I have been discussing spiritual gifts with John Novick.
John's bio: Making music is John's thing. It is his goal to go into evangelism and make that music everywhere. He would love to hear from other Christians. Click here to email John.
Defining gifts has always been confusing to me. There are a few gifts that if someone were to ask me to "pitch in" during a time of need, I could very easily accomplish what was asked of me. But a lot of that would be success from talent or just plain hard work and dedication, or a sincere desire to help. But not necessarily from it actually being a true spiritual gift. So maybe the list I have considered for myself is still too broad.
Maybe a spiritual gift is something that directs you to become focused toward an area, with the Holy Spirit giving you a push in that direction, the confidence to act in that area, and the effectiveness (this word chosen instead of ability) to further God's kingdom.
With a true spiritual gift, it is more than just being able to recognize (and respond to) the specific needs of those you have been chosen to minister to. Your need to minister to them becomes just as strong as their need to be ministered to. A defining moment.
The next two sections are an analogy regarding spiritual gifts: Like A Child then Receiving From The Holy Spirit.
When exploring how people express intimacy, a child is the most basic example of expression, the most open and eager to receive, and usually thought of as the one in most need of comfort due to the vulnerability of a child.
Assume we two men are now in the role of two small children. I think we need some big strong person to wrap his arms around both of us at the same time. We are two little boys running scared. We need somebody all grown up to calm us both down.
Here is the part that really fascinates me. The adult provides an audience for the two children. The two little boys are interacting with each other as well as with the adult.
I know I have feared asking for support because sometimes it would have to be spontaneous. Yikes! What if I started crying at church and someone sat me down in the pew next to him and held me? Everyone would be gawking at an intimate moment.
This is the wondrous part of being two little boys and bringing an adult into the situation. Two sweet, precious little boys would not be self-conscious enough (until they are later so conditioned) to be embarrassed if someone happens to notice what they are doing. So what would it hurt if somebody (the adult) saw this intimate moment?
To me, this is the ultimate form of comfort, to be able to accept it (or give it) any time, any where, under any circumstances without ever worrying if what you are doing is proper, or wrong, or will bring you ridicule. How beautiful to feel the pure innocence of two children responding to healthy, natural support without reservation or fear of criticism.
I cannot stress this enough. When something is really bothering you, comfort must be a spontaneous event. You cannot wait for a private or convenient moment. You cannot plan for it. You have to grab it at the moment you are hurting and someone is kind enough to be available. Yes, you sometimes need to take action to make your needs known and to facilitate a meeting, etc. But controlling an emotion kills it and spontaneity.
In realizing that I cannot be all things for all people, I am beginning to see how spiritual gifts are also narrowed down to ministering within certain areas of the body of Christ. Different people may actually even use the same gift differently than someone else does. It is very difficult (and dangerous) to create guidelines that are flexible enough to respond to each person's individualities yet rigid enough to match a definition we may interpret (or predict) will conform to God's Word.
I truly believe that the Holy Spirit gives each person customized insight in terms of how he is to minister to others using his spiritual gift(s). (1 Corinthians 12:11-18.) This customization affirms my preoccupation with spontaneity in intimacy as seen through the eyes of a child. A child does not question love. He just accepts it. In much the same way, we should not question a spiritual gift, we should just accept it. A child's freedom to be expressive in intimacy with others also parallels an adult's freedom to be expressive through the use of his spiritual gift(s).
Below I show excerpts from my discussion about children (Part A). I compare how children are expressive through intimacy, with how the Holy Spirit expects adults to be expressive through the use of their spiritual gifts.
A child says...
The Holy Spirit says...
"So what would it hurt if somebody (an audience) saw an intimate moment of comfort?"
"Receive, discover, and use the spiritual gift(s) I give you boldly and unashamedly."
"To me, this is the ultimate form of comfort, to be able to accept it (or give it) any time, any where, under any circumstances without ever worrying if what you are doing is proper, or wrong, or will bring you ridicule."
"Accept the preparation I give you as I customize the use of your spiritual gift(s), unique according to the purpose God has called you to fulfill."
"How beautiful to experience the pure innocence of two children responding to healthy, natural support without reservation or fear of criticism."
"This is how the body of Christ is to accept and encourage the use of each member's customized spiritual gift(s)."
"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
As boys grow into men, we are taught that it is not acceptable for us to express ourselves. It is no wonder we flounder when we try to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and we stumble when we try to infuse those revelations into our Christian walk.