May 28, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”—1 Corinthians 12:1–6 (NIV)
I bake French macarons—the little sandwich cookies, not the coconut ones. I’m in some groups and follow people on social media who debate the best kind of meringue to use, the temperature to set your oven to, and even the type of tray to bake on. When I was first learning how to bake them, it was confusing and overwhelming. I imagine that’s kind of how the Corinthian Church was when trying to understand the gifts of the Spirit. Like Paul to the Corinthians in these verses, I had a baker friend who silenced all the other voices, sent me a tried-and-true recipe, and coached me along the way.
Paul starts the twelfth chapter by setting the record straight. It feels almost like a public service announcement. He doesn’t want the Corinthian believers to be ignorant about spiritual gifts, which means they must be important, but not fully understood by this early church. He goes on to contrast what was their confusion as pagans with what is clarity through the Holy Spirit. He gives them a barometer: If anyone is cursing Jesus, they cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit, and if anyone is praising Jesus, they can only do so by the power of the Spirit of God.
So right away, we see the Holy Spirit plays an important role here. Without Him, the gifts would quite literally not be gifts of the Spirit. What’s so amazing is the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus before He died, rose again, and ascended back to heaven! Jesus told His disciples it was better for Him to leave because the Spirit would come (John 16:7). The Spirit of truth would be their (our) advocate, comforter, and guide (John 16:13). The disciples would have power when the Holy Spirit comes (Acts 1:8)—and here, we see this coming to fruition. Paul continues the narrative about the power and work of the Holy Spirit as demonstrated in gifts given to us as believers in the church.
In verses four through six, Paul’s public service announcement continues. It could be assumed that different outcomes mean there are different sources. It could point to division. But Paul counters that logic, explaining that despite the differences in gifts, service, and activity within believers, it’s the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God who is working in all. I don’t want you to miss the obvious trinitarian language here. One God, existing in three persons as the Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and God the Father, and operating in all of us. This is the trinity! They’re the same, but different.
This model combination of unity and diversity is imprinted everywhere. While it’s a somewhat silly analogy, what I love about macarons is that they are all the same, but different. It’s the same process to make them, and each cookie is the same size, with the same ruffles, and the same texture, but the differences come in color, flavor, and decoration.
Just like a package of assorted French macarons, we as believers are beautiful together. We exist in unity and diversity. We’re the same but different. We’re individually gifted, but together we form something even better—the big, blended, international family of God.
Pause: We can’t operate without the filling of the Holy Spirit, under the Lordship of Jesus, ordained by God the Father. Take a moment to consider the unity and diversity of each person of the trinity.
Practice: How can you celebrate someone’s uniqueness today? How can you celebrate that same person’s similarities to you?
Pray: Thank You Father for sending us Your Son and the Holy Spirit to be our helper, our guide, and our advocate. Thank You for the gifts that You have given us. Help us to celebrate the differences we see in other believers and also rejoice in the similarities we have with You as our Lord. As I use my gifts, help those who don’t yet know You see a glimpse of Your character and nature. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.