“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” I Corinthians 12:7
“If only I could write as well as she does.”
“ Wouldn’t it be great to sing like that?”
“I wish people were drawn to me the way they are to her.”
“I can’t do this as well as she can so I am not going to participate.”
“Why can’t I be…. smarter, more talented, more popular, more gifted…
Have you ever said anything like this to yourself? These are all things I have felt and believed at times. Sometimes I struggle with not wanting to use my gifts because I think they are not as good as what someone else has or because I am coveting the gift someone else has. Thoughts like these bring pain to our hearts. We feel left out. We feel like we are not good enough. We feel like God must like them more than He likes us. We all want to be loved and admired. But the truth is these beliefs go against the whole purpose of spiritual gifts! The whole chapter of I Corinthians 12 has very clear teaching about the role of spiritual gifts in the church. I think I Corinthians 12:7 sums it up well.
To “each” (to every believer, each individual believer) the manifestation (a sign that shows something clearly; a public demonstration of power and purpose. Synonyms: image, incarnation, avatar, embodier..) of the Spirit is given. The gifts are the Holy Spirit showing Himself, He manifests Himself or shows Himself through each believer. It is not about us, it is all about the Holy Spirit revealing Himself. For what purpose? To bring us together, for the good of all and for the glory of God. How can there be pride when it is the Spirit not us being revealed? If we are jealous, we are jealous of the Holy Spirit. To reject any particular gift is to reject Him. It is all Him, every gift is the Holy Spirit revealing Himself, showing Himself and working to bring us together as one.
How often have I hindered the work of the Holy Spirit with jealousy and/or pride? I sometimes look at the gifts of others and I am jealous. I covet what they have. Or the Spirit reveals Himself through me and I get prideful. How foolish since it was never me! It is His work and His gifts given freely not based on merit. Concerning the need to be loved and admired, God wants us to realize that His unconditional love already completes us. We have all we need in Him. And if the body is functioning as God intends then we will be loving each other and taking care of each other’s needs. Verses 25-26 paint a beautiful picture of how He wants us to function. “So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
Father, I am sorry for the times even recently when I let jealousy into my heart over the gifts you have given others. I confess that I too often compare and act as if it is about my abilities. I know it is all a gift from you. Holy Spirit, please cleanse my heart of pride and comparison. Please fill me and show Yourself through me for the glory of God.