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Seek earnestly for spiritual gifts
- Jacob Ninan
There are three chapters in the Bible devoted to spiritual gifts. 1Co.12 explains spiritual gifts, 13 describes love with which they are to be exercised, and 14 talks about avoiding misuse. 14:1 exhorts us to seek earnestly after spiritual gifts. Yet some people teach that gifts have all ceased! If they argue that ch.12,14 were only meant for dealing with some problems in the Corinthain church and not meant to be applied to us, then why don't we throw out 13 too?
One thing we must realise is that spiritual work cannot be done with our natural strengths, skills or abilities but only with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The 'natural man' cannot even understand the things of God (1Co.2:14). This truth is ignored in practice by a majority of Christians who exalt naturally gifted people who sing, speak or manage the stage. But such work will not last the test of eternity and will one day get burned up (1Co.3:11-15). The gifted ones are the heroes and not the godly ones!
God has a work for every one in the body of Christ, and for that He gives each one gifts that are needed for those tasks. God sovereignly gives each one different gifts (1Co.12:11), and so, even if we are tempted to ask for prominent gifts that will fetch us a great name before others, we must humbly submit to His specific choice for us. If we truly understand the purpose of these gifts, which is to serve and bless others (v.7), we can spepcifically ask for those gifts that can enhance the effectiveness of the ministry He has entrusted to us. Let's not seek for gifts for our own sake. Usually God will indicate to us the ministry He has for us by giving us a particular burden that comes from seeing a need in some area. It is when we start seeking for God to do something about those needs that He tells us to do something from our side to meet those needs (Mt.14:15,16). Then when we seek for grace and wisdom to do those things He anoints us with spiritual gifts that equip us to do those ministries.
For centuries after the days of the early church, the mainline churches had become worldly and lost their relationship with God and the burden for His work. It was only natural that spiritual gifts ceased in their midst! But the word of God still remains for all who will believe. The reformation that started with Martin Luther is not finished but it is continuing even now in spurts here and there. These days when spiritual issues have become very complicated in the world and even among the churches, how much more we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to serve one another! Let each of us earnestly seek for spiritual gifts so that we can serve the body of Christ better. Let us not limit God to only those gifts that are mentioned in 1Cor.12, because there are varieties of gifts (v.6) that God wants to spread around among His people. We don't even need to wait for recognition or designations from people to do what God tells us to do.