August 27, 2019 | Didi Bacon
I grew up loving superheroes! I read superhero comics. I loved watching superhero TV shows and movies. I even had costumes I would wear to pretend to be a superhero. I had a black Batman cape that came with matching Batman hat and mask. And my mom made me a blue “Superman” cape that I also liked to wear. I used to run around full sprint pretending to be flying with my cape trailing behind me.
Why are we captured by stories of ordinary looking people like Clark Kent who are really extra-ordinary people with extra ordinary super powers, like Superman? I wonder if it points to a truth inherent in us as human beings. The Bible tells us that we were created to be more than we are. We are less than our Creator meant us to be because we lost fellowship with God because of sin. There is a deep desire for us to be restored and to be gifted with supernatural gifts that allow us to do things beyond ourselves. The Good News is that through the grace of God Jesus made a way for us to be right with God - By Grace, through faith, at Baptism - where fellowship with God is restored. But not only is our fellowship status with God changed. But also our life resources are changed because God gives us His Spirit to resource us with gifts that allow us to achieve things within His Will. We are called to be agents of the Holy Spirit on a mission in this world for God. The way this works is through what are called “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” There are two places in our Bibles where we find insight on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of those places is found in Paul’s letter to the Christians in the city of Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians the Apostle writes to address a bunch of issues going on in the church. One of the issues was a misunderstanding and misuse of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian Christians had elevated a couple of the spiritual gifts to be the marker of spiritual maturity. Their practice of the spiritual gifts created division in the church.
So Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 7.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NASB)
The second place we find teaching on the gifts of the Spirit is in Paul’s letter to the 1st Century Christians in Rome. The letter to the Romans is Paul’s expanded explanation of the message he preached regarding how God has made a way for us to be right through faith in Jesus. The first 11 chapters of Romans is teaching, explanation and insight. Chapter 12 is what I would say is the beginning of the “so what” section. It is instruction on living based upon the life giving teaching shared before. The first line of chapter 12 lays it out… “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Paul will then detail what presenting your bodies as living sacrifices looks like in the following verses and chapters which will include what he says in verse 6:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 (NASB)
Ok. So what are some takeaways from 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12? The first is that the Holy Spirit gives the gifts as He wills, it is not something that comes from us. The source of spiritual gifts is the Holy Spirit. It is not something we decide and dictate.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives us gifts to bless another. Paul says the Spirit gives the gifts for “the common good.” If you are the only beneficiary of a spiritual gift you are either misusing that gift and therefore are being disobedient to God or what you are calling a spiritual gift is not a gift from the Holy Spirit.
Third, in order to see the gift of the Spirit at work in our lives we must say yes to the ministry opportunity the Holy Spirit provides. That’s what Paul is getting at in Romans. Gifts are given based upon our God assignment. It is up to us to respond in faith to the opportunity to serve another in the name of Jesus in order to see the Holy Spirit’s gift activated to do something that we could not do on our own.
The supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are activated when I say yes to the call to minister to another and I trust that He will provide for where I lack. This is living by faith. This is walking by the Spirit. It is daily trusting that the Holy Spirit provides what I need to bless another, and what I have to do is to be open to His prompts to bless another. To be an agent of God’s love because I love God.