The Gifts Part 85
For the past few days, as I’ve been delving further and further into the three chapters of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians that deal with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, there has been something that I was noticing without really noticing it.
I don’t if you’ve ever had this happen to you, but I had the sense that I was missing a piece of the puzzle, I knew there was something that I was overlooking but I didn’t really know what it was. For me, knowing that there’s something I’m overlooking but not really knowing what it is, is one of the most frustrating things. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I get stuck on a certain verse or a certain chapter for days on end until blissful clarity finally comes, and I realize what I was missing all along.
Finally this morning, after rereading the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters of first Corinthians for what must have been the fiftieth time within the span of a couple weeks, I realized what was bothering me, and what it was that I wasn’t seeing.
Although the twelfth and fourteenth chapters of first Corinthians both deal with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, from what the gifts are, to how they are to be used within the congregation, the thirteenth chapter, the chapter that bridges the twelfth and fourteenth chapter is dedicated in exclusivity to love.
At first this might seem as an inappropriate place for a chapter on love, but as I continued to meditate on the significance of this, I realized that by divine inspiration, even the placement of the chapters within Paul’s writings had a message for us as believers and followers of Christ.
It’s as though by bridging the chapter on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the chapter on the orderly use of the gifts within the church with the chapter on love, through Paul, God is reminding His children that without true and godly love for the brethren, we will balk at, discount, or dismiss His command for order within the fellowship.
If I have no love in my heart for my brothers and sisters in Christ, then it will not bother me in the least that I am creating confusion in their midst, or that by my disorderly conduct I am causing them grief and consternation.
Lack of love makes us selfish, and if we have no love for the Body of Christ it will not bother us that we are only edifying ourselves while the rest of the Body is going without because of us.
Love for the brethren compels us to be orderly within the house of God, because just as we have come to a house of worship to be edified, love recognizes that everyone else who is present has come for the same reason.
Love is the bridge, as well as the foundation between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and using them in a responsible manner within the house of God. Love does not boast of the gifts it possesses, love is not proud of itself, love is not selfish looking toward its own interests, love puts the needs of others before its own, and desires that the entire Body be edified as one.
Paul’s need to implement certain rules and guidelines concerning the gift of speaking in tongues within the church at Corinth signifies two important things. The first thing Paul’s rules and guidelines signify is that the church at Corinth, which excelled in the gifts of the Holy Spirit didn’t understand the purpose of the gift of tongues, and this resulted in it being used improperly.
As with everything else, there is a time and place for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and when we dismiss this truth and use the gifts in improper settings or at improper times, even the best of gifts can have negative effects upon the congregation.
The second thing that Paul’s rules and guidelines signify is that the gift of speaking in tongues is as important and relevant as any of the other eight gifts that he outlined earlier in his letter to the Corinthian church.
Although as men we prize certain of the gifts above others, although as men we desire for ourselves the more bombastic and exciting gifts, in God’s eyes every gift is equal, each supplied to individuals that they might fulfill the callings to which they were called. If it helps, think of the work of the Holy Spirit as a toolbox, and the individual gifts of the Holy Spirit as tools in that toolbox. Each tool has a specific purpose, each tool has a specific task to perform, and when the Master Builder calls you to drive nails into wood He will give you a hammer, when He calls you to tighten loose screws He will give you a wrench, and when He calls you to paint walls He will give you a brush. The Master Builder provides the tools appropriate to the task you have been entrusted with, and in His wisdom He knows which tool goes where. If God asks you to paint a wall, He will not give you a hammer, nor will he give you a wrench when He calls you to hammer nails.
Be open and willing to serve, and when God calls you into His service not only will He assign you the duty you must perform, but give you the tools with which you will perform the assigned duty.
If only we would be humble in our service to God, and do as He commands, things would run far smoother within the church than they are presently. Problems arise, not because God hasn’t equipped those He has called, but rather because those He called feel as though that which they have been called to is beneath them somehow.
I’ve said it often enough in my sermons, and I will repeat it here, most Christians today want to be management, very few want to be labor, and though the harvest is ready, and plentiful, the laborers are few indeed.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.