What are the Spiritual Gifts?

This probably should have been one of my first posts, so I apologize, while reminding my friends and all readers that I have never been a linear thinker.  If you would like to know exactly what the spiritual gifts are, and where they are listed in the Bible, this will help you out.  You can look up the passages and do more research on your own if you’re so inclined.

It might be worthwhile to note (and I did mention this is a previous post) that most Lutherans believe that certain gifts have “ceased.”  Since we have the complete Holy Scriptures, we no longer need prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues and interpretation of tongues.  These gifts were given in order to speak forth or authenticate God’s Word and his messengers.

Romans 12

  1. Encouragement

  2. Giving

  3. Leadership

  4. Mercy

  5. Prophecy

  6. Service

  7. Teaching

1 Corinthians 12

  1. Administration

  2. Discernment

  3. Healing

  4. Interpretation of Tongues

  5. Tongues

  6. Prophecy

  7. Wisdom

  8. Apostle

  9. Faith

  10. Helps

  11. Knowledge

  12. Miracles

  13. Teaching

Ephesians 4

  1. Apostle

  2. Pastor

  3. Teaching

  4. Evangelism

  5. Prophecy

1 Peter 4

  1. Serving

  2. Teaching

 

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One In Mission

I found this newer hymn in With One Voice.  It was written in 1985 by Rusty Edwards, a Lutheran pastor, and expresses a modern vision of the unity and gifting of the church.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same LORD. 6There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12 4-5

Listen and enjoy.

 

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

“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.”  1 Corinthians 12:4-7

It’s interesting and fun to discover our spiritual gifts.  However, the Bible makes it clear:  the gifts have a purpose, and that purpose is not to puff us up or make us feel superior or special.  Spiritual gifts are given for one reason:  to build up or edify the church.  God did not give us gifts to use to accomplish our own goals, he gave us gifts so that we could spread the gospel and serve others.

When we do a spiritual gifts assessment, we need to be thinking not just, what are my gifts?  We need to ask ourselves these additional questions:

  1. How am I using my gifts?
  2. Am I using my gifts in a way that benefits my church and others in the world?

An unused gift is useless.  A gift that is not used to serve God is also useless.  We don’t all have the same gifts (the verse above makes that clear) and some gifts may be flashier than others;  however, the parable of the talents makes it clear that God expects us to use what we have.   In fact, it’s a use it or lose it situation:  The servant who buried his talents is condemned:

“So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.  But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”  Matthew 25:28-30

Don’t be like that unworthy servant.  Discover your gifts, use them and feel God’s pleasure when you hear the words,

“Well done, good and faithful servant….Enter into the joy of your master.”  Matthew 25:21

 

 

 

 

A Motley Crew

If you look up the definition of this phrase, you’ll find that it refers to a loosely organized assembly of people who vary in appearance, background, and character but have a common goal.  Examples might be a band of pirates, or a western posse.   Historically, “motley” was the varicolored fabric worn by jesters — you remind what that looks like, right?  Kind of crazy and mismatched?

Well, you might say the disciples Jesus chose were a motley crew.  There was a zealot, a tax collector and some fishermen.  One of them denied Him, one betrayed Him, a couple asked for preferential treatment. They didn’t always get along.  They all seemed pretty clueless and dense about where Jesus was headed, even after He came right out and told them that He was going to Jerusalem to be killed.(Matthew 16:21)  Somehow, in the end, it all comes together in a way that is nothing short of miraculous.  This disparate group of men becomes a force that “turns the world upside down.”(Acts 17:6) How?  The answer is simple:  they received the Holy Spirit.

The same is true of any Christian congregation today.  We’re doctors and lawyers, janitors and cooks.  We’re black and white, Korean and Indian.  We don’t look like a , family, but we are. We get sidetracked, we quarrel, we mess up and we get frustrated with one another.  Somehow, though, with the help of the Spirit, and lots of prayer, we persevere and we accomplish things. We feed the hungry and clothe the naked;  we visit prisoners;  we teach and evangelize;  we maintain church buildings and support missionaries. We couldn’t do any of this on our own.  I think God planned to do great things through motley crews like us, just so we’d know we had to rely on Him and give Him all the glory.

“For consider your calling, brothers;   not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;  God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-30

The Motive is Love

“If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Without love for God and for others there is no true piety.  All our pious actions are worthless if they are not motivated by love — love for God and love for others.  This is what Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees and what Paul is teaching us here.

God is love.  If we, as followers, are to reflect His nature to the world, we, too must be loving. Not just to our family and friends, but to everyone we meet, and yes, even to those who seem completely unlovable.  Not to earn God’s approval, not because He needs our love, simply out of gratitude for the grace and mercy He extends to each of us.

This goes back to Beth Ann’s post about personal piety.  Truly pious people are not looking for a reward.  They don’t need to attract attention or be held up as shining examples of sainthood. Pious people have internalized Christ’s character.  They are humble and unassuming. They are focused. The engine that drives them is simply love. Guess what?  If you think you’re pious, you’re not there yet!

Will we ever become truly and 100% pious? Not in this life.  That’s why Lutherans think of piety as an ideal, and sanctification as a process.  The more we study, pray and worship, the more we walk and talk with Christ, the more like Him we’ll become.  Love will be our motive.

 

Godly Relationships

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

From the beginning, God intended us to be in relationship with others.  He said it wasn’t “good” to be alone.  He also made man “in the image of God”( Genesis 1:27) and God Himself is a relationship — Father, Son and Spirit.  It’s a relationship founded on love according the apostle, John:

“…the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”  John 3:35

and producing love, according to Paul:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love….’ Galatians 5:22

In fact, Scripture tells us that God is not only loving, He is love.

It seems to me that if God is love, and He made us to mirror His image, and He created us to be in relationship with one another — then His desire is that all our relationships be loving!  I’m not always a logical thinker, but this is where logic leads me.  I guess that means acting in love, even when we don’t feel love.  How do we do that?  Well…..

“Love is patient and kind;  love is not jealous or boastful;  it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. ”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It’s not easy, but I think if we pay attention and keep these verses from Corinthians in mind, we can become more patient, kind, courteous and humble;  and those few changes in our behavior will allow God’s love to shine into all our relationships.

 

 

Be A Love Letter

I’ve heard people call the Bible God’s love letter to us, and it is.  However, did you realize that each one of us is a love letter to the world from God?  Listen to what Paul tells the church in Corinth:

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.  And you show you are a letter from Christ delivered by us written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

See the source image

If you haven’t noticed, all the Greek words for love that we’ve been pondering this month deal with relationships with people.  When we love our families, our neighbors, our friends, our fellow church members, or complete strangers we are simply instruments, used by God, to deliver His love to the world.  That’s quite a responsibility.  God’s love may be perceived and experienced through us.  Everyone you meet won’t read the Bible, but they will read about God through your life.

What kind of letter will you be?