For the past two days, the Spirit has lead me to this scripture:
1 Cor. 12:1-31
And now, dear brothers and sisters, I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, for I must correct your misunderstandings about them. You know that when you were still pagans you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know how to discern what is truly from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one is able to say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
to continue reading this scripture, go here.
Paul then goes on to write the famous chapter of scripture which is known as the "love chapter", 1 Corinthians 13. As a former church organist, I can say without doubt that this scripture must be read at every wedding I have ever attended or played for. But do we really know what it says?
It comes immediately after the chapter about the gifts of the spirit and how as the body of Christ we are all connected and all have different purposes, uses and gifts. Yes, gifts. Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:29-31:
Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts. First, however, let me tell you about something else that is better than any of them!
Read The Love Chapter
All the other gifts will become useless, but the one who has the ability to love, the gift of being able to love others will never pass away. It is the greatest gift of all. Christians get all worked up about being able to prophesy or speak in tongues or work miracles and all these other important, glorious gifts which seem to bring credit to the one who has been given the gift, but just like all the other incredible parts of the gospel, it is the small, inconspicuous gift that is the most important. It is the gift of love, one that we can all practice and ask God to perfect in us that is the most vital gift of all. And yes, we can ALL practice it in the smallest, non-noticeable, non-attention-getting ways every day, every minute of our lives. As we practice love, by helping the underprivileged, reaching out to the lonely elderly woman or man down the street or in the nursing home, taking time to care about the child whose parents are never around or giving financially to an organization who helps the hungry, poor and suffering all around the world, we are doing it to Him. Yes, Him, our Father, our Creator, our Savior, Jesus Christ. His word says that when we do it for the "least of these", we do it to Him. I can't think of a better way to show our love for Him and for our brothers and sisters, can you?
Lord, it is my prayer today that you will perfect this gift in me. I have your spirit in me, so I know that I have the gift of love, for you ARE love. So, perfect it Father. Lead me to the ones you have chosen for me to show your love to. Open my eyes and ears and my spirit to the call of your voice. I ask it for the sake of the kingdom in Jesus' name. Amen.
I received the following comment from my friend "Wendyworn", author of the Wake Up People blog and I feel that I should share them here for edification and discussion. I need to point out that I usually read from the King James Bible but use the New Living Translation in this blog for ease of reading. The KJV verse 30 does not use verbage claiming that "no," we do not all receive the same statuses or gifts as the NLT does.
I have always thought, myself, that God in His wisdom gave gifts to people based on who they are as individuals, and that all the gifts are equal, none better or less than the other (because God is no respecter of persons) but Wendyworn sees it this way:
I think what you have written in your latest post is very very important. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit is leading you to read I Corinthians 12 - 14. You are so right about love being the key to all of it, the Holy Spirit and God's Word and this whole life. Love is THE most important part and I also believe the hardest to achieve. Which is why we are unable to do this on our own, but that the Lord works on us, to change us from being "us" to forming Christ in us, which is the image of God - which is love. Awesome.
I am however, concerned with the bible version that you were quoting, because I think that version twists the scripture just enough to change the meaning. Here is I Cor 12: 7-11 from the King James version, (I'm not saying that the King James version is the only correct version, but please read this next part because it does change the meaning)
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
There is the one gift of Holy Spirit - which we both know you already have. But that one spirit has nine manifestations listed. But verse seven clearly states that the manifestations of the spirit are given to EVERY MAN. Verse 11 seems confusing but it isn't if you understand it like this (my comments in parenthesis). "But all these (the manifestations) worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit (the Holy Spirit in you that you get when you are born again, that we both know you already have in you) dividing to every man severally as he (the man who has the spirit - meaning you and me) will."
God is not a respector of persons. He does not give some people tongues and not others. And also the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. God does not possess people. He has already given you the Holy Spirit. The other bible version makes it sound like the Holy Spirit for whatever reason has chosen not to give you the gift of tongues. That is SO FALSE. The adversary does not want you to manifest speaking in tongues because then you have one more weapon in your spritual arsenal against him. It is absolutely the Lord's Will that you manifest speaking in tongues. (I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, but I am trying to help you, please know - you can already manifest speaking in tongues - you just don't know it yet.)"
Thank you, Wendyworn for these great and encouraging comments. I guess I interpreted verse 11 to say that all the manifestations of the gifts were distributed by the Spirit individually as "he will".
I would love to hear any reader's thoughts on this. What do you think?