Generosity comes in many shapes and sizes. I know a girl who constantly showers her friends and acquaintances with small gifts and tokens of her appreciation. I know a woman who delights to give extravagant gifts and a man whose ability to match his gifts to the personality and subtle preference of each recipient is astounding. There are people who give spontaneously and others who carefully plan their gifts. But no one gives like God. He is the source of every good thing, the perfection of grace, kindness, and generosity. He gives in all the good ways people give and then some.
The Holy Spirit of God maintains the pattern of extreme generosity seen in God the Father and Jesus his Son. He is, as the author of Hebrews notes, “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). This makes the subject of “Spiritual Gifts” pretty exciting. Let’s consider some basics.
First, all the gifts of the Spirit point us to Jesus. They are Christ-centered because He is Christ-centered. Jesus, promising the Spirit, said, “He will testify of me” (John 15:26). Paul begins his three-chapter treatise on spiritual gifts by pointing out that they testify to the lordship of Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3). An angel tells the apostle John, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). At Pentecost, the first group to speak in languages they had not learned was heard “declaring the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11) – presumably the mighty works of God so recently accomplished through Jesus.
Second, the gifts of the Spirit are the way we build the house and strengthen the body. They enable each of us to serve the church and to help bring her to maturity. This is a group project in which everyone plays a part. It’s far too important to be left to just the leaders. How are local churches led? What should church meetings look like? How are people saved and brought to maturity? The correct answers to all these questions have to do with gifts given by the Spirit.
The gifts of the Spirit are given to every believer. Everyone can contribute and is encouraged to ask for more gifts so they can contribute more. These gifts are beautifully diverse. Peter refers to them as “God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). There are lists, but no list is exhaustive. Specific gifts, like jewelry pieces, can be uniquely shaped. By the gifts of the Spirit we can bring consolation to the sorrowful, courage to the fearful, wisdom to the foolish, strength to the weak, and healing to the broken. They can make us more faithful, generous, perceptive, creative, hospitable, prophetic, administrative, evangelistic, or happily celibate. They enable us to build others up when we are together and to build ourselves up when we are alone with God. The gifts of the Spirit really are “gifts that keep on giving.”
Let’s eagerly desire them! Let’s ask for more for ourselves and for our churches. Let’s let them continue to shape us. Let’s manifest this beautiful diversity visible in our meetings. Let’s build the church with them and use them to proclaim Jesus as Lord.