In studying, or operating in, spiritual gifts, it is important to remember two things. One, they are gifts. Like salvation, they are given to us, not earned by anything we do. Two, they are "spiritual" in nature. That means they are on a higher plane, independent of the flesh.
John 4:24 says: GOD IS SPIRIT and his worshippers MUST worship Him IN SPIRIT and truth.
If you are going to connect with the God of the universe, you are going to have to do it in the spiritual realm. Jesus ascended into heaven - into a higher dimension of existence - to sit at the right hand of the Father. When we die, we will move up to that higher realm also, but we can access it now because the Spirit of God dwells in us. We move up into the Spirit’s domain. We don’t sink into some emotional display; nor do we engage in a fleshly ritual like animal sacrifice or whipping ourselves or rocking back and forth in front of a large stone wall in order to commune with God.
What we do, rather, is focus our mental powers on the Holy God. We must quiet our minds so we can hear what the Spirit says. Most of the time, God will not compete with our distractions like radio and TV. He wants our undivided attention. The Spirit operates through the mind- our mental capacities - and therein lies the problem. We have trouble sorting out our thoughts and the Spirit’s words. The challenge is to learn to discern between the two and it takes some training and practice.
I believe the most important reason that the gifts have been given to us is to build up the body of Christ, as Paul tells us in Corinthians. But along with that, they are meant to enlarge our consciousness of the triune God and enable us to recognize his presence in our life and in His church.
I think that bears repeating, Spiritual gifts should increase awareness of the Omnipotent Father and help us strengthen the body of Christ- including ourselves.
Let’s look now at some of the gifts.
Romans 12: 3, 6-8, 10 says: For by the Grace given me I say to every on of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if its is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Paul’s context here in Chapter 12 is again our relationship to God and our relationship to each other which lines up nicely with what Jesus called the two greatest commandments - Love God and love one another.
The starting point as we see in verse 1 is to offer ourselves to God:
Romans 12:1-2 There, I urge your brother... to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
With a renewed mind, we can discern what the will of God is in our life. The Spirit works through a renewed mind. BUT, we move to vs. 3, Don’t let yourself get puffed up or prideful about your position in Christ or your possession of spiritual gifts. Don’t let your gifts be a badge of honor to make you feel better than anyone else. After all, he gives gifts to all the other members of the body too.
Paul’s comparison is to our natural body. You know your body has many parts- brain, heart, hands, feet - that function together as a whole. So it is supposed to be in the church; there are many parts that are designed to work together as a whole. Those parts are called gifts. I don’t believe this is meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a good sampling.
The word GRACE used here is Charis: the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life. I believe that's what God does after you have given yourself to him. He guides or influences some portion of your nature so that it grows to become what others recognize as a gift. It may seem natural to you, but others see an ability above the normal.
The words "GIFTS" used in vs. 6 is Charisma: a divine gratuity; a spiritual endowment or even a miraculous faculty.
The gifts listed here begin with prophecy. The simple definition is: Prophecy - prediction, to tell something before it happens. The next one is: Serving - attendance (as a servant) , fig. to give aid. In the King James, the word is ministry. Next we have Teaching - to teach, in a broad application. After that we come to Encourage - to call near, i.e. invite, call for, comfort, exhort, entreat, pray. I think the church and the world could use a good deal more of this gift. Next is Giving - to give. Simple enough, but Paul adds that it should be done generously, or in the King James with simplicity. Governing or Ruling - to organize, or take a leadership role, is the next one and lastly is the gift of Mercy - to be merciful. I believe this often equates to forgiveness.
Notice that all these are to be used in proportion to the faith possessed by the user. Everyone has some measure of faith. As your faith grows, your gifts should grow. Confidence in your ability to hear the voice of the Spirit and operate in your gifts should increase throughout your life - unless you stop offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice.
Now look as vs. 10.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
This is the mindset, the attitude that needs to be present in order for the gifts to be most effective. Our gifts are given to us to build up the body. It’s a great feeling to be used to touch someone’s life and minister to them and it works best when it operates through brotherly love.
I believe there are more grace gifts than what are listed in Romans. Perhaps you operated in one of those if you don’t see yourself in one of these. For example, I think hospitality can be a gift, also humor, or how about listening, or the ability to remain calm in a crisis. We should examine ourselves with God’s guidance to discover our gifts and pray for the grace to function in them well. And to God be the Glory!
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