In the last two articles I emphasized that the Holy Spirit wants to work in us. He wants to shape and mould our character and intends the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us. But the Holy Spirit also wants to work through us, e.g. by means of the gifts of the Spirit, the charisms. Are we prepared for this?
In the New Testament we repeatedly read about the so called charisms of the Spirit. Summed up it could be said: Charisms are diverse gifts that are given to born again Christians by the Holy Spirit to build up the church. In other words: The Holy Spirit endues people to edify other people through them. In chapters 12 through 14 of 1 Corinthians we find the most extensive discussion on the charisms. In his introduction to this passage Paul writes (1 Corinthians 12:4-6):
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.”
The origin of the term “charism” is the Greek word for grace (charis). This points to the fact that charisms cannot be acquired or earned, but they are given and allotted as it pleases the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:11). It is a great honor that God, in his grace, wants to work through us, is it not? God could carry out his plans by himself or through angels, but he chose to use people who are ready to receive from the Holy Spirit and to be led by him.
Although charisms are gifts bestowed by God, Christians are also summoned to desire them (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1). They should eagerly long to be used by the Holy Spirit. From my experience I would say that this does not always happen. Many Christians are skeptical towards the gifts of the spirit, maybe because they have witnessed how gifts were abused or applied faultily. Nevertheless, the incorrect use of the gifts should not lead us to not using them at all. We should learn from our mistakes und do things correctly. Could it be that churches loose their spiritual power today because Christian no longer desire the gifts of the spirit? From my point of view we should actively pursue to be used by the Holy Spirit for the edification of his church.
We find the best-known list of charisms in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. In this passage the apostle Paul introduces us to nine gifts of the spirit, e.g. the word of wisdom or the gift of faith. Other lists of gifts can be found in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Peter 4:10-11. Moreover, in Ephesians 4:11 five ministry gifts are named, but rather they are titles for individuals or offices. Thus I would differentiate e.g. between the office of a prophet and the gift of speaking prophetically. I would also differentiate between natural abilities like the talent to sing or to practice a certain trade and the gifts bestowed by the Spirit. But one thing is always true: It is God who gives the different charisms to human beings and he has good intentions and a certain goal in doing so. These gifts are not meant for individuals to take center stage, but for the edification of the community. This edification is the primary goal of the work of the Holy Spirit through us.