A question was posed about the dysfunctional use of spiritual gifts. I hesitate with this because by definition, spiritual gifts are special divine empowerments. For me to say that spiritual gifts can be used dysfunctionally feels like an affront to God, like He can make a mistake, like His ways are not perfect, like His power is not sufficient. When spiritual gifts are truly used, they accomplish what they are supposed to according to His power at work in and through us. Maybe we should ask if dysfunction is present because spiritual gifts are not really being used. Or, perhaps the dysfunction is in the person and not in the use of the gift. Maybe it is our approach to spiritual gifts that is dysfunctional.
The Encarta World English Dictionary provides three definitions for the word dysfunctional:
1. relating badly
2. not performing as expected
3. affected by disease or impairment
When something is dysfunctional, then, it is not functioning as it should. In what ways might our approach to spiritual gifts be dysfunctional? The next three posts will attempt to answer that question. (Subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.)
Effects of Dysfunction:
Dysfunction affects interpersonal relationships, performance, and even our health. The effects spill over onto other people. So, in the Body of Christ, we will begin to see disunity, ineffectiveness, and a lack of growth because of a dysfunctional approach to spiritual gifts.
The effects of dysfunction are the opposite of God’s desires for the Church.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (Eph. 4:11-15)
Hence, a dysfunctional approach to spiritual gifts does not glorify God.
As with any kind of dysfunction, we can change when we apply the following to our situation:
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (Jn. 8:32)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12)
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:3)