So…last Sunday was different…
In 1 Corinthians 12, a preeminent framer of the Christian Church wrote about something called the manifestations of God’s Spirit. Most people refer to these manifestations of God’s Spirit as spiritual gifts. These particular gifts are wonderful gifts that excite and edify the one who receives as well as those who are able to witness someone receiving them.
Last Sunday we saw the manifestation gifts of God’s Spirit in a few different ways. People were healed from physical problems. People were encouraged in their faith. In one particularly special case, Jesus singled out a person in our first service with a word of knowledge about In-N-Out Burger. Yep. that’s right. In-N-Out Burger! I met with him this week and he recounted the amazing way each of the words of prophecy and words of knowledge applied to him. He was hit by the word about a shoulder needing healing, a marriage needing God to bring some walls down, and the super specific word about In-N- Out Burger. It was fun and holy to hear him share the rest of the story with me and to see God’s radically attentive love for him.
Now, just like Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to be ignorant about spiritual gifts or manifestations, I don’t want us to be, either. I don’t want us to be ignorant, because there is a lot of confusion and mistreatment out there which can lead to deep hurts and shameful manipulations. I also don’t want us to be ignorant because I don’t want us to miss out on any good thing that God has for us.
So, first off, we need to understand the New Testament translators’ use the word “gifts” where the original Greek text uses three words: charisma, doma, and phanerosis. Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12 are all gift lists written by Paul, but each one uses a different word in the Greek. (This email would be far too long if we dove into these three, but you can do a deeper dive for your own personal development.)
Second, the list given in 1 Corinthians 12 is different from the other lists, because it specifies that the manifestation gifts are given momentarily, as the Spirit decides. They belong to the Spirit of God and are only given by the Spirit of God. Some may be more comfortable receiving and giving some manifestation gifts more than others, but they do not possess that gift.
Third, Paul makes it very clear that all the manifestation gifts of the Spirit are worthless without the gift of God’s love. Love is the greatest gift we can receive and the greatest gift we can give.
Last Sunday was exciting and edifying, no doubt. The manifestation gifts are special and wonderful, and I want us to eagerly desire the manifestation gifts of God’s Spirit. But I don’t want us to forget the other gifts God has given to us, like His word that’s found in the Bible, His will that’s found in prayer, His love that’s found in communion with Him and one another, and His generosity that’s found every time we sacrifice for His name.
Remember: No gift of God is isolated to a Sunday morning church service context. All of God’s good gifts are for you and yours, whenever and wherever you take time to wait on God.
In God’s presence we receive His presents, and the greatest present of all is His love.