Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.– 1 Cor 12:4-7 (ESV)
In preparation for a course I will be teaching at our church on the gifts, I have been thinking a lot about the gifts and the nature of spiritual gifts and I have noticed a tendency in myself in the way that I perceive the gifts, a tendency that I think needs correcting. Many times we separate each of the gifts and we say “that one has this gift”, and “that one has that gift”. We make the gifts out to be inanimate tools, as things to be used. We break them up and assign them to people. But in doing that we miss the most important point.
We miss that the true gift that God gave us was not prophecy or tongues or service but that of himself; that of Holy Spirit. It is He manifesting, as 1 Cor 12:7 says, through us, that results in what we call a gift. 1 Cor 12 says that there many different manifestations / gifts of the Spirit, but the same spirit. One Spirit, given as the Gift, but manifestating in each of us uniquely.
When we see a gift in operation what we really are seeing is a visible expression, or demonstration, of the nature, character, and will of the invisible God… at work in and through the lives of his children. It is true that the gifts are a means by which God builds his kingdom and develops his children in maturity. But we must never divorce these gifts from the Giver, who is Holy Spirit. It is our relationship with the Holy Spirit that we want to develop most of all, not simply the gifts.
So before I do any teaching on the gifts, I realize that we need to first stop and take time to know the Spirit, to know Holy Spirit. Notice that I drop “the” from His title. We many times, consciously or subconsciously, divorce ourselves from something when we afix “The” to the beginning of. I.e. “The man ate his sandwich”, rather than “John at his sandwich” Using someone’s proper name both serves to connect us with the person, and is a a sign of respect for them. The telemarketing community has discovered this and it is why they ask if they may call you by your first name, it gives them an edge. Though I am not seeking an edge with God by calling him by his name, I am seeking to remove the distance that we have from him by dropping the “The” from his name. It’s a personal choice, but having come from a history where I thought “The Holy Spirit” was a type of prayer you said before you read your Bible (like the “Our Father”), it’s important to me to make the distinction and personalize my relationship with him. It has been good in helping me develop a closeness with him. And that is exactly what I want to talk about, personal relationship.
We are called to a personal relationship with God. God is an intimate God. He longs for relationship with us, and codifies this relationship in his titles: God our Provider, God our Healer, God our Father, Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, the Bridegroom. God’s titles identify him as powerful and intimate. These are the 2 sides of God: Worthy of Respect, Worthy of Love. But what titles does Holy Spirit go by? Counsellor, Comforter, Power of the Most High. On one hand, he is the one who hovered over the surface of the deep, carrying out creation as Father spoke it (Genesis 1), and the other hand he is our counsellor, our comforter. Comforter, especially, conjures up intimate, gentle, comforting imagery. Holy Spirit is the one that comes to live inside of us when we are saved (Eph 1:13-14), He is the one that causes us to feel loved by, and connected to, God the Father (Romans 8:15). He is the one that points us to Christ (1 Peter 1:10-11). So, in reality, our relationship with God first starts with and is sustained by Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit is humble and gentle, yet powerful. He never draws attention to himself and always seek to draw attention to Jesus, who seeks to draw attention to His / our Father. But Holy Spirit is the one that represents Father and Jesus on the earth (John 14:26-29, John 15:26). When you feel close to God, it is Holy Spirit who gives you that sense. When you feel the presence of God, it is Holy Spirit’s presence you feel. When you feel God’s love, it is Holy Spirit expressing that love on behalf of the Godhead. All of our interactions with God come through Holy Spirit. (Though you can learn to discern when it is Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit you are communing with, the communion is still initiated by Holy Spirit).
Conversely, when we seek to approach God and commune with God, it is through Holy Spirit that we commune with God as he is the one that connects us to God (considering he lives in us and is God, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son). It is He who searches our heart and the heart of God and connects our hearts (Romans 8:27).
You could say that he is the “emotional” side of the Godhead. He has been described as the “feminine” side of God (even his Hebrew title “Ruach Hakodesh” is a feminine word form). Please hear me, I am not saying that He is a woman. God is neither male nor female, God is God. But God created as male and female because it takes both to embody God (we are made in his image, Genesis 1:27, so part of the image of God is feminine) and Holy Spirit seems to embody more so that part of God. It is also why blasphemy against him is so horrible. A man can take it when people mock him, but mock his wife and he will lose it.
Anyways, Holy Spirit is the comforting, nurturing part of God (brooding like a hen, which I know Jesus also does 🙂 and is the closest of the Godhead to us. It is he who leads us to Jesus, he presents us to him every time we come in prayer to spend time with God. And in turn Jesus presents us to the Father (John 14:6).
So developing a relationship with Holy Spirit, allows us to touch the heart of God and please God by how we act towards Holy Spirit. You want to see the power and presence of God drastically increase, then honor Holy Spirit, make him feel especially welcome. In the past I gave a message called “Holy Spirit is Your Friend” and it was obvious that He showed up because he was being honored and God honored the honor we showed Him.
It is a Sacrfice
Holy Spirit gives himself to us as a gift, out of his love for us and for Jesus and the Father. He does it selflessly. He chooses to live through us. In that we can limit God, in fact we can grieve him when we choose to block him from ministering to people, by not exercising the gifts that he has given us. It is how God has chosen to act and I can feel, even as I write, the grief of the Spirit for all the times that people had an opportunity to engage with God and change lives and didn’t… out of ignorance, fear, etc… and He weeps every time it happens. This is why relationship with Holy Spirit is so important. You will never willing hurt someone you love.
I encourage you to stop and take the next while to spend time with Holy Spirit. Tell him you love him, thank him for all the things he has done in your life, for every instance of healing, deliverance, every time you felt his presence, every time you felt joy, love, or peace. It was him doing it. He’ll say it was Jesus or the Father, but you and I both know he had a hand in it 🙂 It is a wonderful thing to love Holy Spirit, he doesn’t get enough of it. He doesn’t ask for it, He wants us to worship Jesus (but I know he enjoys it). You could says something like this:
Thank you Holy Spirit for all that you do for us. I am so glad you’re my friend, that you care for me in more ways than I can count. Thank you for choosing to come and live with me, it cannot be easy for you at times as I’m pretty pigheaded at times, but you just keep loving me, encouraging me, and leading me to Jesus. Without you I would never have known Jesus, that alone is reason to celebrate and worship you!! Thank you!!
God Bless you all.