I want you to think of spiritual gifts as puzzle pieces.
Just as you would never start a puzzle if they had no shared source (50 pieces a train puzzle, 50 pieces from a light houses on the Atlantic, and 100 pieces wild cats on the prairie) Paul reveals to us that the shared origin of the gifts…
Many gifts but one Spirit! 1 Cor. 12: 4-6 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
We see from the very beginning a diversity and unity playing out simultaneously as Paul lays out three distinct expressions from the same Spirit: different kinds of gifts, service, and work. Although each may sound synonymous instead they are very much progressive. First, the Holy Spirit expresses the Spiritual Gifts onto each of us at the point of baptism, secondly, we are called on to express the gifts through our lives in service, and they begin to be expressed in the lives of others through work, which Paul uses to denote effectiveness. Warren Wiersbe in his book 50 Christians Every Christian Should Know said, “God builds a man and then uses that man to build a work.” Just like a rock being thrown on a placid lake, the ripples play out as the breath of life continues to make a bigger impact.
Just as we each have a puzzle piece, we each have something to contribute to the overall progress of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, in many ways it resembles a football game. Nicky Gumbel sets the scene, “There are 22,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise, watching 22 people who are in desperate need of a rest.” (Alpha Course). What ensues is the minority working while the majority watches, leaving the minority to put together the full picture of what God has called us to without all the pieces.
Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law showed the prosperity of the diversity of gifts but interdependence. The highest ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and, when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspertine. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspertine had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. Gary Inrig, Life in His Body.
In the church the gifts of the Spirit takes that which is imperfect and makes it impenetrable–meaning there no benchwarmers vs. starters—or spectators versus stars—The prophet Joel prophesized, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Not just some but all believers. If you believe and have been baptized you have been blessed with a gift.