austin sparks, book ministry, christian ministry, daily devotional

January 12

12 JAN – Discriminating Between Spiritual Gifts and Persons

There was at Corinth the spiritual inability to discriminate between spiritual gifts and spiritual persons. In 1 Cor., it is clear that spiritual gifts are not necessarily evidence of people being spiritual – that you can, in this real sense, be a very unspiritual person and have spiritual gifts. You will find that spiritual gifts may, and very often do, only relate to spiritual infancy, and not to spiritual maturity. The possession of such gifts may run side by side in the same life with very serious moral defects. This is a problem, this is startling. But it was so at Corinth. They could not see the difference between spiritual gifts and spiritual persons.

Why should Paul head this whole matter of gifts right up into chapter 13? What is the meaning of chapter 13 if it is not this? “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.” Is he suggesting an impossible thing? Is this a merely hypothetical conjecture which has no reality in life or experience that a man can speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, and, being like that, be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal? Speaking with tongues – surely tongues are the ultimate thing, a great evidence of spirituality? Not at all! The supreme feature of spirituality is Divine love. God is love, and we are to be made perfect in love. “Faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6) – this is maturity and this is spirituality. “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual.”

So he heads this whole thing right up through gifts to love, which is spirituality. He says, I may have all these gifts, and yet may be an unspiritual person. The gifts may only be marks of my spiritual infancy. I am not saying that that is necessarily so. Paul said that he spoke with tongues more than they all. But spiritual gifts and spirituality do not necessarily go together. That is the point. Spiritual maturity did not go hand in hand with their gifts at Corinth. They thought that the gifts meant much more than they did mean, that they were the evidences of great spiritual measure. They did not see. There is a lot of difference between inward formation and merely outward action.

Well then, in Corinth, spirituality meant a heavenly standard of wisdom and power; the Body as a unified whole; and spiritual measure inward more than spiritual gifts outward. That is spirituality.

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