Tuesday: The Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts

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Read Romans 12:3-8 and Ephesians 4:8-12. What is the purpose of the spiritual gifts that God gives us?

The spiritual gifts were clearly given for service, not for our sanctification. They are not miraculous tricks that satisfy our curiosity, nor are they given as an antidote to boredom. Often we think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in terms of filling our spiritual needs, or as empowering us in our walk with God.

Holy Spirit and the Word

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The result is a view of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that is more Christian-centered than Christ-centered. It is more focused on us than on God. When we try to recover a God-centered perspective of the spiritual gifts, we realize that the gifts God gives fulfill multiple divine purposes: they are given to further the unity of the church and for building up the church (Eph. 4:12-16). They are given to carry on the divinely commissioned ministry of the church (Eph. 4:11-12). And ultimately they are given to glorify God (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

This is the reason why the gifts are never given to please us. They are to edify others (1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:12, 1 Cor. 14:26). They are given to bring spiritual profit and edification to the whole church. It is a tragedy when God’s gifts, which are supposed to foster unity in the church, are misused so that only certain individuals are elevated. When this happens, individuals receive undue prominence. This in turn fosters disunity and gives room to divisiveness.

Too often we think about spiritual gifts only in terms of ability and talents that we receive. While talents are involved in spiritual gifts, we should keep in mind that in bestowing a spiritual gift the Holy Spirit also always gives a specific task or ministry that goes along with it (1 Pet. 4:10). Thus, we might say that spiritual gifts are certain capacities given supernaturally by God through the Holy Spirit. These gifts fit the person for a special type of service that will build up the church. To reach that goal, diverse gifts are needed.

Why do you think a primary purpose of the gifts is church unity? How can believers with different gifts aim at unity in the church? What needs to take place so that different gifts in the church become a blessing rather than a source of division?

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