1 CORINTHIANS 12:1-11
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.
4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to 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. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Did you catch the emphasis in this passage? "Same Spirit," "same Lord," "same God," again, "same Spirit," "one Spirit," same Spirit."
Why this repetitive stress on this notion of "same"?
It is to correct the false view that many Corinthian believers had about spiritual gifts. Given their pagan, Greco-Roman background, many believers thought that a particular "spiritual gift" came from a particular "spirit." Think of the Nine Muses of Greek Mythology. Muses were deities/"gods" that inspired artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, and others with their respective creative ideas and energies.
The Corinthian believers applied this "muse-like" understanding to the diverse spiritual gifts that they experienced and witnessed in the Corinthian church. They falsely believed that many different "spirits" from God were at work whenever there was a manifestation of different gifts.
In response to this misunderstanding, the Apostle Paul explained that that is simply not the case. All the different gifts that they saw were the manifestations of the same Holy Spirit. One Spirit, many gifts. One Spirit, many different manifestations. To think otherwise would mean that they would end up believing in many different "spirits" -- taking them back to their pagan days when "[they] were enticed and led astray to idols..." (v. 2).
Implicit in affirming that the different gifts come from the same Spirit is the inherent importance of unity and the equality of the gifts themselves since their source is the same. (These implications, Paul will spell out in detail a bit later.)
If the source of the different gifts is the same -- the Holy Spirit -- then it is also true that their purpose is the same as well -- "for the common good" (v. 7). The different spiritual gifts are all intended to bless people ("the common good"). The variety of gifts speaks of the various different ways that God chooses to bless people. Some are communicative, like prophecy, others are for physical well-being, like healing, and others are for spiritual warfare, like discernment of spirits. The nine gifts listed in the passage should not be taken as an exhaustive list. Paul gives a sampling, an important sampling of different gifts.
As we understand more clearly the Biblical perspective on spiritual gifts, the more we will appreciate these gifts and the better we will exercise these gifts in their proper contexts knowing that these gifts are for the common good. May the Lord activate more spiritual gifts/manifestations in our lives this year!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, thank for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the whole spectrum of manifestations of the Spirit for the common good. May we embrace your gifts. May we celebrate the One who gives these gifts. May we recognize that out of your love and your purpose to equip and strengthen and heal and deliver your people and others, you have released and are releasing these gifts, for your glory and for our benefit. In your name, amen.