As I read along in Romans 1, I was stopped by reading Paul’s words, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” (verse 11 ESV). I questioned, “How do spiritual gifts strengthen us? Is being strengthened any different than being empowered?”
I usually think of the spiritual gifts (exhortation, teaching, mercy, etc.) as empowering us to fulfill God’s plans for us–the assignments He gives us. Where is being strengthened in that?
I looked up the wording of other versions and found:
“make you strong” NIV
“help you grow strong in the Lord “(NLT)
“that you may be established” (NASB)
I began brainstorming how spiritual gifts strengthen, establish and make us strong.
For one thing, they give us confidence. We know that we have something to offer the Body of Christ and also unbelievers. We are empowered to do all that God calls us to do. And if God calls us to do something different that seems outside our qualifications or abilities, we can know for sure He will provide the ability to do it for His glory.
Last week I was at the Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference where Liz Curtis Higgs was our evening Bible teacher. It was fun to reconnect with her and marvel about God’s work in Him using her. I remembered the time I called her to interview her so that I could include her in one of my books and she told me how the Lord was directing her into writing a novel when previously she had only written non-fiction. And of course, now we are all blessed by her wonderful novels. But at the time she said she was really scared because the Lord was drawing her out of her comfort zone. But she wanted to go where He led and knew He would provide the skills she needed. That’s having confidence in the Lord’s spiritual gifts.
Here’s another, God’s spiritual gifts make us feel special. Is that too “feeling” oriented for you? Maybe so, but my spiritual gifts make me feel special. My specific spiritual gifts were designed specifically for me by the Holy Spirit for the specific tasks and missions that God has for me. You are given your specific spiritual gifts for the tasks and missions God has for you. And His plans for you and I are unique and special. I hope you feel special. God knew His plan for you from eternity past (Psalm 139). You are living it out. I’m a Princess of the King on His royal mission. You are His Princess (or Prince!) also. Ride in joy!
For a third, they make us feel like we’re part of God’s family. This is obviously related to the other two, but each of our specific gifts is designed to cooperate with the gifts and callings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t think any of us are given all the spiritual gifts otherwise we could be our own little kingdom. We’re supposed to need each other and God contributes to that by giving each of us several gifts but not all. We can be strengthened, established, and made strong by “rubbing fur with each other”–as my husband, Larry, says. It’s good to need each other.
If you live within driving distance of Los Angeles, specifically Pasadena, an opportunity to rub fur together will be at the CMTA convention at the Pasadena Convention Center this Friday and Saturday. I’ll be giving a workshop on both days. Come and visit me. Let’s learn from each other there because there will be numerous workshops and main speakers on a variety of subjects that will strengthen, establish, and make us strong. Check out www.cmtaconvention.org. Hope to see you there.
Well, I’ve thought of three ways we are established and strengthened by our spiritual gifts. Can you think of any others? How does your spiritual gift make you stronger or established in the Lord?