1 Corinthians 12:1-12
1 Now concerning what comes from the Spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you used to be led off to the idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages , to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills. 12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Paul was very passionate about enlightening new Christians to the Holy Spirit’s powerful presence living within each of them. In this passage, he provided them with very specific examples of the ways the Spirit empowers us to serve others and build them up in their faith.
Paul emphasizes how important it is that we be aware of our gifts, because these gifts are given by the Spirit to build others up in their faith. He also emphasizes that the Spirit is the one who fuels our gifts and enables us to serve others by using these gifts.
He stresses that there are different types of gifts, but the Spirit is the giver of them all, and no one gift is more important than another. Each of the gifts listed in verses 8-10 is given to help us serve others and bring them into the Kingdom, and ultimately to glorify God.
Since each of us is equipped with this power to serve others, it’s an integral part of our growth to understand the specific ways the Spirit is equipping us to serve and grow others through our gifts. In seeking after this understanding, I believe we inherently grow deeper in our own faith.
Though God does not hide these gifts from us, I believe He desires us to seek after Him to discover specifically how He chooses to work through us. Jeremiah 29:13-14 tells us that when we seek Him with all of our heart, He promises to be found. When we discover this purpose and empowerment, not only do we experience fulfillment in being utilized by God, but we experience a deepening of our relationship with Him.
Several years ago, a mentor challenged me to ask God to reveal some of the ways in which He chooses to exhibit His power and work through me. I studied the gifts listed in this passage and in others in Scripture (I Peter 4; Romans 12) to understand what Scripture has to say about spiritual gifts.
Over a period of several months, God opened my eyes to see the opportunities He was giving me to invest in others so that their faith might be stronger. I recognized a pattern of similar opportunities that God was putting before me to provide encouragement to the people I was spending time with.
I also noticed that the Spirit would bring relevant scriptures to my mind to provide them with Biblical wisdom that related to their specific situation, and to help them determine the next practical step to take in following after God.
As a result of this exercise in prayer and seeking after God’s purpose and gifting in my life, I’ve learned to better detect the Spirit’s leading. I now recognize one of the ways the Spirit works through me is by allowing me to provide this type of encouragement or exhortation to others. I’ve learned to look for opportunities to build others up in this way, and to detect the Spirit empowering me to do so.
I don’t claim any credit for these gifts, but instead praise God for His willingness to allow me to be part of the work He is simultaneously doing in me and through me. Knowing how the Spirit empowers each of us to serve and build another’s faith brings joy and fulfillment like nothing else.
- Re-read Romans 12:6-8, and read Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4. Write down the gifts listed in each passage. Have you detected the Holy Spirit enabling you to serve in one of these ways?
- Reflect on your commitment to serve others and build them up in their faith. Have you purposed in your heart to be a servant? Ask God to help you make this commitment to serve Him by serving others.
- As you walk through your day, in what ways is God opening opportunities for you to serve someone else or build them up? Ask God to reveal the ways He chooses to manifest His powerful Spirit through you.