“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God Who empowers them all in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Everybody likes gifts. There are few things more exciting than waking up on Christmas morning and tearing into the presents that bear our names. Some gifts are practical, while others are just to make you laugh. But no matter the use, the gifts we enjoy the most are from people who know and love us. They are able to get us things that we truly cherish, because they understand who we are and what we like to do. In the same way, God gives us gifts through His own Spirit, enabling us to serve Him in His church.
There are quite a few spiritual gifts, as the Apostle Paul liked to call them. Things like prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, and more are all gifts from God that help us in whatever task He is calling us to do. And while everyone could do a little bit of everything, God grants us each different gifts so that we specialize, so to speak, in several areas. Some people may be excellent teachers, while others thrive in doing acts of mercy. No gift is better than another; all are equal in God’s sight. All of these gifts are ways to serve Him, and as His followers, it’s our job to figure out how to best use what He has given us for His glory.
The Corinthian church had several issues with this concept. Many of them saw the gift of tongues and longed to have it, as they considered it to be more spiritual than any of the other gifts. But Paul rebuked them for this, arguing that every gift has its purpose. Tongues was no better than the others; indeed, it was rather useless if there were no one to interpret for the one speaking in tongues. Every gift should instead be used for the edification of the church as a whole. God’s wisdom is evident in how He has divided gifts amongst multiple people; in this way, we come to realize that we need one another. We may be able to do some things for God on our own, but when our gifts are combined with those of others, the fruits are exponentially greater. This is why God gives us the gifts of His Spirit: He expects us to use them for the betterment of His church and for the spread of the Gospel. Using them for our own glory is never the purpose; we must use them for God.