Friday, January 24, 2014

Gifts are Given

               
 Do you ever wonder about the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Do you ever wonder what your gifts are? I once took a test to determine what gifts I had been given based off a series of questions created by a pastor. This was many years ago, and I was a young Christian who had stumbled in her walk due to the misleading of another teacher. Her comment that tripped me was that if I spoke in tongues then I had the Holy Spirit. If I didn’t speak in tongues, then I did not have the Holy Spirit. This stumbled me in my walk and made me question for months, actually, almost a year whether or not I was saved. It was not until I read Paul’s words that I realized that tongues were a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it was not until I read and searched out the truth from God’s word that I realized not everyone who has the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues. I am not here to debate doctrine with you, I am only here to state what I believe the Lord has shown me and what He is speaking to me to write to you all today.
                “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
                What is a gift? A gift is something that someone gives to you. It is not something you earn; it is not something you deserve. It is a gift. We were given the gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ. We were given the gift of eternal life through Him as well. Then, when we opened our hearts and believed in Him we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not given these gifts because we were good enough and earned them, we were given them because it was His desire and His delight to give them to us. We have these gifts because He is worthy, not because we are.

                What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit? There are numerous gifts, and Paul lists many of them off. But there are other gifts that are not mentioned. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul tells us that there are teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, gifts of helps, administration, just to name a few; but what about the gift of worship? What about the gift of writing? I am not capable of writing one dot unless the Lord gives me the gifts to do it. What about the gift of song writing? I do not have this gift, but I know a sister in the Lord who does. Do I have the gift of worship? (If you ever heard me sing, you would immediately say a loud “No!”) Does that make my gift less than hers? Does that make me less of a person because I do not have a particular gift? Absolutely not!
                We are not given these gifts of the Holy Spirit to glorify ourselves. We are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to edify and build up one another, as well as glorify God. When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, Peter, after he received the Holy Spirit, stood up and gave the first gospel sermon ever preached by man. Was it Peter who spoke it, or was it the Holy Spirit working through him to bring glory to God? It was the Holy Spirit. God gave Peter the gift of evangelism for a purpose and a reason, and because Peter was a willing vessel, three thousand souls gave their lives to Jesus Christ.
               
We get so caught up in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that we have forgotten the Holy Spirit completely. I see women and men doing all that they can to become teachers and leaders within the church. They are striving to be someone God has not gifted them to be. They are striving to have gifts that God has not given them, and the result is despair and hurt by those who have been trampled on their way to the top. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts. They are not ours, and they cannot be earned. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit works all these gifts, giving them to whom He chooses, as He wills.
                We are all unique individuals, we may have similarities, but we are all different and unique. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the same. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are unique and individual to each person. We may both have the gift of teaching, but God uses each of us differently. A gift is a favor that we receive without doing anything for it. These gifts that we have been given are not ours to begin with, so there is no reason at all that we should strive or compete for them. Instead, we should do as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 13 and strive for love rather than gifts.
                The Holy Spirit gives to each of us the gifts we need to be the Christians He has called us to be. We were given the gift of Salvation, and eternal life. Now that we are believers we are given more gifts, these gifts are given to enable us to serve the body of Christ, not because we are worthy, but because He is worthy. We get so caught up in the gifts that we have forgotten the Giver of these gifts. Maybe instead of focusing on the gifts, we should instead focus on Who He is, and who He wants to be through us. Maybe instead of focusing on the gifts, we should focus on being the vessels He wants us to be to carry these gifts to those who need them most.  
                I am not an apostle, I am not a preacher. I am a simple woman who has been saved by grace and given the gift of the Holy Spirit to complete the work that He has prepared for me to complete. (Ephesians 2:8-10) We are not given these gifts to glorify ourselves or to exalt ourselves. We are given these gifts to exalt Him. What did Peter and the other apostles do right after the Holy Spirit came? (Acts 2-3) They preached Christ and the Salvation that was given to all mankind through His sacrifice on the cross. The best gifts are desirable, but as Paul tells us, there is a more excellent way, and that way is love. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

                Did you realize that Paul did not speak in tongues after he gave his life to Jesus Christ? Acts 9:10-20 tells us that Paul received his sight, was baptized and then went out and preached Christ. He did not have that “Pentecost” experience like Peter and the other apostles did, so did that make him less of an apostle? No, it just meant that God had something else in mind for Paul, a different gift at that moment. Was Paul given the gift of tongues at some other point? Probably, because he references tongues in 1 Corinthians 13, but Paul did not speak in tongues the moment the Holy Spirit came into his life. Paul understood what it meant to be given gifts of the Holy Spirit. He knew that they were for the purpose of edifying and building up the body of Christ. Even Peter understood this, which is why he wrote what he did in 1 Peter 4:10. “As each one has received gifts, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

                Peter and Paul understood that the gifts they had been given were given to them by the Holy Spirit to do the work that He had called them to do. No matter whom we are, where we are from, or where the Lord takes us, He alone will give us the gifts we need to be the people He desires us to be. We are just a bunch of earthen vessels, filled with gifts given to us by God the Father, the Father of gifts. Maybe we should start focusing less on the gifts and more on the Spirit of God who works in us and through us, giving Him glory instead of our own selves. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.