God Has Given Us Unique Spiritual Gifts

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As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… – 1 Peter 4:10

“Brothers and sisters: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression 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 varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” (First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 12:4-11)

Note that Paul is talking about the spiritual gifts here; the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All of these are unique to the individual, but all come from the same Spirit.

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Wisdom is recognized among us because it is always used in service of the good, the moral good. Knowledge is a basic human need. It has everything to due with our survival, our ability to participate in and to improve the world we live in. Faith is the greatest gift of the Spirit. It is the ground out of which all of the other gifts draw their nourishment and strength. Healing and tongues, and the interpretation of tongues are rare gifts.

The Spirit give gifts to all of us. Though we are all different, possessing very different skills, intellectual and physical capacities, it is the same Spirit that gives us these very special and unique things. The Spirit gives the spiritual gifts to us according to our unique capacities. The Spirit knows these capacities and gives out these gifts to those who will use them well and appropriately.

The importance of this reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is, of course, that all of these many and varied gifts are from One Spirit alone. Each of the gifts has only one, unique source, the Spirit of God. Because of this, they will be recognized by the real, identifiable good that results from them in the real world. That which comes from the source of all that is good, can produce only that which is good.

It is true also that there are charlatans in this world, who masquerade as God’s gifted ones. They abuse the trust of the innocent for their own purposes. They are often successful, for a time, but their disguises ultimately fail them. And the suffering they leave in their wake is truly terrible. The fact is that their “gifts” are not from the Spirit of God, but from the Enemy of God. They, too, will eventually be known by the fruits of their actions.

The Christian must always be awake and aware, knowledgeable and wise, in order to recognize the true gifts of the Holy Spirit in him, or her self, and in others. The Christian must be awake and aware, knowledgeable and wise, so that he/she will be able to recognize the charlatan as well. Faith, patient endurance, forgiveness, compassion, the capacity to love even our enemies, and prayer, are all gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, for our own good and for the good of our brothers and sisters.

We can be confident that the Holy Spirit knows what our spiritual strengths and weaknesses are, and that the Holy Spirit will give us no more, or no less, than what we are capable of handling. Trust in the Spirit’s wisdom, and give thanks for your gifts by using them in the name of Jesus. God will do the rest.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.