Recently, I blogged about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is to unite believers–Jew and Gentile–into the body of the Messiah and to empower believers to demonstrate the gospel (through boldness, signs and wonders, etc.)
I Corinthians 12: 8-10 lists nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues (NASB).
Paul mentions additional gifts in Romans 12: 6-8. And having different gifts according to the grace given to us, whether prophecy according to the proportion of his faith, or ministry in his service, or the one who teaches in the teaching, or the one who encourages in encouragement: the one who shares, in sincerity without grudging, the protector or guardian giving aid in diligent eagerness, the one who is merciful in cheerfulness. (The One New Man Bible).
The gifts of the Holy Spirit go hand in hand with the fruit of the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5: 22, NIV).
A believer that exercises the gifts of the spirit without the fruit of the spirit is guilty of pride–a sense of one-upmanship. It is no coincidence that the Apostle Paul sandwiches I Corinthians 13 (the “love chapter”) between I Corinthians 12 and 14. In Chapter 12, Paul names the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter 14, he examines the gifts of the Spirit in greater depth and explains how the gifts should operate within cooperate worship. In Chapter 13, he emphasizes that the gifts of the Spirit will not have the desired effect of unifying believers unless the gifts are exercised in love.
Paul defines love as “patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail” (I Corinthians 13: 4-7, GNT).
Chapter 13 is often read at weddings–and appropriately so. But it is important to remember that when put into context, Chapter 13 refers to exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit in love. Otherwise, the gifts of the Spirit are ineffective as Paul explains in I Corinthians 13: 1-3. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (KJV).
The gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit are just as important today as they were two thousand years ago. Every believer baptized in the Holy Spirit has at least one spiritual gift. Sadly, so much controversy has surrounded the gifts of the Spirit (especially tongues) that many are hesitant to explore–much less exercise–their gifts.
Paul directs the Corinthians (and all believers) to “pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (I Corinthians 14: 1, NASB). In that one sentence, all three phrases stand out. “Pursue love.” That’s something we often neglect as believers. “Desire earnestly spiritual gifts.” Maybe you’re waiting for God to “zap” you with a gift that’s out of your comfort zone, but he urges us to desire the gifts. The last phrase is a jaw-dropper. “That you may prophesy.” What? We all can prophesy? (I Corinthians 14: 1-5.) That’s a discussion for another day.