When it comes to buying gifts what could be more convenient than a gift card! Have you ever bought a gift card for someone? Could be for groceries, or a restaurant, or department store. But it can’t be used until you go through the check-out line and have it activated. Or, maybe you’ve opened an account at a bank or with a credit card company. You open the account, and soon the ATM card or credit card arrives in the mail with a message like this one that says something like, “To activate this card, call this number…” You can’t use the card until it’s activated.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
When I get the bank card in the mail, it’s no good until it’s activated. Even if I have money in the bank, if I try to use the card it’s no good–until it’s activated.
Likewise, each of us has been given gifts to use in this life for the common good—for the sake of the world God loves. Paul says, it’s God who activates all of them in everyone. You don’t have to call some spiritual 800-number for your gifts to be activated. God is the one who gives the gift. God is the one who activates it.
What are your gifts? What abilities has God given you to bring the light of hope and love into the lives of other people? What gifts promote the common good?
Whatever your gifts, God is the one who has given the gift. And, it’s God who activates it. Did you notice something about the word “activate”? It contains the word active. Our gifts are not meant to be something that sit on the shelf. Our gifts are meant to be used.
What if I have a bank card? There are many possibilities for how I can use it. What if this card is now activated? I now have the freedom to put it to work. But, what if the card just sits in my wallet? What if it’s never used? If I have a card—even if it’s activated—it’s still not much good until it’s used.
Notice the list of gifts that Paul describes that God has activated in us:
wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, the ability to speak to others in ways they can understand, the ability to interpret what someone else is saying in a way that can be understood. No one has all gifts; but each of us has at least one of these gifts.
This is a powerful, amazing list of gifts! Do you believe that God has activated in you something as powerful as the gift of healing? Or faith? Or knowledge? Or discernment? Sometimes we get the idea that it’s the really spiritual people who get the spiritual gifts. Or, maybe we think that we need to earn such gifts. But no, Paul says, it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The gifts have been given, and activated. The only question is: Will they be used?
Pentecost is the season of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who has activated our God-given gifts. May the Spirit likewise lead us to use those gifts not for our own sake but to the glory of God, and for the sake of the world God loves.