10th June 2011

The Christian’s Got Talent!

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV UK)

The Spirit’s got talent, and he shares it with believers.

The Corinthians were eager to express giftedness wherever and whenever they could. They knew a lot about getting gifts from their previous worship of Greek gods. For example, by consulting Apollo you were supposed to be blessed with a prophecy about your personal destiny. If you went to see the priestess of Athena, you could get a word of wisdom. Healing from the god of healing, victory from the god of war, all these and more were on offer in ancient Corinth. You went to different gods in order to get different gifts. Christian giftedness, however, all comes from one divine source…the Spirit.

When the Corinthians accepted the grace of God in Christ Jesus, they tried to leave false notions behind them. But some old thoughts persisted, especially the idea of worshipping in order to get. Also, they saw gifts as a way of ordering church life, as happened in pagan temple worship. They wanted destiny churches and healing churches and gift-focused congregations. Paul reminded them that chasing after your own spirituality and giftedness was less important than following love, which is what God is all about. All of life is about love. You might desire gifts eagerly, said Paul, but “follow the way of love” (14:1).

The Corinthians used various gifts as spiritual benchmarks to compare themselves among themselves. Paul thought that was nonsense. The gifts are not yours anyway, he stressed, they belong to God. They exist in order to build up the church, not to tear it down. Gifts are to be expressed in the context of love. Gifts, after all, are also given for the purpose of announcing salvation (see Hebrews 2:3-4), not for announcing oneself.

Paul’s comment that gifts exist throughout the whole of the church was meant to encourage, not to cause anxiety. He was not promoting gifts analyses and testing as happens today in our “pop” psychology society. When he names the gifts, he is saying how thankful we should be for each other and for the giftedness the Spirit has placed within the Body of Christ.

“And now I will show you a more excellent way”, Paul expounded (1 Corinthians 12:30). More excellent than pursuing your own gifts. That way, we know, is love. Christians have love because the Holy Spirit dwells in them.

The love of God, the indwelling Spirit and the gifts he brings, the power of Christ’s salvation message – there’s no doubt that the Christian’s got talent!

Thank you, Father, for the gift of salvation in Christ, and for the giftedness of the Spirit who dwells in us.

Study by James Henderson

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