Spiritual Pride and Gift Envy

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I plead guilty to some of the bad attitudes and actions of the early Corinthian church.

I will also plead guilty to delaying for another day the discussion of the individual gifts of the Spirit.

Besides an enumeration of the gifts, the next verses highlight three possible ways people can respond to spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12.8-11To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

To another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

(1) Spiritual Pride – Spiritual pride is ugly and I have a case of it.

The great evangelist, Billy Sunday, often said, “Don’t pop up your spiritual umbrella and have my words fall on somebody else.”

Taking down my umbrella, I’m going to apply Paul’s teaching to myself.

Spiritual power can bring about spiritual pride.

For example, I have the spiritual gift of teaching. The Holy Spirit has gifted me the ability to explain the Bible in a way that increases the knowledge and understanding of my listeners.

When I am critical of other teachers or preachers, pride is present.

When I congratulate myself on a good sermon, pride is showing its ugly head.

When I humbly give all the glory to God but inwardly bask in the glory, spiritual pride is mixed with false humility.

First Corinthians is filled with corrections to spiritual pride. Here are two important reminders.

“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4.7).

If we follow Paul’s logic, there should be no pride with regard to our gifts. Genuine humility is the proper response to God’s gracious work through us.

Spiritual pride is ugly and repulsive. It is like someone with a bad case of body odor. Everyone smells it, but the person who has it.

Paul reminds the proud, “So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall” (1 Corinthians 10.12).

The answer to the many aspects of spiritual pride is self-examination.

A great pray is, “Lord, please show me myself.” Follow that prayer with, “Lord, please show me yourself.”

(2) Gift Envy – Yes, I’m guilty of that, too.

Another quote from Billy Sunday: “If I’m shooting down a hole and you’re down there, you’re going to get hit.”

Don’t leave me alone with my confessions. See if anything I say applies to your life.

I remember being in a prayer meeting with pastors thinking, “Wow! I wish I could pray like that.”

I remember driving by a very successful church and envying their progress. To combat my envious heart, I prayed for God’s blessing for that church each time I passed it.

There are better communicators, better scholars, better pastors, better leaders . . . you get the point.

We engage in spiritual envy when we are discontent over the fact that we don’t have a gift that the Spirit has given to someone else.

Paul goes to great lengths in chapter 12 to say that the Spirit distributes gifts as he sees fit.

The Holy Spirit is infinitely wiser than us and he knows the exact gifts that fit with who we are. He also knows what gifts are needed for the people around us.

The best course of action is to accept the gifts he has given us with gratitude.

I will repeat what I wrote yesterday. The best thing we can do with spiritual gifts is to be surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

When we are yielded to the Spirit, he can do anything with us that he wants to do. Neither pride nor envy will come into play when we are surrendered.

(3) All of the gifts are important.

The leaders of the church in Corinth were fixated on the gifts of tongues and prophecy.

The surrounding culture placed a high value on tongues and prophecy in the pagan temples. Status-seeking church leaders sought to imitate their fellow citizens.

Paul listed nine gifts of this Spirit in this passage. The list in 1 Corinthians 12 does not include all of the gifts.

He went to great lengths in his argument to emphasize that all of the gifts came from the Spirit.

He summarized his argument and wrote, “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Corinthians 12.11).

Rather than focus on whether you like your gift or not, try this. Surrender as much of yourself to the Holy Spirit as possible.

Allow the Spirit to work through you as he sees fit. Relax and don’t worry that you don’t have one gift or another.

On the other hand, when the Spirit uses you, don’t be proud. Charles Spurgeon once said, “A good arrow is important, but high praise goes to the archer.”

Spiritual Gifts and Churches

I join those who believe that the Spirit has distributed gifts to churches. Not all of the gifts are in one congregation but have been distributed to the entire body of Christ in a community.

I trust one of my pastor friends in the area of deliverance. On two occasions, I asked for his help. My role was to support his work in prayer.

He is a very humble man and doesn’t see his gift as superior to mine and worthy of pride. I don’t envy his ministry, but I am very grateful that God has placed someone in our area with this gift.

Baptists don’t emphasize speaking in tongues, but tongues are a valuable gift as a prayer language.

I don’t have the gift of tongues, but I am grateful for intercessors who do. Our city is richer because of their ministry.

Tomorrow’s YouTube video and blog article will discuss the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

For now, the most important aspect of spiritual gifts is that we are yielded to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer Requests

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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