08 October 2009

Varieties of gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NRSV)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

When we think deeply about the differences between people, we see that there truly are "varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit." Unfortunately, it can be hard to create the time and the space to think in these deep ways. All too often, it is in the midst of the busy-ness of our lives that we encounter someone who is unlike us in some way and we react with a lack of charity and patience. In Corinthians, Paul recognizes the diversity of the members of the church in Corinth, and is striving to help the people there to recognize that difference can make the whole body stronger, and that these differences can be Spirit-filled.

When we turn to God, and when we reflect deeply upon the ways that the Spirit has given us each gifts, we find that it is really ok, and also quite wonderful that we don't need to be all things to all people. We don't each need to have all the gifts under the sun, but we do need to be open enough and respectful enough of one another to recognize the gifts that they have, and the gift that they are.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

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