The rush of the Christmas season has passed, we've all over-eaten, and stacks of presents are everywhere. The joy of watching your loved ones unwrapping their gifts with joy can be the highlight of the holiday. Can you imagine how pleased it makes the Holy Spirit when we open ourselves up to receiving the gifts He has for us? It is important for both the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ that we believe, first of all, that we have gifts to be used; and secondly, that we earnestly desire to receive them all.
I say this, because I know of some Christians who have expressed that they don't think they've been given any gifts, and others who think that desiring gifts is somehow exalting themselves. I personally do not believe that either of these suppositions is true. To begin with, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 is one of our "go to" Biblical destinations to find out what the Word says about our gifts. Verse one confronts an obvious stumbling block among the believers in the Church of Corinth. Various translations record Paul saying this about the spiritual gifts: "I don't want you to be confused about the gifts -- or misinformed -- or uninformed". So this was a very important topic in the First Century Church! So should it be today.
Paul continues in what he wants the Corinthians to understand ... "Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary
powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine
grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but
the [Holy] Spirit remains the same". Paul goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit distributes these various empowering gifts to different people so that the Body of Christ [when considered as a whole] can expand the influence of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
There is to be no competition or envy among believers concerning the gifts because we all have a vital part to play in the Kingdom, and the gifts are the divine power source from God that confirms His Word and establishes His righteousness on the earth. When we properly use the gifts imparted to us, the Body of Christ is equipped to change the world. You see, the imparted gifts are not for us, they are for the benefit of others. Yet, today, there seems to be such controversy and much discord among the Body regarding the pursuit of the gifts.
If someone is operating in their gift(s) -- yes, one may be empowered with more than one gift by the Holy Spirit -- I have seen that person ostracized and excluded from the Body because they don't resemble everyone else. I think there are times we have forgotten this important advice from Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:19: "A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be a body at all!" In other words, we should support each other's differences and be thankful for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in bestowing the impartations from God. Furthermore, we should be using our own divine power source to encourage others. Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to "earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts)".
There is a beautiful picture of this encouragement in Acts 13 where inspired prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch heard this from the Holy Spirit: "I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me. Now, release them to go and fulfill it.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them off. Here, we see the Church working with the Holy Spirit to equip and send believers out into the world to share the Word of God and His Kingdom message.
Now, the modern Church does send missionaries into the world to share the Gospel. And, yes, many of them are endowed with spiritual gifts. And I daresay that these gifts of revelation, wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and tongues are well-used and well-received among unbelievers who are seeing the manifestation of the Most High God for the first time.
So, why is it so hard to get the Western Church to embrace the desire and pursuit of these divine gifts? Why are they so neglected, or even misused? What builds the Church up more as the representative of God's kingdom -- denying His empowerment, or selflessly strengthening and encouraging the Body to manifest His power and glory?
I can only speak for myself, but as I have grown in my relationship with Jesus, I have also sought more of the Holy Spirit and God's empowerment through Him. Because He lives in me, I have access to all the gifts, and I have no problem saying I earnestly desire and pursue all of them! I know that these gifts provide supernatural power and ability to demonstrate God to those I come in contact with. I want to drink deeply of the Spirit [and cooperate with Him] to help unlock the potential of the gifts in others. Just as on Christmas morning, the anticipation of unwrapping a pile of gifts is something we look forward to. It's time for the Church to apply the same expectancy towards the spiritual gifts. Let us desire their distribution, activation and operation in our lives!
1 Peter 4:10 As each of you has
received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine
endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s
many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].