Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The
highest ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and, when he received
his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had
met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton
down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example
of interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in
their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the
other. After their graduation, they planned to practice law together.
Gary Inrig, Life in His Body.
The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa -- the city
of his birth -- but only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an
unfortunate condition, for it is a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and
handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is discarded, it begins to decay.
The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case,
valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn
from all service to others loses its meaning.
Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.
The Detroit News carried a humorous little story about Bill Cosby's aged mother that
illustrates how useless gifts are unless they are used. She had been raised in poverty,
and the family had very little money as Bill was growing up. As a result, she never had
modern conveniences and had gotten accustomed to doing things the hard way. When the
children were old enough to get jobs, they often gave their mother appliances as Christmas
gifts to make her life easier. But she wouldn't use them. Bill especially remembered that
after a while his mother had two or three toasters. But she left them in their boxes and
put them on top of the refrigerator. At breakfast she would still do the toast in the
oven. If the boys protested, she would say, "Leave them on the refrigerator. I'm used
to doing it the old way."
Daily Bread, March 4, 1990.
Commentary and Devotional
Definitions from Dr. Earl Radmacher and Gordon McMinn Teaching gifts.
-Prophecy: setting before people the Word and wisdom of God persuasively.
-Encouragement: drawing alongside to comfort, encourage, rebuke, and lead someone into
insight toward action.
-Teaching: laying down in a systematic order the complete truth of a doctrine and applying
it incisively to life.
-The message of wisdom: Locating formerly unknown principles as well as combining known
principles of God's Word and communicating them to fresh situations.
-The message of knowledge: Arranging the facts of Scripture, categorizing these into
principles, and communicating them to repeated or familiar situations.
-Service Gifts. Contributing: Giving most liberally and beyond all human expectation.
Mercy: Being sensitive or empathetic to people who are in affliction or misery and lifting
internal burdens with cheerfulness.
-Helps: Seeing tasks and doing them for or with someone in order to lift external burdens.
-Distinguishing spirits: Detecting a genuine or spurious motive by distinguishing the
spirit-source behind any person's speech or act.
-Evangelism: Communicating the gospel with power and persuasiveness as well as equipping
the saints for evangelism.
-Leadership Gifts. Leadership (executive ability): Standing before people and inspiring
followers by leading them aggressively but with care.
-Administration (legislative ability): Standing behind people to collect data, set policy,
and develop plans which will guide a course of action with wisdom.
-Faith: Seeing through any problem to the Ultimate Resource.
What about the so-called sign gifts, such as healing and speaking in tongues, referred
to in today's text? To us, Hebrews 2:4 suggests that they were intended to be confirming
signs for the Apostles, and ceased with them. Others feel they are still for today, but if
so, one thing is clear: they are given sovereignly by the Spirit for specific purposes and
are the exception, not the rule.
Today in the Word, July, 1990, p. 19.
We are right to say that spiritual gifts come from the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11). However
we go on to think of them in terms either of giftedness (human ability to do things
skillfully and well) or of supernatural novelty (power to speak in tongues, to heal, to
receive messages straight from God to give to others, or whatever). We have not formed the
habit of defining gifts in terms of Christ, the head of the body, and his present work
from heaven in our midst. In this we are unscriptural.
Paul makes it clear that spiritual gifts are given in Christ; they are enrichments from
Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 assumes the Christ-oriented perspective that 1 Corinthians 1:4-7
established. It is vital that we should see this, or we shall be confusing natural with
spiritual gifts to the end of our days.
Nowhere does Paul or any other New Testament writer define a spiritual gift to us. But
Paul's assertion that the use of gifts edifies (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12, 17,26; Eph. 4:12),
shows what his idea of gift was.
For Paul it is only through Christ, in Christ, and by learning of and responding to
Christ, that anyone is ever edified. So spiritual gifts must be defined in terms of Christ
as actualized powers of expressing, celebrating, displaying, and thus communicating Christ
in one way or another, either by word or deed.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw
Publishers, 1986, Page December 9.
...a spiritual gift is spiritual in character (pneumatikon), sovereignly given by God
the Holy Spirit (charismata), to others (diakonia), in the power of God (energeema), with
an evident manifestation of the Holy Spirit through the Christian as he serves God
To summarize spiritual fruit, it: (1) is given to all believers; (2) produces spiritual
character; (3) is singular (fruit is singular, meaning one's character is a unit); (4) is
permanent (1 Cor. 13:8-10); and (5) grows internally. To summarize spiritual gifts, note
the contrast to the previous five points. Spiritual gifts: (1) are given to specific
believers; (2) produce spiritual service; (3) are plural (Flynn lists nineteen, Wagner,
twenty-seven); (4) will cease; and (5) operate externally.
Jerry Falwell, Elmer Towns, Stepping out on Faith, p. 127.