I Corinthians 12:7-11
by Lois E. Gibson
Verse seven comes after we are shown that there are different gifts, ministries, and workings, but they are of the same Spirit, Lord and God.
The passage we are looking into now reinforces the fact that the Source of these things is the one Spirit. They are not derived from something the believer has on their own. Because of this, no one should boast in regard to how they are used by God. No one should get a big head and no one should feel superior, or inferior, due to the manner in which God sees fit to use him or her. (We'll be getting into this more later.)
One cannot come away from reading this passage and feel that any giftings originate within themselves. They are gifts from God, just as the Holy Spirit itself is a gift to us. We do not earn or merit any of these gifts and we cannot force God's hand in giving us a particular gift. It is entirely as God wills.
So, to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The exhibition or expression (making visible or known) of the Spirit is given for the common good. The KJV lists this as "to profit withal". This is something we need to understand and will be further elaborated on in chapter 14 by Paul.
The giftings of the Spirit are for the common good. They are nothing that should be paraded around for money or for fame. (Yes, giftings can be misused.) They are not for us alone. Rather, they are for the good of all God's people, something that will profit the body of believers.
They are not for harm or tearing down. We see Paul shows this truth in Romans 1:11-12 (NIV): "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
Note that we see the phrases 'to one is given' and 'to another'. We touched on the fact that not all receive the same gifts. This thought is again brought out in this portion of Scripture and will be further seen in our next studies. Paul is trying to be as clear as possible. All gifts come from that one Spirit. That Spirit gives to believers as He desires. All receive a gift(s), but not all will receive the same gifts. One gift is not given to each and every believer.
The gifts cannot be likened to the fruit of the Spirit because the fruit is a package deal. If you have God's Spirit in you, you have the fruit (note it doesn't say fruits, but fruit). How much fruit you bring forth is up to you. Yet with the gifts, they are individually given as God sees fit. One doesn't receive all the gifts when God's Spirit comes to dwell in them.
We are then given a list of nine gifts: word (message in the NIV) of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, various kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues. It is not my desire at this time to get into a discussion of these gifts, as I don't want us to be sidetracked and lose some important truths found here.
However, I want to share some thoughts. Paul never says that this is a complete list of gifts. I do not believe these nine gifts were ever meant to be a "that's it" list. Why? If we briefly jump ahead to verse 27, we will see where Paul lists apostles, prophets, teachers, those able to help others, and those with gifts of administration along with his mention of some of these nine gifts.
We can see other gifts mentioned in Romans 12: serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, and showing mercy. In Ephesians 4 it also mentions apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (All are NIV wording here.)
Those who come from Pentecostal churches often tend to view 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 as "the" list, meaning there are simply nine gifts. This is far from the truth. These are just nine possible gifts one may or may not receive from the Spirit. Don't ever think God has not gifted you because you do not manifest one of these nine! Paul did not limit God to nine gifts.
Let's jump over to I Peter 4:10-11 (NIV): "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 forever and ever. Amen."
Do you see what Peter is saying? He shows that there are gifts we receive (shows they were not of us or we wouldn't 'receive' them) from God and we are admonished to use these gifts to do what? Serve others. (Remember: But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.) God also enables us to use these gifts. And who is to receive praise and glory for these things? Me, me, me? Not us! God alone is due all the praise and glory. He is the Source. Never forget this.
Even when Paul speaks about marriage and being single, he brings out the thought about gifts. I Corinthians 7:7 (NIV) says, "I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that." So even our place as being married or single is considered a gift from God.
Verse 11 sums it up once again: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
Always remember the Source from which you have received your gifting(s). As a body of believers, our gifts do not come from various sources. They do not originate in and of ourselves or we'd have room to boast. God's Spirit gives each individual believer what He desires.
In the next lessons, we'll be getting into some very important truths concerning the body of Christ and giftings. A believer must see and grasp what Paul is sharing. If they do, they will not think more or less of themselves than they ought. They will learn and appreciate their place in the body of Christ. It will do away with feeling you are not important or needed. And it will end once and for all the notion of anyone being more important than another.
Posted November 4, 2004
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