Yesterday at church my pastor talked about spiritual gifts. We got through it without anyone throwing stones. Although, we’re not getting to tongues and prophecy until next week, so who knows what could happen.
My pastor talked about how in the Old Testament, we see God and His people communicating through three offices: prophet, priest and king. God used prophets to bring His Word to the people; He used priests to bring the people to God through prayers and sacrifices, and kings were there to lead the people, especially in the area of staying true to God’s law. Then Jesus came and fulfilled all of those offices fully. He was a prophet because He was the Word. He was a priest in that He became the final sacrifice. And He was a king because He demonstrated, fulfilled and taught us how to obey the law perfectly.
Because of Jesus, believers are now filled with the Holy Spirit, and each of us has one (or more) of the gifts that help us bring God’s love to others. Some of us might be good at teaching or speaking truth (prophet), others at serving and compassion (priest) and others at leading (king). What’s important, my pastor said, is remembering that spiritual gifts are different than talents. Just because you were a good leader before you became a Christian, doesn’t mean that this is your spiritual gifting. Or, he said, just because you weren’t a good speaker before, doesn’t mean that your spiritual gift isn’t speaking now. We know one reluctant speaker/leader whom God clearly used to lead His people out of Egypt, but he didn’t believe he could speak effectively.
Some of us don’t know what our spiritual gifts are, and others of us are pretty confident in them. There are all kinds of “spiritual gifts tests” out there, but what’s important is remembering that any gift should be used for God’s glory in the service of others. This is the point of why Paul takes a huge break in his discussion of the gifts to talk about love. As we often do with Scripture, many of us pluck 1 Corinthians 13 right out if its context and use it as a pretty passage for weddings. But this extensive description of what love looks like is meant to help us understand that any gift is to be pursued through love — patiently, kindly and humbly. (My guess is that Paul would be disappointed by the division and lack of love often shown in discussion about spiritual gifts. We’re good at missing the point.)
Paul reminds us that we Christians are one body. We all have gifts through the Holy Spirit, and we should use them for God’s glory. If you use your gift and I use my gift, we’ll be working together as the body of Christ, loving one another through their administration and drawing others into fellowship with God. Sounds good to me.
Have you thought much about the spiritual gifts? What gift do you believe God has given you? Have you ever felt God calling you to a gift you didn’t think you had, like we saw with Moses?
Copyright 2011 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.