Have you ever tried very hard to avoid talking or writing about a subject because you just know it is guaranteed to “open up a can of worms” and cause arguments and disagreements? I do. I try to avoid confrontation as much as humanly possible. Subjects such as President Obama, gun control, human right issues, free speech, women in church leadership and ANCHOVIES are just some of the HOT BUTTON topics which turn ordinarily rational, sensible, reasonable, loving Christian brothers and sisters into angry and incensed people with tunnel-vision, who are unable to even listen to another point of view (myself included). Sadly, this same irrational and even hostile, “spitting-out-nails” type of behavior is encountered when Christians talk about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The very things that are meant to unite all believers in Jesus Christ into a “well-oiled” functional unit, used by God to save the world from self-imploding on itself by its own selfish sinfulness, are the very things that divide us. Differing views of the Gifts of the Spirit throws a monkey-wrench into Christian family unity and we become an unproductive and dysfunctional family. This should not be how the Christian Church is viewed by outsiders looking in. Instead, Christians are to:
“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace. [There is] one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope [that belongs] to the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:3-4; The Amplified Bible.).
“Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart” (I Peter 1:22; The Amplified Bible).
How can all Christian brothers and sisters live in harmony with one another and use their Spiritual Gifts for the furtherance of God’s kingdom? I believe we can live in HARMONY, as the Family of God, when we use our Gifts of the Spirit in CONCERT with the Fruit of the Spirit:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [selfish] sinful nature…But the Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25-26; N.I.V.).
Some of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are first mentioned by the Apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Romans. These gifts are commonly known as the MOTIVATIONAL GIFTS:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself any more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 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 PROPHESING, let him use it in proportion [agreement] 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 [GIVING], let him give generously; if it is LEADERSHIP, let Him govern diligently; if it is showing MERCY, let him do it cheerfully. LOVE must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, SERVING the Lord. Be JOYFUL in hope, PATIENT in affliction, FAITHFUL in prayer. SHARE with God‘s children who are in need. Practice HOSPITALITY” (Romans 12:3-13; N.I.V.).
Paul encourages the Christian Church in Rome to use their Spiritual Gifts in CONCERT with the Fruit of the Spirit: with JOY, PATIENCE and FAITHFULNESS. Also, sharing and hospitality demonstrate KINDNESS, GOODNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.
We know what the list of words used to name the Spiritual Gifts in Romans 12:3-13 mean in the English language, but what do they mean from a biblical point of view? This will be discussed next time.