Spiritual Gifts and Spirituality
Are spiritual gifts a sign of spirituality?
To answer that question, look at the example of the Corinthian Church in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul made this observation about the church in 1 Corinthians 1:7 --
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
However, if we flip to chapter three, he describes them as infants in Christ, as worldly (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Obviously spiritual gifts are not a sign of spirituality or spiritual maturity. Immature, even carnal, Christians can use gifts.
If not spiritual gifts, what constitutes spiritual maturity?
God's long-range goal is that we become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Notice how the following Scripture points to character traits, not spiritual gifting, as that which indicates spirituality.
- Traits of godliness do not include spiritual gifts but character qualities, with love being the ultimate characteristic.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ... (2 Pet. 1:5-9)
- Qualifications for leadership in the church make no reference to spiritual gifts but rather much about character.
See: 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1
- The fruit of the Spirit, of the same Spirit who gifted us, reflect Christ-like character traits, beginning with love.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
- Jesus pointed to the supremacy of love, not spiritual gifts, when He identified the greatest commandments.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matt. 22:37-40)
Love tops the list when measuring maturity and spirituality, not giftedness. Is it any wonder that within the context of biblical passages about gifting, you'll find an expression about love? And, according to 1 Corinthians 13, any or all gifts mean nothing without love.