Now we come to the object of our warnings, preparation and training, the power tool itself: gifts of the Spirit. In the job that we have been given to perform in being given the opportunity to be part of the construction of God’s body of believers, we are also equipped with special power tools. Depending on the job we are assigned, we need and are given a different tool.
Paul’s message first and foremost is, whatever tool you have been given, use it. The tool is not a decoration. It isn’t something to put on a shelf. It is a tool and tools are to be used in building. He gives examples of some of the tools: prophesying, teaching, serving, etc. This is not an all-encompassing list, but only a few examples and admonishes to go with them. The job of any craftsman is to fully execute the use of their tools in their craft.
In 1 Corinthians 12, these are called the Gifts of the Spirit. We need to pay close attention to that title. They are not the gifts from the Spirit, they are the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts belong to the Spirit. The Spirit resides in us, as believers, and He brings gifts into our life. All of our talents and interests are from God, but talents and interests are not the same as the Gifts of the Spirit. I may be 7 feet tall and have a talent of reaching high things. I may be very petite and nimble and able to move through a crowd with natural grace. Those talents and everything about me are from God, but they are different.
The gifts of the Spirit are the tools that God gives me to perform the work that He calls me to do. When He calls me into new work, it may require new tools. Just as there are seasons of the year, they may be seasons in my life that I am called into different areas of work and God may supply different tools of and through the Holy Spirit. God may also use the talents He has given me, but more often than not, the areas of highest impact into which we are called to serve are those completely outside of our natural strengths and areas of comfort. Remember that Moses argued with God that he was not a gifted speaker for God to use him as the mouthpiece to Pharaoh. But, over and over again, we see that God uses the small, the weak, the few, the outcasts, the misfits, the sinners, even coming as the son of a carpenter to a couple from Bethlehem. It is in all of these ways that God is glorified. The mighty things accomplished are not from those we would expect with their innate abilities. The lasting things come from those who rely fully on the power in the tools of the Spirit.
I don’t have an issue with gifts assessments that are used in some of our churches, but I think we need to keep in mind that they are only a snapshot of a single frame in the movie of our life. If it reveals that I have a Gift of the Spirit present in my life at this time, then, as Paul says, I need to be using that gift diligently, cheerfully and fully. But that does not mean that the Holy Spirit, alive and powerful in me, is limited to only that gift/tool.
1C7: Each has their own gift from God
1C12: Different gifts, all from the Spirit, different service, one Lord, different working, same God
E4: Believers’ gifts from Christ to build up the body until all reach unity in faith and maturity
1P4: Do all things through the gift and power of God for His Glory
Prophesying, In accordance with your faith
Serving, then serve
Teaching, then teach
Encouraging,then give encouragement
Giving, then give generously
Leading, do it diligently
Mercy, do it cheerfully
Giving, Teaching and Encouraging.