1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant.
What the apostle saw the Divine Spirit doing on the limited area of the early Church, we can see Him doing at large in modern civilised society. Wherever the minds of men are kindled into activity, redeeming them from the thraldom of merely animal existence, there the inspiration of the Divine Spirit is at work. Of this the grandest forms are —
I. THE SATISFACTION OF THE PASSIONATE DESIRE FILLING SO MANY HEARTS, EAGERLY ASKING, WHAT IS TRUE? For that is equivalent to, What is Divine? What is it that really represents to us God's thought and way of working?
1. This gift of the Spirit of truth is condemned by the worldly-minded, because it leads men to question what seems settled.
2. Men under the inspiration of this Spirit are not all impelled into the same departments of inquiry.
(1) One man goes off upon the scientific track and wants to know the truth about the outboard universe.
(2) Others again, feeling that mountains and rivers and animals can tell them little about the most entrancing matter, turn to ask, What is the nature of God and His relation to man? That which inspires this question is the voice of the great Father saying within us, "Seek ye My face."
II. THE REVELATION OF BEAUTY.
1. The faculty which perceives the beautiful, wrought on by the Divine Spirit, was never so generally active as at the present day.
(1) One of the most remarkable developments of the human mind is its recent awaking to the beauty and poetry of the external nature. The elder poets and painters did not go to nature for the inspiration of their masterpieces, but to man and to mythology. People travel in thousands over seas and continents to see a grand waterfall, or a sublime range of mountains.
(2) Musical thought and feeling again has never attained to such wonderful expression, and in the whole history of the world we have never heard such bursts of glorious song as we have heard from Bach, Handel, etc.
2. I know that neither poetry, nor painting, nor music, will of themselves renew a man's moral nature; but if you can inspire along with the love of truth and goodness a love of the grand and the beautiful, you have done a great deal to assist the more direct religious influences.
3. The day will come when religion shall be more closely associated with its natural friends of culture and art, and in combination shalt consecrate the family life and drive out the demon of intemperance.
III. THE GIFT OF GOODNESS OR BENEFICENCE.
1. Gifts of healing were among the spiritual gifts, and we must surely reckon them amongst the most precious gifts vouchsafed to modern days. Human life is besieged by a whole army of diseases and dangers, both of mind and body, so that he who gives his whole mind and energy to prevent, or to heal them, is a gift of God to the sufferer. When every medical man shall become a deep student of his art, seeking for all the new light which God sends, untrammelled by the traditions merely of his profession, he will become a faithful minister of that Spirit who has called him to His Divine work, and an unspeakable blessing to society.
2. "Government" is another item. This, whether local or imperial, must be regarded as one of the greatest of modern boons. Any one who helps to govern a city well, to promote the health and security of its inhabitants, even though he may get scant gratitude for his services, is as clearly a minister of God as he who preaches the gospel. And any man who helps to govern a nation well, who seeks to lead a people on by just laws and wise policy, stands in the front rank among God's eminent servants. The prosperity of a whole nation depends upon such men being at the helm of the national ship.
3. Gifts of speech have become ours in a far more wonderful way than those of the Apostolic Church. The universe has become vocal, and the distant sun and planets are full of speech, telling us something of their own tale. The buried monuments of extinct empires have arisen to tell us the story of their history. Languages which were spoken in the grey dawn of the world speak to us again through the labours of scholars who have wrought at ill-requited work. Nearly all the speech and dialects now spoken in the wide world have been mastered and made intelligible to us. The eastern world speaks to the western as easily as two persons conversing in the same room, and the telegraph girdles the globe with fiery thought and flashing speech. And consider how the channels of communication from mind to mind are multiplied in all civilised communities. There is the greatest of all modern miracles — the daily newspaper, and it would be endless to speak of the books and periodicals that are printed in all departments of inquiry or imagination. And then consider how God has gifted some men with the powers of speech as orators. Think what this modern English tongue becomes in their use of it — flexible, rich, majestic, for the expression of every variety of thought and feeling.
(C. Short, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.