The spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians can be classified into three categories very well. Doing this brings out one thing very clearly: God intends to communicate his grace in many ways.
In the last two decades the occupational area of media and communication has grown rapidly. If high school graduates are asked about their career plans they often answer: “Something in the area of media.” As humans we just love to communicate – regardless of how it is done. We cannot live without communication. I am convinced that God equipped us with the desire and the ability for communication. I conceive the spiritual gifts to be a kind of means for communicating the grace of God.
Considering the list of the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 we can classify them into three categories to get a better overview:
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Discerning of spirits
- Gifts of healings
- Working of miracles
- Speaking in tongues
The revelation-gifts bring to light what is hidden. They give insight into special thoughts and intentions of God. The power-gifts, on the other hand, demonstrate God’s power visibly. They convey God’s grace visually. And finally the speaking-gifts communicate audibly. In all this we see that God uses different means of communication to pass his grace on to the recipients.
As a basic rule I would say that no one can combine all spiritual gifts in him- or herself – even if the Holy Spirit can, of course, activate various gifts simultaneously on certain occasions. The gifts of the spirit work together like the fingers of a hand: Each finger is important and takes on certain roles, but only when they work together the purpose of the hand is fulfilled. When God created man he certainly did not have isolated individuals in mind working detached from each other, but team players – humans who depend on each other and need to supplement each other. Therefore each person who intends to minister in the gifts of the spirit needs considerable modesty and humility. These traits form the optimal basis, since God gives his grace only to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, Matthew 23:12, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
I am fascinated by this enormous variety of the gifts. It correlates with the variety of human beings and their different ways of communicating. In the following articles I want to write in more detail about the individual gifts of the spirit and share some of my practical experiences.