I hope our study on spiritual gifts has stirred up a fire of discovery. From time to time our spirit or faith has to be stirred up, rekindled, or reawakened. It’s easy to let things go or get out of the habit. Our attention spans and faith journey need constant attention. That’s why the Apostle Paul encourages us to “stir up the gift of God” or “fan into flame the gift of God”.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV
The New Century Version of the Bible says to “keep using the gift God gave you”. If you have ever stopped working out or exercising, you don’t feel as good and are out of shape. Stamina and energy levels can decrease which makes it harder to be active. Our spiritual muscles are the same. We have to keep them in shape or keep using them.
One of our first responses to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness is gratitude. Our gratitude is expressed through our praise and worship of God, and a desire to give something back. Giving can take many forms, but one of the primary ways is through serving or loving our neighbor. We can do that individually or corporately. When we hear about needs in our neighborhood, community, and the world; we are drawn or called by the Lord to respond.
Our response varies depending on our gifts and abilities. For some, who have the gifts of giving, encouragement, mercy, or service, it may mean purchasing supplies and delivering them in person or writing a check to an organization/ministry that will make the delivery. Others may be called to visit those in need and offer prayers, encouragement, and emotional support. If you have the gift of faith, then you believe that the Lord will use those supplies and your efforts to make a difference. Those with leadership or teaching skills will organize and train a response team, organizing them according to gifts and abilities. These are just a few examples of spiritual gifting in action.
In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul uses the “body” as an analogy for how God uses our gifts in a coordinated or corporate way for greater impact. We commonly refer to the church as the “body of Christ”. This passage is probably where that reference originated.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 NIV
For the full “body” analogy, read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV
The body of Christ, like the human body, has many parts with different functions, but in order for the body to function properly and efficiently those parts have to work together for optimal performance and survival.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-18 NIV
It’s kind of funny when you think about the body just being an eye or an ear. It’s almost like Paul is saying that it would be ridiculous to think that way. The body may be able to survive without some of its parts, but there are certain parts, like the heart, brain, or lungs, that we can’t live without. Without certain body parts our performance and ability can be greatly diminished. The church or body of Christ is no different. Without certain spiritual gifts or “parts” the church body would be unhealthy and out of balance. It’s just like Paul says, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?” That’s why all spiritual gifts are important and has a vital role to play in God’s plan.
Jesus of course is the heart of the body or the church. Without Jesus there would be no reason for the church or Christianity to even exist. As I’ve said before, there would be no Christianity without Christ. It wouldn’t even be a word without Christ, so those “Christians” or churches that don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God have just torn out the heart of their own faith. I mean what’s the point of being a Christian without Immanuel, which means “God with us”? There are plenty of people that say and do great things, but there was only one who lived a perfect life, endured the cross, conquered death, rose from the dead to bring us new life, and SO MUCH MORE! Only God can do that. I don’t want cheap imitations. I want the real thing. I want powerful and miraculous. This is why Paul warns us to have nothing to do with other “forms of godliness” or cheap imitations.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV
Sorry, I got carried away, but I just wanted to emphasize the whole point of this study and our faith. Spiritual gifts are powerless without Jesus. Anything we do in our own strength is just a cheap imitation of what God’s spirit can do. Again, unbelievers can do good, even great things, but what God can do is immeasurable. Check out the definition of immeasurable: “too large, extensive, or extreme to measure.” I love it! God is EXTREME and beyond calculation! Whew! Take a deep breath!
Okay, I wanted to save the best for last. I know that what we’ve already looked at is mind blowing, but as always God takes it to another level. There is one gift that is greater than all the others. Without this particular gift, all the others are rendered useless. If you jump over to chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians, Paul begins by saying that we can have all the other gifts in the world, but if we don’t have LOVE we are “nothing” and we gain “nothing”. NOTHING! Love “is” the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time! Knowing all this gets me fired up! I hope this series has encouraged all of us to keep stirring up the gifts of God within us.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV (Read the whole chapter!)
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.