Understand the PURPOSE of GIFTS & MINISTRIES within the CHURCH: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. For in fact the body is not one member but many. But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” (1 Cor. 12:4-7, 14, 18)
It was on the day of Pentecost that God gifted the Holy Spirit to the church (Acts 2:1-4). Unlike the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was now here to stay and empower every believer to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus had entrusted the church (Matt. 28:19-20). God’s plan is to fulfill His missional mandate through the church (Acts 1:8). For this reason, God also awarded various gifts and ministries to be used for the common good of both believers and unbelievers.
In the above passage, Apostle Paul explains that while there are a variety of gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church, there is a basic, threefold unity, involving the three Persons of the Godhead. The Corinthians were acting as if there was only one gift—tongues. However, there are diversities of gifts, but the same Holy Spirit. What Paul was trying to clarify was that their unity was through the possession of the Holy Spirit who is the Source of all the gifts. Even though there were diversities of gifts and differences of ministries the Holy Spirit was in control. Though believers are gifted differently by God, His work is unified within diversity!
Let us understand that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal power, and His gifts do not spring from a human source; it is the work of God. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability bestowed on an individual by the Holy Spirit, and is given by the Spirit of God for the accomplishment of God’s purpose in the world and for the edification of the church. Each gift is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and a visible evidence of His activity. Gifts are manifestations of God’s grace that enable a person to serve and glorify Him (vv. 1–10, 28–31; Rom. 12:3–8; Eph. 4:11, 12; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11). Two things should be noted regarding spiritual gifts: (1) every believer has been given spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:5, 6; 1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10); and (2) the gifts belong to God and are given for the believer only to use for His glory (1 Pet. 4:11).
Spiritual gifts come from the great gift - the blessed Holy Spirit; ministries are modeled by Christ (the Lord); and the works of the Spirit come from God the Father. Spiritual gifts and ministries are given by the Spirit, used in ministry by the Son, and energized by the Father. The Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14), not Himself. The Spirit gives us gifts so that we can serve Christ and His church “for the profit of all” (v. 7).
Let us understand the purpose of gifts and ministries within the church today. Since there are different needs in the Christian community, different gifts and ministries are required. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself in the life of each believer by imparting some gift. The gifts are given for the profit of the entire body and in order to help others. Thus, regardless of his gifts, ministries, and the manner and extent of God’s blessing, each believer should demonstrate the Holy Spirit through his/her life; and through his/her gifts and ministries each believer makes a unique contribution to the common good (12:12–21; 3:4–10).
Together Christians make up the body of Christ, and each of us is an individual member in it. We should understand that God works through spiritual gifts and ministries to reproduce the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church. Below are four important points to consider in this regard:
- God has set us in the church with different gifts and ministries to work like a team (v. 18). We are essential parts of a whole. When we use our skills and abilities faithfully, God’s purposes are accomplished and He gets the glory.
- God has created us to be dependent on Him and on one another (v. 14). We may come from different cultural backgrounds and have different personalities, but we are filled by the same Holy Spirit and belong to the same body of Christ. So, we should look out for others, and use our gifting to benefit others.
- God deems every person as important in the church, the body of Christ (v. 20). Every person is unique, has value, and contributes to the success of everyone else. We should use our gifts to build others up, serve others, and thus carry out God’s purposes. We need one another in order to be what God wants us to be.
- Finally, we can accomplish more together than when we are acting alone (v. 14). Just like individual snowflakes are fragile but en masse create a formidable force, we can accomplish great things when we unite together. We can make a definite difference in our world when we work together.