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Gifts, Rambo, and a Cherry On Top

by Kevin Elliott  
1/04/2013 / Christian Living

Apostle (one who has seen Jesus after the Resurrection) Paul (formerly Saul, a persecutor of Christians--Acts 7:58, Acts 8:1, Acts 9:1-6) wrote a letter to the church of Corinth to offer advice to the new Christians there. In this letter, Paul wrote quite a bit about Spiritual Gifts and their application. I know that many people are confused about Spiritual Gifts even today, but there's really no reason to be confused. I want to clarify a few things, as made clear by Paul in his letter to the church of Corinth. I will address four key beliefs that are commonly held, but need to be reworked.

Belief #1: The Holy Spirit gives everyone the same gifts.

Belief #2: We are to use the gifts to edify ourselves and commune with God.

Belief #3: Spiritual Gifts are similar to, or on the same level as, fruit of the spirit or natural abilities.

Belief #4: We can ask for any gift we want and we will get it.

Belief #1: The Holy spirit gives everyone the same gifts.

I have a big issue with this belief. Think of it this way:
We are called the 'Body of Christ'. If we are a body and we all have the same gifts, that means the body is made up of the same part--a body cannot be constructed with only legs or only arms, or only hands, or only eyes. Each part has its own functions and uses--they work together, using their respective gifts to make sure the body operates like a well-oiled machine. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

Or you could imagine this:
In an army, each unit has soldiers specialized in a certain task. If each person carried all of the weapons from each specialization, 1) They would be overloaded, and 2) They wouldn't need anyone else to work with them--they'd be like Rambo. God doesn't want Rambo Christians, He wants specialized Soldiers who have learned how to use their assigned weapons properly.

1 Corinthians 12:11 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit gives certain gifts to each person. Here's the trick: How can we, as the Body of Christ, put our 'specializations' to work AS A GROUP to do our assigned work? We have to work TOGETHER to COMPLEMENT each others' gifts. The gift of healing is great on its own, but is more potent in conjunction with gifts like teaching, prophecy, and faith. Each gift is important on its own, and some people have been given several, but God wants us to work TOGETHER and use our gifts TOGETHER to be even more effective.

Or there's this example:
If each member in a rock band played the same instrument, how good would that sound?

We don't all have the same gifts, and none of us has been given ALL of the spiritual gifts. God doesn't want Rambos and He doesn't want people to operate alone. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs so that they can 1) lift each other up and keep each other strong in faith, and 2) use their respective gifts to back each other up and be more effective. (Mark 6:6-11).

Belief #2: We are to use the gifts to edify ourselves and commune with God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that our gifts are not for ourselves, especially not during Worship. (vv. 1-25 & 39-40) Our gifts should be used wisely--strategically--to 1) reach as many lost souls as possible, 2) edify each other, and 3) worship God. It should never be about us and how we feel. Here's a philosophy for you to think about: If each person is looking out for, and taking care of, at least one other person in the world, at least one other person will be taking care of us, so why worry about ourselves and how we feel? If we lift each other up properly, someone is bound to be lifting us up. Yes, we can use our gifts to be close to God, but that's only half of our purpose.

There are two reasons for life: 1) To Worship God, and 2) To reach the lost. That's it. It should never be about ourselves. In order to accomplish those two objectives, however, we do have to lift each other up as the Body of Christ. The foot can't do all of the work.

Belief #3: Spiritual Gifts are similar to, or on the same level as, fruit of the spirit or natural abilities.

Non-Christians and Christians alike have natural abilities that are very similar (musically-, mathematically-, scientifically-, artistically-, conversationally-talented). Satan worshipers can sing just as well as Christians can. Natural abilities are things we all learn to do or are able to do from birth. Fruit of the Spirit and Spiritual Gifts are things that are inspired by, and provided by, the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit are called Fruit because they require a lot of time and work to be able to grow. It's hard to instantly love someone, be instantly filled with joy, or instantly control yourself (Galatians 5:22-26 for full listing)--these are things that take time to develop. GIFTS are things we can use instantly upon inviting the Holy Spirit to come into our lives. These are things we cannot learn to do on our own--we need someone else (God) to work these through us. WE don't instantly heal people--Jesus does. WE don't speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit guides our spirit to do so. WE don't develop full faith on our own--God strengthens us to grow. The spiritual gifts can be found in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 & 28, and Ephesians 4:11. So, natural abilities are things humans are born with to be able to survive and contribute, fruit of the spirit are attitudes and abilities the Holy Spirit teaches us to nurture and develop over time, and the spiritual gifts are "abilities" that we are to use (we receive them instantly upon inviting God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit--the Trinity, three in one--into our lives) for God's Kingdom. Also note that some gifts don't come until later. The Holy Spirit decides when a person needs, or can use, a certain gift. This is explained further in the next section.

Belief #4: We can ask for any gift we want and we will get it.

It's not up to us--we can't pick and choose our gifts. If we believe that we have received a gift that the Holy Spirit did not put upon us, we may be playing with demons, so be careful. Trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the tools you need when you need them. 1 Corinthians 12:11: "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit (the Holy Spirit), and he distributes them to each one (of us), just as he determines." God calls the shots and gives the gifts He knows we will need in serving Him and serving others. Don't ask for extras that you think you WANT--God will give you the Cherry-On-Top if He knows you'll NEED it. Why ask for the gift of healing if you're afraid to go near sick and dying people? Why ask for the gift of teaching if you're afraid to talk to others? God knows what you're capable of doing--let Him lead and ask Him to help you see what you have and where you need to be. It's as simple as that.

I beg all of you: When you are able to understand which gifts were given to you, find a way to use them appropriately as soon as possible! Pray for understanding and realizations so that you know what your gifts are and how He wants you to use them. None of us are to be a Rambo Christian and we are not meant to work alone. Ask God to put you with your 'Unit' and get you going on your 'Mission'. Work with your 'Unit' to learn how to make your gifts work together. Work as a group, 'move' as a group, and let Jesus shine for all to see!

1 Corinthians 12: 12-14 "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one bodywhether Jews or Gentiles, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many."

Copyright (c) 2011, Kevin A Elliott.

Kevin Elliott is a psychology student, game designer (, and writer of many genres. He seeks to use his training, experience, and goals to reach out to everyone he can in Jesus' name.

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