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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual gifts’

Separating myself from “corrupting influences” is not so easy. It’s a matter of degree, that difference between good, better & best. In some areas, I have been successful and on occasion, I have been blessed and used in a powerful way but it’s an erratic arrangement.

II Timothy 2:21
So whoever cleanses himself/herself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself/herself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself/herself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.
[Amplified]

Some of this “separation” feels too strict and legalistic, like those Pharisaical laws that disallowed touching contaminated things without all kinds of ceremonial washings and waiting times. It smacks of the story that Jesus told about the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-37] who broke all kinds of laws to minister to an injured and “unclean” man. There are contemporary versions of this, various religious sects that will not allow people of differing beliefs to sit at table or to share in communion or other sacred acts.

And so I manage to excuse or validate some of my choices in the name of freedom. But it can be a slippery slope, I know.

I think it’s important to recognize the value of single-minded piety, as long as it is also lived with grace and generosity toward others who do not live in the same way. That kind of life does indeed prepare the mind and soul for greater challenges of faith. There are other hints to this concept like Paul’s references to the athletes who prepare hard for the race, who practice their craft diligently, who commit their energies toward attaining a particular goal.

In earlier years of my faith journey, I have somewhat foolishly asked God to drop gifts and signs on me, to use me as that intermediary for healing or miracles. And yes, it’s true that these are gifts; it’s possible that God, for the sake of the moment, might grant such experiences. But for the long haul? I think it’s the warriors of faith, the ones who don’t necessarily shy away from “corruptions” and “contaminations,” they simply don’t have time or interest there. It’s a non-issue.

If I am in a time of prayer and meditation, I am not watching the unenlightening television show or browsing the Internet for inappropriate content. My “self” is elsewhere engaged.

It all boils down to this for me: to be used for “noble purpose” is part and parcel of my daily life, how I manage the little things [Luke 16:10a]. Thanks be to God.

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This is a partner verse to the previous message about training myself up to be Godly — also gift-based. Can’t train if I don’t know what I’m training to do and can’t nurture (opposite of neglect) my gifts if I don’t know what they are.

I Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Back in the day, Timothy had a specific experience when a group of elders prayed over him and layed on hands (a practice mentioned in a variety of places in scripture – a focused prayer). That day, apparently, a gift was given. What did that look like? Did someone speak the gift and another verify it? Did the Holy Spirit fall upon Timothy in some kind of dramatic way like a “tongue of fire?” Did Timothy, himself, proclaim a revelation of the gift?

We’ll never really know. But what about me? Is there a gift for me?

Many people I know believe this was one of the spiritual gifts (like those listed in I Corinthians 12 or Romans 12). But if that is true, how does one neglect a gift of that kind? If I have the “gift of prophecy,” let’s say (the speaking forth of God’s message or in some cases, foretelling of future events), how would I nurture it? How would I neglect it? Is it just a matter of using it? But how do I “use” a gift? It’s not like I can wield a prophecy at will. If it’s a gift, then it’s pretty much up to the giver to decide when to pass it along. In this case, that would be the Holy Spirit.

There are some people who believe they can find out what their gifts are by taking an online assessment test either here or here or even here. It used to be that such assessments were the domain of fringe churches and primarily independent churches, but now, even the mainline denominations have gotten into the spiritual identification business.

I’m being a little catty and arch here because it has started to feel a little like a child at Christmas sitting under the tree and trying to figure out what’s in the brightly wrapped packages. I no longer believe the gifts are determined or discovered in this way.

I believe God gives gifts as they are needed. Period.

We can either choose to use that gift in the moment or not. If we don’t use it, then it is not in operation. That does not mean the gift is lost to me or that God won’t give that gift again tomorrow.

If the Holy Spirit wants to heal, then that gift is given and the same for all the others. It’s possible that a person may have a sensitivity to one gift over another, but again, I think it depends on the time, the place, the need, the desire, etc.

So, if what I am saying is true, how would Timothy neglect his gift? I think it’s the gift of the mystery of the Christ. That is the ultimate gift and we neglect that gift when we don’t spend time to connect with the Holy Spirit, to pray, to commune, to contemplate, and then to respond to that time with actions, like love, touch, talking, listening, giving, or anything else the Spirit prompts.

I suppose there can be a gift of a mantle of sorts, like the passing from Elijah to Elisha [II Kings 2:13-14] but again, how that gift is used by the individual may be different even though the mantle is passed. Something to think about for another day, I think.

But for today, I merely ask the Lord to show me the way of nurture, that I, too, would not neglect that God has given to me. Alleluia.

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