When Spiritual Gifts Become Annoyances
- October 18, 2018
- Lori Travers
My daughter was 21 at the time and she was dating this guy that seemed quite nice. We’ll call him Cody. They went on a few dates and she invited him to our church at the time. He enjoyed his time there and it happened to be fall festival time, as the church was planning a day full of bouncy houses, free burgers and dogs, hayrides, and an assortment of other fall-ish festivities.
Crystal (my daughter) was into face painting and had invited her bf to join her in that simple expression of outreach. Unfortunately, when the list of names came to the pastor’s wife and the powers that be of names to help with the festivities, Cody’s name came into suspicion. I was approached with deep expressions of concern with, “We aren’t sure where Cody is at. How do you know whether or not he’s saved. It might not be a good idea for him to help out in this capacity as we don’t really know where he’s coming from.” All this worry over face painting.
Another scene with said victims happened at my home. The youth group leaders decided to have their youth group at our house as a way of connecting the leaders with the youth in a homey environment. Unbeknownst to us, the ulterior motive was to get Cody “saved”. While having a bite to eat, they strategically bit into my daughter’s boyfriend, placing him on the hot seat and asking what he really believed, and had he trusted Jesus as his Savior, and was he plugged into a church…shooting question after question at him like a damaging stream of bullets. When I realized what was happening, I stood up and asked them all to leave now please (I guess back then I was a bit too demure to boot them out on their backsides!). After they left I profusely apologized to Cody. He “understood”, but he and Crystal broke up soon after.
I realized these zealous evangelists felt that they were doing their Christian duty (Onward Christian Soldiers!) by holding this unsuspecting sinner’s feet to the fire. But I guarantee, Cody never felt the love of God in that environment and possibly has felt the bitter taste of legalism on his tongue.
The gifts of the Spirit are to be manifested in an atmosphere of love. We weren’t meant to display them like badges of honor from Captain Jesus. They were always meant to be exercised in a spirit of patience and kindness, humility, void of envy, courtesy and consideration, hoping, enduring and believing the best, and never failing.
1 Corinthians 13 is smack-dab in the middle of Paul’s treatise on exercising spiritual gifts. He’s exhorting that practicing these gifts without the fruit of the Spirit present, we will sound like GONG GONG GONG (or is it, BONG BONG BONG??)
So where has the Spirit gifted you?
Are you a teacher? I happen to love this gift. BUT do you feel the need to “teach” others whenever you are in their company? Can you just simply enjoy being in the presence of others and listening to their views on issues without taking out your mental teacher’s edition and correcting those who have a different perspective?
Are you an evangelist? The Lord and His angels rejoice when one sinner repents. But is every relationship a possible project to create a salvation notch on your belt? Are you constantly turning the conversation to spiritual things that you never get to know the heart of the person you’re speaking with? No one wants to be your project.
How about generosity? Giving is at the heart of Jesus. But have paid your bills? Is your generosity a means by which you get validation from others? Are you using your money as a means to control others?
Prophecy? This is a most desired gift! Yet, if used improperly can wreak havoc in and on the Body of Christ as it must be a word given by the Lord for the edification of the church. If one prophesies, then he or she must do it with a clear word from the Lord, speaking such at an appropriate time, and, again, in a spirit of love and not self-edification.
I could go on and speak of mercy gone south when it becomes the annoying person who tries to fix everyone, the gift of tongues used loudly and inappropriately, or one with the gift of spiritual discernment who sees demons lurking in every setting.
But really, this isn’t meant to condemn. I bring this up because I have been one who has inappropriately used a gift and have only created distance between myself and those I was exercising that gift upon.
ALL gifts must operate with sensitivity to Holy Spirit, sensitivity to those we are administering our gifts to, and always and at all times, with a base of LOVE. We might be able to move mountains with our faith-gift, but if love is not the base of our incredible faith, all anyone will experience is that clanging gong.
May our gifts create hearts that move toward God’s heart, not heads full of annoying noise.