The Apostle Paul takes time in his first letter to Corinth to explain in detail the many aspects of spiritual gifts and how they are to work in the body of Christ, the church. In the next few blogs, we will explore Chapter 12 to 14 of First Corinthians. I will not get into the individual gifts, but look at the general principles that Paul employs which govern how the gifts should be used and why they are important to the church.
As Paul lists the various gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, he repeatedly uses the phrase “the same Spirit”, or that through the use of each gift they “manifest the Spirit”, or that the function of the gift “is given through the Spirit” or “by one Spirit”. These phrases remind us that the source of all the gifts is the Spirit of God and He must be central to their use. Notice what Paul says in verse 11; “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills”. That word “apportion” is very important to grasp as it helps us understand that not only are we given different gifts, but they are “distributed or divided” among individuals in the body of Christ with the exact capacity each one needs to accomplish the work God has given that person to do. A clear understanding of this preserves us from spiritually unhealthy jealousy or covetous emotions, or from insisting that others use their gift in exactly the same way we do, which leads to judging others using human measurement.
God the Holy Spirit has given each gift to be used in harmony with Himself, not as ‘copy-cats’ of others. This drives us back into the vital truth that unity in the body of Christ begins with my personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When this is working properly in each person, there will automatically be harmony and unity in the church, because Christ and the Spirit are the center, not us.
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