According to St. Paul
“…there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…and the same Lord….But to each one is is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” — I Cor. 12:4 ff. (NASB)
Paul goes on to strongly say that different folks (believers) have different special gifts, metaphorically comparing them to body parts: “feet”…”hand”…”ear”…”eye”…etc.
What is today’s Christian to make of this?
For more use the DOOR.
First, let me say–since sometimes I aim in shadowy directions–Paul omits certain body parts. there are no “rear ends” mentioned, as useful as they sometimes are.
Metaphors have limits and they can be pushed too far.
Below are some general observations about special gifts, and gifting, that sometimes are overlooked. To better understand what I say or suggest, you need to (as we often suggest) look at the whole context here as well as other related passages–and translations.
My early morning–unvarnished–observations:
(1) There’s some kind of special Holy Spirit giving of gifts to Christian believers.
(2) Different Christians have different special gifts. Therefore we should have differing expectations of what fellow believers are capable of.
(3) Not having a certain special gift doesn’t mean one is exempt from ever practicing what the gift “delivers,” especially if other passages encourage such general behavior, for example, healing, helping, discriminating, giving, providing hospitality¹, etc.
(4) “Possession” of special gifts should be sought, identified, and claimed².
(5) Possessing and practicing a special gift is almost always for the purpose of serving others³.
(6) Practicing a special gift has no guarantee that you’ll always be right in using it. Sometimes you may be wrong. (You’re not infallible.)
(7) Possessing a special gift does not require your “announcing” or “broadcasting” your possession of it to others.
¹ You certainly expected some kind of note, so here goes: Much can be said about what the gifts are and how they should be practiced. Varying lists appear and are useful to seek out and ponder. Gifting encourages special, or extra, action from some believers, but it’s not a carte blanche excuse from ignoring “regular” useful serving and obedience to God’s commands.
² Why? If special gifts have been “offered,” they should be “claimed.” Others, sometimes in small groups, can help–you and them–discover what their special gifts are so they can be accepted and practiced.
³ The controversial gift of “tongues” may be an exception to this.