A brief Reflection on I Corinthians 12:1-11-Spiritual Gifts

In general, St. Paul is stating that the Corinthians have a full measure of the Spirit's power e.g. Prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, knowledge etc. Yet they also had conflict, immorality, and thoughtless disregard for one another. Throughout this chapter and the next, Paul teaches on the topic of how to discern [perceive, understand or distinguish] God's work in the activation of various gifts and how to value one's brothers and sisters in Christ across that variety. 

Through God's Spirit, God is first of all bearing witness to Jesus as Lord. "No one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says 'Let Jesus be cursed!' and no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3). According to the apostle Paul, one way to know whether a movement is led by the Spirit of God is to listen for its claims about Jesus Christ. The Spirit makes Jesus known to us in the cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31), the supper (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34), and the resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15). By the Spirit, the church testifies that Jesus -- not money, security, self esteem, paranoia, power, or anything else -- is Lord. God’s gifts bear the fruit of The Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)! 

Gifts from God's Spirit proclaim Jesus as Lord. They also serve the common good. Paul's second criterion for discerning the work of the Holy Spirit points to the Spirit's interest in the common life of those it draws together. Just as the Spirit is all about talking up Jesus as Lord, so the Spirit is all about building up the group rather than enriching individuals. Individuals receive gifts from the Spirit, yet each gift is for the body as a whole. This implies that if a gift cannot be shared, and shared for the good of others, it is not from the Spirit. It also implies that any attempt to rank individuals according to their possession of "better" gifts would be at odds with each gift's common purpose for the good of all.  

Posted on June 7, 2014 .