In an individualistic culture like the United States, it’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking about God only in terms of our personal relationship with Him.
There’s no doubt that’s important. When Jesus was talking with his disciples during their “private retreat” to Caesarea Philippi, he asked them two questions. The first was who did people say he was. After giving them a chance to answer, he zeroed in with the question of vital importance.
“Who do YOU say that I am?”
While our relationship with God depends on how we answer that very personal question, it doesn’t stop there.
We are a fellowship of sisters and brothers with the whole being much greater than the sum of the parts. The importance of the whole versus just the parts extends to the gifts of the Spirit.
While each gift of the Spirit is a personal blessing, that’s not their main purpose.
Paul made that clear in 1 Corinthians 12:4-5.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” (NIV)
The gifts Paul goes on to describe in verses 8-10 are many and varied: wisdom, knowledge, faith, the gift of healing, miraculous powers, prophesy, distinguishing spirits, speaking in different tongues, and interpreting tongues.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
The Spirit gives to each of us as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:11). Whatever we receive, it’s going to be for the common good, not just for ourselves.
So when I long and pray for a particular gift, I shouldn’t be too disappointed if I don’t receive it at that time. My failure to receive that gift doesn’t mean I’m not as good a Christian as someone who did. It just means God has different service assignments for each of us.
Every gift is for the common good. Each equips us for a particular type of service. God calls each of us to serve, but not in the same way. For whatever service He calls us, He will equip us with exactly the gifts we need. It’s not our place to question whether He’s made the right choice about what to give us. Our job is to give thanks for what we receive and then go serve.
May I always be content with the gifts He’s given me and eager to use them for the service He’s calling me to!
How are you being called to serve with the gifts the Spirit has given you right now?