12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.
4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. (I Corinthians 12:1-11 The Message)
First Church, Corinth: Spiritually Gifted. Service Minded. Doers.
Also: Competitive. Easily Led Astray. Individualistic.
This fledgling congregation was birthed in the midst of a cosmopolitan city. Poverty rates were high. Probably 30% of the population were slaves.
They lived in a society grounded in honor/shame. If you behaved dishonorably, you dishonored your patron. Behave properly and “mind your betters” kept you save from shame.
The Corinthian Church members had to make their way through this system of patronage and the worship of a variety of gods. They couldn’t help bringing their culture into their church.
Paul reminds these fledgling congregants that they live in the world, but they are not of the world. They’re behavior must be honorable to God. By behaving in a dishonorable manner, they dishonor God. For Christians, their patron took second seat.
There’s so much he has to teach them. So much they have to learn about being honorable Christians. In this particular part of the letter Paul turns to spiritual gifts. No one gift is better than another. And remember that if God is their Patron, than we honor God when we worship Jesus and affirm that “Jesus is Lord.”
That’s a big deal. Our every action and our very words tell others who we worship. When we honor others and speak wisely, we honor God and we are saying, “Jesus is Lord.” On the other hand, when we accept the world view of life and behave disrespectfully, we dishonor God and we’re saying in so many words, “Let Jesus be cursed!”
How do we affirm Jesus as Lord? One way, is through “Spiritual Re-gifting.” Re-gifting is both popular and infamous these days. If we receive a gift that doesn’t suit our needs, we can push it to the back of the closet, give it away or wrap it up for someone else. Many say that re-gifting shows a lack of respect to the original giver. That when you fail to put the gift to use, you’re dishonoring yourself and the one who gifted you.
Each and every one of us are gifted. The Holy Spirit gifts us in many different ways. Contrary to culture, these gifts are meant be given away! If you’re a teacher, teach. If you’re a healer, heal. If you’re a giver, be generous. Spiritual gifts aren’t meant to be held onto not used.
In John’s Gospel we read about Jesus’ first “sign.” This sign occurred while he was attending a wedding in Cana with his mother. Any wedding was the event of the season and the celebration lasted for days. To run out of wine was to dishonor yourself and your guests. It just couldn’t happen!
At this particular wedding, though, it did. There was nothing the host could do. He had nothing left in his storeroom to offer his guests. Jesus’ mother encourages him to do something about it. He orders the servants to fill up six stone water jars with water. They did as they were told. Then he told them to draw some of the water so that the wine steward could taste it. They did.
Jesus blessed the host with the very best wine. He expected the host to give the wine to his guests.
The wine steward was impressed beyond measure with the quality and quantity of this wine. “You’ve saved the best for last!” What the servants knew and the steward didn’t know, was that Jesus had produced wine from water.
Jesus made it happen. The servants were entrusted to serve it. They weren’t to keep it to themselves — they were to give it away. A form of Spiritual Re-Gifting!
What gifts do you share for the common good? What has God given you that you’ve re-gifted, perhaps multiple times?
I believe you’re doing it already. And as you come to realize what you’re doing, I trust that you’ll do more of it.
Spiritual re-gifting honors God, honors you and, most of all, honors the recipient.
One Spirit. Many gifts. Many ministries. Many Deeds.
Give it away and see what comes back.
All glory and honor be to God.