V 12 Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.
I’m writing these notes in the period leading up to Christmas when many of us are thinking ‘What on earth can I give …?.’ The choices seem unusually plain this time round; more than ever it has not been .What will X enjoy? but What can be shared for a household to enjoy? We are thinking of gifts that can be shared rather than be selfishly enjoyed. (By the time you get to read these notes we shall know if we did it right!)
Today’s reading is about the Holy Spirit’s gift of speaking in tongues. It seems that the Christians in Corinth really wanted this gift of ecstatic speech, but their desires were self-centred. Expressing the gift brought personal blessing. ‘ A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally’ (v 4), writes Paul, but he urges them to look more widely and consider the needs of others; to desire gifts that will bring blessing to the wider Church community. Earlier in the letter, chapter 12, he writes ‘A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.’
God the Holy Spirit gifts people with special abilities; but these gifts are to be used for the benefit of all.
How has the Holy Spirit gifted you, and how do you use it to benefit others?