“Covet earnestly the best gifts.” – 1 Corinthians 12:31 (KJV)
It’s amazing to see how the light dawns among students, pastors, and believers as we study the distinction between the gifts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Learning to distinguish the source and purpose of the different gifts of the Godhead truly opens up “the eyes of our understanding.”
All of us who know the Lord are all filled with a stirring inside that draws us to find our place as a ministering member of the Body of Christ. Some are called to vocational ministry but for all believers, there are gifts to be recognized, cultivated and then distributed to others. We are learning how to be His hands extended.
Gaining a clear understanding of what the Word of God says about the gifts of the Godhead will help to form in you a basis for the operation of those gifts—not only in yourself, but also as ministry tools for cultivation of His Kingdom.
The Word of God tells us to “covet earnestly the best gifts,” but that isn’t to collect them as you would fine pieces of art. We are to function as a channel through which the gifts happen, to covet the gift that is most appropriately distributed through you for ministering to any situation, trial or need. The gifts “profit” the Body of Christ by bringing recognition of our mutual dependency on the grace of God happening through one another.
The distinctive gifts given by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit truly represent the Trinity at work in creation and redemption. It’s important to understand their difference.
The Trinity in action
The Father who energizes. Father God places multiple possibilities of seven basic traits or inclinations within us that are fundamental to who we were created to be. They are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and showing mercy (Romans 12:6-8). The gift of the Father is the gift which stirs you and to which you inherently respond. Finding you have a proficiency in it should never become a source of pride; you were simply created that way.
The Lord Jesus who administrates. The Redeemer, the Lord Jesus, has given to the Church ministries to help people redemptively be recovered from hindrances to living fully in what the Father created them to be. The Father says who you are, and Jesus gives ministry gifts to help you understand what you can become. These broad categories with multiple expressions are apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers (Ephesians 4:11).
The Holy Spirit who enables. The Holy Spirit then gives us the power and gifts to enhance, expand and enlarge what we were made to be: Gifts of insight-knowledge are wisdom and discernment. Gifts of power-faith are miracles and healing. Gifts of prophecy are tongues and interpretation (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit require verbal expression, a release in our understanding, and our ability to know how to operate in them.
Father God tells you what He created you to be. Jesus places in His Church people to help you become a ministering person in that context, and the Holy Spirit brings the gracious enhancement of that gift to enlarge your ministry potential.
There are infinite varieties of expressions of all the gifts the Lord releases in us, and none should limit us. The Lord is continually transforming us by His Spirit. Our identity is never to become wrapped up in a gift, but in The Giver—Jesus Christ—and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The spirit of the gifts is love
The operation of all these gifts is qualified by discerning the spirit of the gifts, which is love—the love of God manifesting in the life of the Church (1 Corinthians 13). Love means that this gift is not for me; it’s for me to deliver to someone else. Love is the fundamental manifestation of the Holy Spirit, apparent in both the person ministering the gift and in the one receiving it. When a gift is delivered or ministered in the spirit of love, it is made understandable and receivable to people. Jesus presents a good example of how the gifts function in a person’s life: He did what the Father wanted Him to by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
The spirit of love desires to present the gift in the most appropriate and gracious manner. For the person receiving the gift, the spirit of love is an openness to hear what the Lord is saying and to overlook the imperfection of the person delivering it.
God has a distinct place and purpose in His Kingdom for every person. The Bible says that He has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (1 Corinthians 12:18). Our challenge and joy is to grow into the recognition of what He’s made us to be, and then to experience its release in Jesus, enabled by the Holy Spirit.