15 - XV -- Gifts of the Spirit
12 Oct, 2008 AM
Tree of Life Wesleyan Church
XV. The Gifts of the Spirit
During the minister’s prayer, there was a loud whistle from the congregation. Gary’s mother was horrified. Later she asked “Gary, whatever made you do that?” Gary answered soberly, “I asked God to teach me to whistle, and just then He did!”
A hot-headed woman told John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.” Replied Mr. Wesley, “Woman, God wouldn’t care a bit if you would bury that talent.”
Over the past few weeks we have been talking about the Holy Spirit and last week we talked about one of the greatest things that He brings is sanctification. But there is more – the Holy Spirit brings gifts for all of God’s children. Article 15 of the Wesleyan articles of religion is “The Gifts of the Spirit,” and it states:
We believe that the Gift of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself, and He is to be desired more than the gifts of the Spirit which He in His wise counsel bestows upon individual members of the Church to enable them properly to fulfill their function as members of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit, although not always identifiable with natural abilities, function through them for the edification of the whole church. These gifts are to be exercised in love under the administration of the Lord of the church, not through human volition (or will). The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the church and not by the ecstasy (or happiness or delight) produced in the ones receiving them. (Discipline)
We all enjoy receiving gifts – some more than others – but there’s something about receiving something that’s unexpected or undeserved. It makes us feel good about ourselves and lets us know that we are cared about by the other person. As we grow older we realize that it’s not so much the gift that does this as it is the giver that means so much to us. And once we realize this, the gift seems to mean more to us. My boys mean more to me than any gift that they can give me, and yet, they know me so well that they are able to pick gifts that are truly for me. We’ve all been there. Standing in the store saying, “I have no idea what they want or need – here let’s just get this.” And it’s something that they will never use. But when we really know the person – we are able to give them gifts that they can use. God does the same thing. He knows us and He has sent His Holy Spirit to us, to live in us – this in it’s self is such a wonderful gift but there are those in the Christian religion that don’t look at it this way -- they believe that the gift is more important. Just look at what Jesus asks in Luke 11— “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
We believe that the Gift of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself. You see, the first thing that God wants to give us is the Holy Spirit. He does not just jump in there and give us a spiritual gift that we may not be able to use – He gives the Holy Spirit first and He is to be desired more than the gifts of the Spirit which He in His wise counsel bestows upon individual members of the Church.
There are some religions which will tell you that you are not spiritual unless you have certain spiritual gifts – they fail to realize that the most important gift is the Holy Spirit Himself!! The Holy Spirit is to be desired more than any of the gifts that He gives. And He is a gift. Luke records the words of Peter in Acts the 2nd chapter: Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Did you catch that? You will receive The Gift of the Holy Spirit. And this gift was not only for those during the time of Peter, it is also for all who were far off – that’s us!! It’s for all who call upon the Lord for the forgiveness of sins!!
This gift is given to the Church to enable them properly to fulfill their function as members of the body of Christ. Paul tells us in Romans : Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Article 15 goes on to say: The gifts of the Spirit, although not always identifiable with natural abilities, function through them for the edification of the whole church. Not all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are easily identifiable – but all are to be used for the edification of the entire church. If you have a gift and refuse to use it, you are hurting the church, you are hurting your bothers and sisters in Christ – for your gifts are to be used to lift the church up. Sometimes when we discover our gifts or someone notices our gifts some tend to get a little puffed up – we forget that it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us these gifts, and the Holy Spirit knows what gifts are best suited for each one of us – we are all different and so we have different gifts – Paul says,
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:11-16)
If we were all pastors and now I’m talking about the ones that stand in front of the congregation like I do – then there would be no need for me. If we were all gifted to teach – then no one would want to be taught – if we were all evangelist, we might be able to get new people into the church, but there would be no one here to teach or disciple new people. We are all given different gifts – some are given the gift of music – I have been given the gift of enjoying music – not so much with the singing or playing it like my sons have been.
Using the idea of the body – if we were all ears and no mouths – we could hear everything, but would not be able to talk – or if we were all mouths, but no ears – we would be able to make noise, but we would not be able to hear. We have to use all of our senses to be complete and the same is true of our spiritual gifts – we must use all of them in order to be the best that we can be for God.
These gifts are to be exercised in love under the administration of the Lord of the church, not through human volition. Our gifts must never be used for the will of man, or for our own gratification, or to make us look good. Our gifts are to be exercised under the administration of the Lord of the Church and who is that? Its Jesus or His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit. Our gifts are to be used under the administration of the Holy Spirit. If someone has the gift of teaching and instead of asking the Holy Spirit to lead in that teaching – to bring things to mind that the students need to hear – we start doing our own thing – teaching our own agenda – then we have gone against the Holy Spirits administration. Did you notice what else it said? These gifts are to be exercised in love!!
Everything we do should be done in love. Think about Jesus. Everything He did was out of love – If we have the gift of leading, we must do it out of love and not by being bossy or if we have the gift of money – I feel that some are given the gift to make money and they use it for God’s Kingdom – but if we are given the gift of making money – we don’t flaunt it to those we come in contact with.
We must always seek the Holy Spirit’s will in the using of our gifts – not mankind. Peter says,
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:8-11)
The thing that we must keep in mind in regards to our gifts is that they must be used to serve the church and each other, not ourselves. How valuable are the gifts of the Spirit? Well, according to article 15: The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the church and not by the ecstasy (delight or happiness) produced in the ones receiving them. You may think you have a gift because it makes you happy, but you need to test it to see if its useful to t he church. You may think you are the best singer in the world – your singing makes you so happy – but – you might need to test it by seeing if it is useful in the church. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sing – but maybe you shouldn’t sing in the choir or sing a special – how useful in the church, is the gift that the Holy Spirit has given you?