1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that 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.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 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. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Reflection Just a few paragraphs after the text from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we discover even more gifts; “And God has apostles, prophets, teachers; deeds of power, gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. (1 cor 12.28) And if you have not yet seen your gift mentioned, not to worry. Paul has several more lists. In his letter to the Romans we find gifts of ministering, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leading, compassion and cheerfulness. (12.6-8) to which he adds in his letter to the Ephesians, apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors. (Eph 4.11-12)
Turns out just about anything that anyone does for the good of others ranks among the gifts given to humanity. And here is the thing, rather than being grateful recipients of these unearned gifts and generously dispersing them for the good of others, too often we identify with our gifts, presume to be the source of the gifts and exploit them to enhance our personal power, privilege or pleasure. Or we fall into a different trap, denying our gifts, hiding them under the proverbial basket, allowing them to dissipate and disappear.
Translated from the Greek charisma, gifts are favors received without earning them, without merit. Charisma is also translated as grace which refers to God’s impelling goodness in relationship with humankind. Therefore we can think about our gifts as the outward and visible expression of God’s inward activation grace.
Think of it this way. God’s grace is like a seed planted at the center of our hearts. When we bring our heads into our hearts the river of consciousness opens the way for the seed of grace to flow, scratching the surface of our awareness. When grace rises to conscious awareness we are illumined. With our minds are illumined by grace we are ignited, on fire, compelled to allow that grace to flow through us in the form of our gifts.
This is what Paul means when he writes, “Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit… the same God activates all of the gifts in everyone.”
God activates the gifts that are already in us. All that is required is that we turn our attention around, bring our heads into our hearts, and open the way for grace to flow, delivering our particular gifts to consciousness and fruition.
So the question is how do we bring our heads into our hearts and open the way for grace to flow through us?
I believe we begin by consciously affirming our desire to be the vessels through which God’s grace flows. Then we turn our attention to our hearts. By directing our attention to the center of our chests, the core of our being, we take the intention of our head and bring it to our heart affirming, “It is my intention to be the vessel through which God’s grace flows.” Bringing our heads into our hearts we align our will in the will of God and when we are at one in the will of God, grace flows like a river to illumine our minds and deliver our gifts for the good of others.
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