Gifts are fun to receive. Whether it’s a birthday gift, Christmas gift, anniversary gift, or just because someone is thinking of you, they bring joy into our life. The greatest gift that ever was given came from God because He loves us.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
This is a very familiar verse, and we may take it for granted, but it reveals such a wonderful blessing and the perfect love of God towards us. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, chose to become a man in order that we can be redeemed from our sin and certain eternal death. This is a gift of love that is unmatched by any other gift that has ever been given. This one gift makes many other gifts available.
Because He chose to enter His creation, it also meant He chose to become our once-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin. He rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven, and faith in Him brings grace and offers gifts.
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men” (Ephesians 4:7-8).
The gifts given by Christ through the Holy Spirit are offered free to all believers but are more valuable than diamonds or gold. When we accept Jesus Christ for our salvation, we’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. That’s like putting a treasure inside a clay pot and securing it so nobody can take it away.
The first mention of the Spirit of God is in the creation account; and throughout the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon people and gave them power and guidance. The Spiritual help could easily be taken away because, at that time, the Holy Spirit wasn’t sealed within a person. When David sinned during the incident with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan brought this transgression to his attention, and David was repentant. He grieved over his sin and went to God and asked forgiveness. He also asked that the Holy Spirit not be taken away from him.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).
David knew that he needed God’s blessing in his life, and without the Holy Spirit he would be empty. How often do we as Christians grieve over our sin and ask for forgiveness? Probably not as often as we should. So often we don’t even care that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and continue to sin with no grief on our part.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
We may not grieve, but the Holy Spirit does. We can’t lose our salvation but we can, like David, lose the joy of our salvation when we ignore and grieve the Spirit within us.
Once we receive God’s gift of salvation, other gifts are waiting for us. There are many and each one is to be desired.
“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12).
Today many Christians deny that these gifts exist and therefore reject the power of the Holy Spirit. These gifts aren’t a fairy godmother type of thing found in fictional fairytales, but a solid gift from God to be used for the edifying of the Body of Christ. The gifts aren’t to be used for your own personal gain, but are to be used to help fellow Christians and glorify God.
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer…As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:7, 10).
We are rapidly nearing the end of all things, and we need to keep our wits about us. Instead of desiring the praise of men, we need to seek the approval of God and do all we can to glorify Him by using the gifts He gives. Stewardship is often associated only with managing money, but it means to manage all things well, especially the grace of God.
God wants us to understand and use the gifts He has available for us. The Apostle Paul had much to say about Spiritual Gifts, and we can learn so much from his letters.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
There are various gifts listed throughout Scripture, and you can’t just go to one verse and understand them. Like everything else in God’s word, it is spread throughout the Old and New Testaments; and it takes study to gain understanding.
Throughout the book of Judges we see the phrase “and the Spirit of the LORD came upon him,” and that’s when the particular judge would accomplish what God had chosen him for. When Samuel anointed David we’re told “…and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward…” (1 Samuel 16:13b).
There are many more Old Testament verses regarding the Spirit coming upon people, but there are also verses where it was taken away. It was taken away from King Saul when he defied God. That’s why it’s such a blessing that the Holy Spirit is sealed within Christians. We can ignore Him, but He will always be sealed within us.
On the Day of Pentecost, the power of the Holy Spirit was strong, and the Apostles spoke in tongues so the strangers in Jerusalem could understand in their own language what was being said.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
There are some who twist this to imply that unless you speak in tongues you aren’t saved. Tongues is just one of the gifts and not necessarily the one the Holy Spirit gives to you.
Some of the gifts may surprise you. One such gift is to be unmarried. Paul wasn’t married and wrote, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7).
If you have this gift, remember that it also includes abstinence. “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2).
When a gift is given, the means to use it is also given; but it’s all important to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Nine gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
The one in this list that surprises me is the gift of faith. This isn’t talking about a saving faith in Christ, but the faith to trust Him in all things. When things go wrong in life, those who have the gift of faith will look to God, knowing that He will provide.
We can find another list of gifts in Paul’s letter to the Romans. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).
All are gifts to be desired, but the Holy Spirit knows the gift or gifts which suit you best.
The gifts are as important today as they ever were. It’s important that you seek your gift and don’t sit around fretting about “what’s my gift” instead of doing things for the glory of God. Start by offering to do something you’re skilled at, such as teaching. If you teach a Sunday school class and the Lord blesses your efforts, then you’ve found one of the gifts He has given you. Try various things to see if God blesses your efforts; you aren’t limited to one gift. Remember, it’s all for His glory and not for your own. Use your gifts to help fellow Christians and to be a witness to the fallen world around.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
It shouldn’t be a burden to use your gifts in service for the One who has given you everything. You may need to sacrifice time spent in your own pleasures in order to serve Him.
The greatest gift of all is our salvation. This gift is available to everybody, but it must be accepted by each person individually. We are all sinners deserving of eternal death.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus Christ gave His life so you can live. You have a choice as to whether to accept this free gift or not. If you haven’t accepted the gift of salvation, then don’t wait another moment. If you’ve never been told that you’re a sinner destined for eternal death in the lake of fire, then you need to talk to a pastor, a Christian friend, or send me an email.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
There’s no other way to live eternally than by accepting the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. He is truly God’s greatest gift to mankind.
God gives gifts unto men but you must accept them. It’s your choice.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.
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