1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3, 8 – 11
About Spiritual Gifts.
1. Typically, the topic of “spiritual gifts” is discussed in context to one or two specific gifts. (“tongues” and prophecy)
a. The underlying context of the discussion is “have and have not.” The “haves” are either the “in” group to be respected or they are the ones who are to be feared because of the perception of not being authentic. The “have nots” are either to be looked down upon and criticized or they are the ones considered “safe.”
b. Often the issue of “tongues” has become the acid test. On one side, the extreme has decided that if one does not speak in tongues, the person is not even saved (or filled with the Holy Spirit). On the other side, those that speak in tongues are considered heretics or emotionally unstable.
c. The core philosophy in this debate is “different is better.” The idea is to impose the same experience on everyone... wether is speaking or not speaking.
2. Lets look at the BIBLICAL evidence for the giving and use of the spiritual gifts.
a. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” [1 Corinthians 12:4 – 6]
1.) There are three different concepts mentioned by Paul. (Ways to understand spiritual gifts)
a.) Gifts – (Greek “charisma”) are the spiritual quality or ability.
b.) Services – (Greek “diakonia”) are the applications of those abilities.
c.) Workings – (Greek “energema”) are the effects.
2.) The lesson here is “different is just different” because they are from and for the SAME one. Notice the reference to the Trinity in this verse: Spirit (v 4), Lord [Jesus] (v 5), God [the Father] (v 6).
b. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” [1 Corinthians 12:7]
1.) These “manifestations” are given for the COMMON good not the INDIVIDUAL good.
2.) (Greek “sumphero”) The manifestations are only in the context of the group as a contribution for everyone’s advantage.
c. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” [1 Corinthians 12:11]
1.) The distribution is determined by God NOT our desire.
a.) Observation: everyone had “time, talent, and treasure” and everyone has spiritual “gift, service, and work.”
b.) These gifts, services, and works are SITUATIONAL.
c.) Some gifts are more useful to the group than others: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” [1 Corinthians 14:4]
2.) So why have gift(s) that edify the individual?
a.) The word translated “edify” (“oikodome”) is an architecture word that means “to build up” or “to strengthen.” Some individuals need to be built up and strengthened so they can contribute to the collective growth of the group.
b.) “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort.” [1 Corinthians 14:3]
I.) Expected outcome #1: Strengthen/build.
II.) Expected outcome #2: Encouragement and exhortation (challenged to do something).
III.) Expected outcome #3: Comfort.
3. It is all meaningless without “love.”
a. Impressive manifestations of gifts (tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith), services (giving), workings (martyrdom) are pointless without love. [vv 1 – 3]
b. Gifts, services, and workings are pointless without context and direction: “love.”
*** Jesus’ love demonstrated on the cross for us. Our love for God demonstrated in our repentance and obedience. Jesus’ love and our love for others demonstrated in effective use of these to draw others into right, saving, and serving relationship with God. ***
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” [1 Corinthians 13:8]
a. Gifts, services, and works are “imperfect” and “fail.”
b. There are a variety of words for “fail” in verse 8.
1.) “Love never fails. (“ekpipto”) Means to “drop away” or “become inefficient.”
a.) Image of a flower of leaf coming to the end of its life cycle.
b.) Image of a business idea, way of doing something that fails to make the best use of time and resources.
2.) “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
a.) (“katargeo”) The word used about prophecies and knowledge, means “to be entirely useless” or “abolish.”
b.) (“pauo”) The word use in the context of tongues means, “to stop” (come to an end).
c. How does this work?
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” [1 Corinthians 13:9 – 10]
1.) Situations and needs change with maturity. The word translated “perfection” (teleios) means “to be complete,” “to be mature,” “to fulfill function and purpose.”
2.) In other words, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given because of our imperfections for the purpose of maturing (perfecting) us.
5. The questions for response:
a. What part of the church has God designed for you?
b. Where in the church has God given a gift, service, or work for you?
c. How does this reflect your love of God and for others?