Often when we think of spiritual gifts, our minds go immediately to the passage in 1 Corinthians 12-14, which talk about gifts (responsibilities) that God gives to the people in His church (both local and total) for the edification of the church (both local and total) and the glory of His name. However, I would venture to speculate that while we run to this passage in 1 Corinthians when we think about Spiritual gifts, we do not run to the correct understanding of spiritual gifts. We view these gifts in ways they were not meant to be seen – namely, that these gifts are meant for personalized performances. We introspectively postulate, “I wonder what gift I have.” We take tests – something along the lines of a Myers-Briggs – in order to take a stab at unfolding the mystery of our gifts. It’s as if when God gives us gifts, He wraps it up tight with a bunch of packing tape and expects us to take off the wrapping paper before we get to see what it is and use it for His Church and His glory.
I would suggest that this view doesn’t come from how Scripture paints God – that He is a loving Father who cherishes His children as His treasure (Eph. 1:11, 18). Instead this paints Spiritual gifts in the light of American Individualism – “how can I unravel the mysteries of God?” (which assumes that you can). But heading this direction makes what should be a spiritual gift (a gift of the Spirit – aka, not of humanity) – a spiritual Christianity for that matter, into a purely human gift and rational Christianity – devoid of our complete dependence upon the Spirit.
As Paul begins his letter to preoccupied Ephesian Christians, living in a culture of affluence, big business, and various religious beliefs, he calls them to center their minds on praising God for the Spiritual gifts they have received – not on praising themselves. In verse three, he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” In this verse, “bless” takes on three different meanings, which renders the sentence to read like this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has shown us His favor in Christ with every gift of the Spirit that comes down out of God’s divine presence (aka, not natural to the human race).”
The question arises, “What, then are these spiritual gifts?” This is where the rest of the passage comes into play. Verses 4-14 talk about four major spiritual gifts that we all so often overlook. Why? I suppose it is because these gifts call all our attention off ourselves and onto God. Whereas the Spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 could be misconstrued to place attention on ourselves, these gifts here cannot. These gifts are: Predestination (vv. 4-6; 11-12), Redemption (vv. 7-8), Revelation (vv. 9-10), and Identification (vv. 13-14). All of these gifts are meant to cause the preoccupied Ephesian Christian to turn the focus from himself onto His Creator, Savior, and Sealer.
As a slice of God’s church, living in the American suburbs, preoccupied with self-advancement – much like the Ephesians – what is our focus when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit? Are we more prone to think about how these gifts elevate us? Or are we more concerned with how these gifts should cause us to elevate God and His work in us?
Perhaps it would be good to take the time, read over this passage, and pray that God would move His Spirit through you to praise Him for His work in you, that you most certainly do not deserve. As beneficiaries of God’s great blessings, let us ever strive to give him all praise and glory for how he has lavished on us His abundant and marvelous gifts through the great cost of His Son.