Spend any amount of time in church, and you will most likely be told that God has ordained a specific mission for your life so that you might bring praise to His kingdom. In addition, your pastor might touch on God’s decision to equip us with spiritual gifts, which are God’s supernatural equipment for us to reach the lost for Christ.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. – 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
The Bible instructs us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1), and judging by the forests of Christian literature on the subject, I think the church is eager to rediscover communion with the Holy Spirit and the operation of spiritual gifts that comes with such an intimacy. Among many others, I desperately want to be a witness to spiritual deliverances, physical miracles, and an overload of the Holy Spirit’s working.
There’s a tightrope to eagerly desiring the spiritual gifts. Walk through a Family Christian Bookstore or any place that has a section dedicated to Christian life, and you’ll see what I mean. There are dozens of books with moving titles that promise a guidebook to “unlocking your destiny” or “entering into a new level of favor.” Just glance at your Facebook feed, and you’ll find your church-mates pounding out long posts about their newfound expertise in unlocking their role in the kingdom. After 200 odd pages or so, the same guy or girl you know from church or Bible study has it all figured out, and they are ready to assume their rightful place as church wiseman or wise woman.
Now, a lot of people would blame the books that these people are reading, saying something like, “These types of books of nothing more than a ploy to rake in the cash; it’s prosperity gospel theology.” I disagree. For the most part, these types of books are rooted in Scripture and evidenced through firsthand testimony. Of course there are exceptions, but we overestimate their impact. God wants all of us to unlock our destinies and increase in favor with Him and man.
The problem is with us. We start out desiring to discover our spiritual destiny in order to further the kingdom, but after reading a dozen books on the subject, we lose vision of the Great Commission. Why? We allow the newfound knowledge to puff us up. All of sudden, the pursuit is about our personal reputation, our own exultation, and our own demonstration of power. Simply put, we want to be more important than we actually are, and as a consequence, we’ll gladly take God’s gifts but ignore the wise whispers of His Spirit.
And so, this is the blueprint of how the spiritual gifts get abused: Christians want God’s favor and power, but want nothing to do with Him. How can we avoid this, then? If you want clarity about unlocking God’s plans for your life, character matters.
Those who operate consistently and powerfully through the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit will also operate with integrity. The humble man is one who will display spiritual fruit and won’t be swooned by acclaim or an inflated sense of importance.
We get in God’s way all the time because we take ourselves too seriously and conduct ourselves in a thick cloak of pride. I do it more often than I’d like to admit, and it never ends up well. Our culture maintains that the humble get lost in the shuffle, but God will pull you to the front without your own assistance.
Are we willing to take a hit for the kingdom? We all have attachments to things or interests that we may need to move beyond in order to get where we need to be in terms of intimacy with God. It could be time, finances, or pride. Whatever it is, there is something that God asks each of us to sacrifice, yet we waver. Sacrifice comes at a cost, and too many of us, including me, want to ride for free.
Stir Up Boldness
A lot of Christians already operate in the gifts of the Spirit, but they tuck it away for the most part. The reasons vary. It could be that their church or theology quenches the manifestations of the spirit. It could be due to shyness or insecurity. It could be due to intimidation at the expertise of others around them who operate in the gifts of the Spirit.
A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. -Proverbs 18:16
Whatever the reasons, they are a hindrance. God wants us all to contribute. You may feel embarrassed and clumsy when stepping out, but it’s necessary. Being bold doesn’t necessarily mean becoming loud, but rather, being there and willing when God moves you to operate.
I’m not an expert in any of these three areas, but I have been convicted. We’re in an age when retreating from the spiritual gifts is not an option, and when revival comes, I don’t want to be solely an observer.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. For updates on his latest blog posts here at restandrefuge.wordpress.com, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find me on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email. Want to read more? Check him out at themajestysmen.com/author/kevincochrane, a friendship and mentoring community for Christian males (views on my blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com are my own and do not necessarily represent those of The Majesty’s Men). To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.