“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
To be effective, spiritual gifts must be used in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of the flesh.
One of the constant battles all believers face is to avoid ministering their spiritual gifts in the power of the flesh. Even those of us who are called to be preachers (prophets) need to subject our spirits to other mature believers (1 Cor. 14:32). As a pastor, I am not spiritual just because I stand behind a pulpit and preach. Paul instructs us, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment” (1 Cor. 14:29). Those who teach God’s Word are not infallible; therefore, they must allow other qualified believers to verify the truth of what they proclaim.
Whenever Christians rely on their own strength, wisdom, and desire to minister, whatever they accomplish is a mockery and a waste. But whenever they minister by the Spirit’s power, the result is pleasing to God and has lasting value (“gold, silver, precious stones. . . . If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward,” 1 Cor. 3:12, 14). Essentially, all a believer needs to pray is, “Spirit of God, use me,” and divine energy will activate and flow through his or her ministry to fellow believers and unbelievers.
You can use your spiritual gift effectively by faithfully following three basic steps: Pray—continually confess and turn from your sins (1 John 1:9) and ask God to use you in the Holy Spirit’s power. Yield yourself—always determine to live according to God’s will, not the world’s (Rom. 6:16; 12:12). Be filled with the Spirit—let the Spirit control all of your thoughts, decisions, words, and actions. Commit everything to Him, and He will minister through you.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Confess any and all times lately that you have counted on your human ability rather than on the Spirit’s power to minister to others.
- Pray that this week God would give you a clear opportunity to exercise your spiritual gift for His glory.
For Further Study
Read 1 Samuel 15:1-23.
- In what way did King Saul use his own insight rather than follow God’s command?
- What can be the consequence of such disobedience (vv. 22-23; see also 1 Sam. 13:8-14)?