My house church has decided to do a study on Spiritual Gifts. We are diving into the Scriptures ourselves as well as using some Bible Study texts that we've found. The first text we found is called What's so spiritual about your gifts by Henry & Mel Blackaby. I just started the first lesson today.
Here are a couple of items that have stopped me in my path and got me to pondering (and I've only read the first couple pages of this lesson!)
1. In the introduction to the workbook it reminds us that the Holy Scriptures are our textbook and the Holy Spirit is our teacher. Isn't that the way it should be with any Bible study we do? I don't think that is always the way we look at it though. I know I've not always done so in the past.
2. (Be ready, here's the big one for today!) ". . .Christians are seeking gifts of the Holy Spirit and not the Holy Spirit Himself." This is the answer given as one of the major reasons the church has so little impact today compared to the early Christian church. We want power but not the relationship that is required to obtain the power. Our focus and motives are all wrong.
I grew up attending a charismatic church and although I believe spiritual gifts are as relevant today as they were in the early church, I have been very skeptical about them. Part of this is the enemy's lies (see previous post) but I think I now see that part of this is because many times in the past when I've come into contact with manifestations of these gifts, they were not genuine. The person's motives were not pure and as a result the gifts were a way to draw attention to themselves instead of giving glory to God. The focus was self-centered versus God-centered.
There is a part of me that now questions my own motives in pursuing spiritual gifts. What is my focus? This is a fine line for me. On one hand I really need to ask this question. What is my intention in pursuing these gifts? The gifts themselves or am I truely pursuing God? This is a very legitimate question and I can honestly say my motives are often more self-centered than God-centered. However, given the way my mind operates I need to make sure I don't go too far the other way and question my motives to such an extent that I cannot be used of God (see previous post).
This is my lesson for the day. I will continue to puruse God and His gifts because that is what He wants. That is what I was created for! However, while doing so I need to continously ask myself the question and be ready to answer honestly, what is my purpose in doing so? What are my motives? Where is my focus centered, on me or on God? If I cannot honestly say my focus is on Jesus and my relationship with him, then I need to make some adjustments to get back on course. Am I so enamored with self that I have no idea what is on the heart of God?
"We must learn to understand there are no gifts apart from an intimate relationship with the Spirit."
"Many want the Spirit's power but not the Spirit's purity.
The Holy Spirit does not rent out His attributes.
His power is never separated from His glorious Self."
- James A. Stewart
Heaven's Throne Gift