Spiritual Gifts Activated
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Today’s sermon focuses on the gifts that the Holy Spirit offers to us. There are many kinds of Spiritual gifts we are given. I ask you, what are your spiritual gifts? Sometimes, it could be what comes easy to you and not so easy for others. Paul, in verse 1, says, “I do not want you to be uninformed.” This means that the members of the Corinthian church have their own spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit and the gifts should be shared with others. So, here is another question. Have you showed your spiritual gifts to others?
Here is a funny story about showing one’s own talent to others. A man is pulled over by a police officer for a broken headlight. The cop looks in the car and sees a collection of knives on the backseat.
“Sir,” the officer said. “Why do you have all those knives?”
“They’re for my juggling act,” the man replied.
“Prove it,” said the cop.
So, the man gets out of the car and begins juggling the knives just as two men drive by.
“Man,” says one guy. “I’m glad I quit drinking. These new sobriety tests are too hard for me.”
Truly, the guy juggling the knives was showing his own gift. I wondered if we can call that a spiritual gift. But when we translate spiritual gifts as “those gifts which the Holy Spirit offers,” then, the knife juggling could be a gift because I understand everything in our lives, bodies, and souls are the gifts from the Holy Spirit.
When it comes to the spiritual gifts, it is important not to be “uninformed” about something as central to the faith, especially for people coming from outside the church, in which they had a whole different orientation.
Our lives are full of Spiritual gifts and they can be the same as others have, or they can be unique. Sometimes we don’t know that we have the gifts from the Holy Spirit. So with the Corinthians. Therefore, in the opening of I Corinthians, Paul assures the Corinthians that they are not lacking in any gifts that the Holy Spirit has to offer. They have various gifts to share with others and to use for God, their church and their neighbors.
The first gift that Paul points to is the ability to confess that Jesus is Our Lord. When considering God’s gifts, Paul says, we always need to begin by getting one thing straight. The central “gift” of the Spirit is our common confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. If we do not have faith, we cannot confess that Jesus is Christ and our Lord. This confession, empowered by the event of the cross and resurrection, binds this community and all Christian communities together in a unity that overarches all our differences. It is a gift in which we all share by the word and promise of God. The confession is the first and most important gift that the Holy Spirit offered to us.
Another gift is wisdom. Wisdom is a key gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul earlier speaks of the mysterious wisdom of God that belongs to the event of the cross and resurrection. This wisdom gives us the ability to make distinctions and to assess the implications of real life situation. Paul invites the Corinthians to join him in using that gift in assessing and living with differences in the community.
The important thing is that the distributions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not arbitrary. They are given with particularity and with purpose for the common good. Paul calls attention to the bonds of diversity and unity that belongs to the gifts of the Spirit. Three times he speaks of the diversity of the distribution. Three times in the same passage, he calls attention to the unity of the giver in a telling Trinitarian formula: same Spirit, same Lord (Jesus), same God. It is the power of the Trinity that enables all things in every circumstance and in all persons. The Spirit’s gifts are diverse and particular but in each situation they are energized by the one and the same Spirit. All of this takes place ‘according to the Spirit’s will.’
Again, I ask you this question. What are your Spiritual gifts? We are living in the first month of this year. In order for us to live a better life before God and the world, we should try to find and develop our gifts. Every day we should try to listen to the voice of the Spirit.
A famous baseball player, Mark McGwire once said, “When I feel that ball hit right on the sweet spot, a home run is just around the corner.” I believe that when we serve Jesus from our spiritual sweet spot, a spiritual home run is just around the corner. God has given us a gift of a sweet spot so that we can serve God and produce the maximum result and maximum satisfaction both for God and for us.
For 2013, let us serve God, our church, and our neighbors with our spiritual gifts. Let’s not stop confessing that Jesus is Lord. Let the wisdom from the Holy Spirit work in us and guide our lives and our ministry. For 2013, we have visions for our church ministry. That is,
1) Serving God and our church with our whole heart.
2) Using our talents and spiritual gifts for God, our church and neighbors.
3) And inviting much more people living in Chilmark and on this Island, and celebrating the coming of the people to God.
I believe that it is what a church needs to do. As a pastor, I will whole heartedly engage in this ministry to accomplish these visions by using my gifts given from the Holy Spirit. Also, I invite all of you who share these visions to join me in this ministry. Let’s work together for God, our church and our neighbors. The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom. The Holy Spirit will guide us to the goal of our church. Now all spiritual gifts are activated by one and the same Spirit. Today, the Holy Spirit says to us,
“I do not want you to be uninformed.”
Let us pray,
Loving God, we give thanks to you for the gifts you have given to us. For 2013, help us to fully develop the gifts and use them with your wisdom and love. In your name, we pray. Amen