More Spiritual than God Part Two: Too Spiritual for the Gifts

Believers come up with several very spiritual sounding reasons for not caring about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the most spiritual sounding is “I am seeking the Giver, not the gifts.” It wrongly suggests that we can do one without doing the other. Both the salvation and the Holy Spirit are called gifts. Imagine refusing these gifts because you cared more about the giver! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the result of the indwelling presence of God himself through the Spirit. To restrict the presence of the Holy Spirit with an apathetic approach to His gifts is an insult to both the gifts and the giver.

Some declare that they care more about fruit of the Spirit than the gifts of the Spirit. This certainly sounds humble and noble, but is misunderstanding (often willfully) a multiple-choice question. The real answer is all-of-the-above. The Holy Spirit can give us the mind of Christ through wisdom, the character of Christ through the fruit of the Spirit, and the ministry of Christ through the gifts. It is both/and—not either/or. God’s people are meant to walk in both the power and purity of the Holy Spirit. If the enemy can’t get us to reject, the Holy Spirit completely, he will make us think we must choose between all the Spirit offers.

Another very spiritual objection to the gifts of the Spirit is that we do not need the supernatural, signs and wonders to support our faith. “Thank God,” some say, “that my faith is strong enough to survive without seeing God heal people or do the miraculous.” I actually heard a fellow professor at a Christian college give this as the reason she didn’t want to have the gift of healing. She completely missed Paul’s point about all the gifts being for the edification of others. The gift of healing is for those who need to be healed—not to build the faith of the gifted. Ultimately, apathy about the gifts is a failure to love those who could be encouraged, healed, or guided by those exercising the gifts in love.

The last spiritual reason for ignoring the gifts of the Holy Spirit is a passive surrender to the sovereignty of God. It is expressed this way: “I am open to God giving me the gifts of the Spirit anytime He sovereignly decides to impart them to me.” We would not, however, accept this logic when applied to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Instead we would exhort believers to grow in holiness by nourishing the presence of the Holy Spirit with all the help of the spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting, Scripture, fellowship and radical obedience. Paul’s own transition from chapter thirteen to chapter fourteen of I Corinthians shows we need not choose between love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit: “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Love should nourish our desire for the gifts.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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