The New Testament teaches that God has placed within each believer one or more spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are abilities given by the Holy Spirit for the believer to use in ministering to the body of Christ. The gifts are only effective when we utilize them in service of others. The greatest happiness, the fullest joy, and the most complete sense of belonging for a believer happens when he is focused on ministering to another in the name of Christ.
Paul writes much about the internal workings of the church in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and in this section of the Bible spiritual gifts are explained in some detail. In fact, Paul shares the primary purpose of spiritual gifts, and the message is so important he repeats it. Check it out.
So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV (Emphasis added)
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV (Emphasis added).
In the heart of his message on the church Paul includes his now famous passage on love. Without love the internal workings of the church fizzle and service proves fruitless. Spiritual gifts languish on the shelf and gather dust.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
Love is the key to serving others and spiritual gifts, though they may be honed to perfection, benefit no one if love is omitted. How does love apply to serving? Review Paul’s words.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Consider these aspects of love which should be in evidence as we practice our spiritual gifts in service of others.
- Love is patient with people no matter their maturity level.
- Love is kind even under stress.
- Love gives others the benefit of the doubt.
- Love does more than is expected.
- Love serves and keeps on serving.
- Love operates with confidence in God’s power.
- Love does not envy the success of others.
- Love does not boast of personal achievements.
- Love is courteous and respectful to everyone.
- Love does not demand its own way.
- Love is not easily irritated.
- Love does not resent the giftedness of others.
Before I step out to serve this weekend perhaps I need to look inward and verify that love for others is thriving inside me.