November 20, 2016

The Gifts of the Spirit

This fall we have been looking at some of the various aspects of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is the promised Advocate or Helper that Jesus promised to his disciples at the Last Supper (John 14). God has given us the Spirit to live in us. This Spirit is still acting in our lives. We may not be aware and call something a coincidence or synchronicity. In reality, it is God working in our lives through the living Spirit to renew, empower, sanctify, comfort, and help us discern things. This results is the fruits of the Spirit that we looked at last week. The same Spirit also gives us ‘gifts’ that help us encourage and strengthen one another in our life work and play. (Fruits of the Spirit are attributes of our personality and Gifts of the Spirit are things that we do because of the Spirit working in us.)
In the First Letter to the Corinthians, we are told, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to 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. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
The Holy Spirit of God ‘activates’ the gifts as is individually and corporately needed. As the graphic says, a spiritual gift is “an ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in love to build up the church.” Using our gifts in Love is the key
I Corinthians 13 goes on to expound the best gift of the Spirit, which is indeed love. If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)
As we’ve seen in our fall meditations, the Spirit is a gift from God, promised by Jesus. The Spirit of the Living God is active in our lives to help us live out the Great Commandment to “love one another”. The Spirit gives us courage and strength to live into our ministry and life in community and in love.
Think about how each of the gifts of the Spirit is a manifestation of love. How can we allow the Spirit to help us more fully live out the mandate to Love one another?
Is there something you can do today or this week to make I Corinthians 13 visible in your life?

Next week we’ll enter Advent and do an interesting contemplation of what Matthew Fox calls Original Blessing. He calls this the way of the Via Positiva, Via Negativa, Via  Creativa, and Via Transformativa. We’ll look at how some familiar Christmas story participants experienced these 4 parts of God’s love.

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