Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 12
An incredible phenomenon occurs every winter in the sky. It isn’t with constellations but with migrating geese.
When geese migrate, they can be seen flying in a V-shaped formation. To us on the ground, it is a thing of beauty. But to the geese, it is essential for survival. Science has recently learned that the flock actually travels up to 71 percent faster and easier by maintaining this pattern.
At certain intervals relative to the strength of the wind, the lead bird who is doing the most work by breaking the force of the wind will drop off and fly at the end of the formation. The flapping wings create an uplift of air, and the effect is greater at the rear of the formation. So the geese take turns uplifting one another. By cooperating and working together, the geese achieve long migrations that otherwise would be exceedingly difficult for even the strongest.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we see Paul’s V-formation for the church. It’s one of the significant chapters of the New Testament for the church, because it is in in this chapter that he teaches us how to fly. This is the chapter on the gifts of the Spirit.
Spiritual gifts are tools to build with, not toys to play with, or weapons to fight with. Paul tells us something we all need to hear—that every believer has a gift: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (verse 7, NLT). They are gifts of the Holy Spirit—not our gifts. He owns them. You might say they are on loan to us.
How do we find what our spiritual gift is?
Practically speaking, here are a few simple questions to ask yourself to begin that journey:
• What do I find joy in doing?
• What do I do that tires me but never burns me out?
• What are some things I do that others are helped by and encouraged with?
After you ask yourself those questions, ask your spiritual leadership what they see as a dominant gift in you.
In the New Testament, we have three gifts chapters— Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. God’s purposes are designed around these gifts.
The job of every believer is to identify and employ their gift for a specific reason. As 1 Peter 4:10 tells us, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT). It seems that every time the Bible reminds us that we are all gifted by God, it reminds us why! “Use them to well to serve one another,” Peter says. And Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, “so we can help each other.”
When we identify our gift, we have just found our place in the geese flight plan. We are part of the V to move the church forward. And we all must do our part.
Why does part of my body fall asleep? Because I sit on my foot and then it falls asleep. If it is doing what it’s supposed to do, then it isn’t sleeping. When a church is asleep, it is because people are not doing what they are supposed to do with the gifts they have been given. In order to be effective, we must know where we belong in the body and then participate.
Let me say one important thing about understanding gifts. To pursue gifts without the development of character is to sabotage the platform that the gift provides. Gifts can get you a position. Character is what keeps the position.
Don’t separate the gifts of the Spirit from the fruit of the Spirit. We need both gifts and fruit in the church. The gifts provide a power far beyond natural abilities. By the fruit of the Spirit, the life of Christ is manifested. And by the gifts of the Spirit, the ministry of Christ is continued.
Spiritual maturity is not measured by the gift but by the presence of Christlike fruit. The fruit keeps the gift in check. We must be careful not to let the gifts replace the fruit as standards of spirituality. Jesus said you will know Christians by their gifts? No. You will know Christians by their fruit.
I wonder if the Holy Spirit was being strategic to put the greatest fruit of the Spirit—love—(in 1 Corinthians 13) right next to the gifts chapter? I think God was trying to tell us something. We will talk about that tomorrow.
A. T. Pierson, a Bible teacher from an earlier era, said,
Every one has some gift—therefore all should be encouraged. No one has all the gifts—therefore all should be humble. All gifts are for the one body—therefore all should be harmonious. All gifts are from the Lord—therefore all should be contented. All gifts are mutually helpful and needful—therefore all should be studiously faithful. All gifts promote the health and strength of the whole body—therefore none can be safely parted with. All gifts depend on His fulness for power—therefore we should keep in close touch with Him.
We are all part of the church’s V-formation. We need you to use your gift to help others.