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The Spiritual Gift of Blah, Blah, Blah

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

If I speak in the tonguesof men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

You really cannot have a complete discussion about unity in the church without talking about Spiritual gifts.  They are, after all, an essential piece to the puzzle.  The Spirit of God Himself, manifesting Himself through the believer, is a huge promise from Him…a promise upon which unity rests.  Without the Spirit of God working in and through us, there would be no hope for unity because there is no other provision for unity other than the Spirit.  How He chooses to manifest Himself, then, through believers (i.e., what we call Spiritual gifts) is a critical cog in the machinery of the church.

Paul begins his discussion of Spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12 with these words: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” He then teaches the concept of Spiritual gifts wonderfully, including the whole metaphor of the church as a body.  But then at the end of that chapter, he segues from that discussion with these words: “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” In other words, now he is going to paint a picture of how it all looks in a very practical, understandable way.  And with that introduction, he teaches us the most important lesson there is about Spiritual gifts: that they can be amazingly helpful or utterly useless.  It is up to us.

Your Spiritual gifts, it seems, are always going to be perceived by the church through the lens of interpersonal relationships.  Where relationships are good (i.e., where love abounds) the gifts are helpful and fulfill their intended purpose.  But where relationships are bad (i.e., where there is no love), even something as powerful as the Spirit of God Himself will not be received when He manifests Himself through a believer.  That activity (gifts without love) is described as just a bunch of noise: a “resounding gong” or a “clanging cymbal”. Kids today would describe it this way: blah, blah, blah. Meaningless.  Worthless.  Under those circumstances, your Spiritual gift of teaching becomes the spiritual gift of blah, blah, blah.

Can you imagine such a plan on God’s part?  I’m going to do my work in the church through the people of the church.  If their relationships with one another are not right, then they will not benefit from my work.  It will all be dependent upon their love for each other.  No love, no power. I don’t know about you, but I probably would not have planned it that way.  That is an absolutely astounding move on God’s part.

So here is the question it begs: how is the “lens” between you and the others in your church?  Is it such that the church is able to receive God’s “gift” through you?  Have you maintained such loving relationships with your church that your Spiritual gift actually has meaning in their lives?  Or is time to pull out the glass cleaner and get to work on that lens…

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