achievement, or to be put on the shelf and admired, but are to be daily laid before the Spirit for him to use.  More appropriately, believers should view themselves as living sacrifices to be presented in order to fulfill the will of God, exercising any and all of the gifts that may be given by the Spirit.

When writing to Timothy, Paul encourages him not to “neglect your fit.”  Indeed, he instructs him “to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”  The identity of the gift is not clarified.  The reader does not need to identify it; Timothy knows what it is.  The message to him is to use what he has received from God.  Whatever God has planted in our lives needs also to be given opportunities to bear fruit by being  cultivated.

The significance of the information is to encourage Timothy not to neglect what has been given to him.  What matters is that Timothy must not be restricted by his timidity and instead should use his gift and not be indolent.  In association with the exhortation to use the gift given to him, the description of the Spirit may be instructive, for the aspects of the Spirit referred to are integral to the use of any gift.  It must be manifested with love, power, and in a controlled way, all of which are possible under the influence of the Spirit.  The spiritual nature of these characteristics ensures that any gift of the Spirit to the believer will not be used in an insensitive or undisciplined manner.  He functions in the believer not in weakness or cowardice, but in authority and integrity.

The Spirit who commissioned Jesus also commissions believers to undertake responsibilities on his behalf for the benefit of others.  When Paul refers to charismata in Romans 12:6-8, it is for a central purpose – to remind his readers that the reason why they are given to believers is so that they should be used.  Thus, he refers to a selection, each of which is followed either by the instruction that it should be used or by how it should occur.  It is one thing to identify a gift that God has given but another thing to operate it appropriately and effectively.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and Earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”  The Spirit expects no less dedication to the implementation of the gifts that he gives to us.




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