1 Corinthians 12:7
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
When we consider the activity of the Spirit in our lives, we could become very introspective, even self-oriented. We live in an age of radical individualism and some people might see “spiraling up” as a very exclusive relationship between God and me. But the Holy Spirit won’t let that happen! We were born in community, and we were designed to live in community. Furthermore, the more like God we become the more we’ll be oriented outward, preoccupied with others, not with self.
And the startling thing is this: God has chosen to do His work in the world through us! So a major activity of the Holy Spirit is to get God’s purposes on planet earth accomplished through His people reaching out. “People reaching out,” however, does not mean individuals doing God’s work independently of one another. God’s method is called the church. The Spirit of God works primarily through and in relation to the church.
What are tasks that need to be done in your church? You might name preaching, teaching, serving meals, counseling, ushering, singing, leading, managing money, helping those with physical or material needs, playing a musical instrument, evangelizing, or starting new churches. If you want those tasks in the church to have spiritual results, the Spirit must be involved!
When the Spirit supplies you with some ability to serve, it’s called a gift. Spiritual gifts are not just natural abilities, though such talents are also gifts from God and used by him to accomplish His purposes. A Spirit-gift points to something beyond our natural abilities. Think of two jobs in the church. How could we tell if the person doing them has the touch of the Spirit on his or her work? For example, what might result from a naturally gifted person’s teaching in Sunday School and what might happen if the Spirit worked through the teacher?
Under a natural ability of teaching, you may have considered things like: people listen, it’s interesting, people learn. Under the Spirit’s gift you may have put things such as: people understand spiritual truth and begin to act on it; the Bible seems to come alive; people grow spiritually — their lives are changed.
Or let’s consider finances. Imagine on your church’s finance committee a person with the natural ability to manage money being Spirit-led in exercising that gift, as opposed to the same person operating on natural ability alone. What might be the results of each of the different person’s management?
This one is tough. Perhaps you would put under natural ability, things like we don’t have to worry about finances — everything is honest, above board, and accounted for; we never get in a jam because our finance committee can project income and expenses and hold us to our budget. The Spirit’s touch might be seen in the following ways: our finance committee members are people of faith, they encourage us to give generously and trust God for miracle provision; they are people of vision, making sure that the church invests in what is most important from God’s perspective; they are compassionate, seeing needs both in the church and outside as well, and leading us to meet those needs.
Natural talent or spiritually gifted? What kind of results do you see in your life? What about the life of your church? As we grow to become more like Jesus, we live in community and build the body of Christ using our spiritual gifts. There is supernatural fruit, results only the Spirit of God provides.
Why not pray today using the following prayer as a guide? Holy Spirit, what a wonder You are! Thank You for making me with such high potential — to think and act like Jesus and to be one with You. When I mess up, You don’t give up. Thank You for taking my broken model and transforming me into a new kind of person. Thank You for revealing to me what You want me to be and how I can become what You plan. Thank You for growing me up toward greater likeness to Jesus and thank You for all the growth that lies ahead. Thank You for companioning with me daily and for giving me those wonderful weapons to win out in life: prayer, the Word, the church. I want to be a faithful reflection of You. I want to be used by You to the maximum. I want to walk with You all the days of my life. I do trust You and love You. Here’s my life — all of it, past, present, and future to do with as You please. I’m Yours, gladly and forever! Amen.