Unlocking the Greater Gifts
The instruction from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth was that they would “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor 12:31). It appears from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that the church there had already achieved a certain level of experience in the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s challenge to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” indicates that even though they had some experience there was still an even greater level that they could attain to.
No matter what our experience with the Holy Spirit has been up to this point we should always live with the understanding that there is, and always will be more. Even Jesus who produced, and experienced extraordinary miracles challenged his disciples to do “even greater” things than what they had seen first hand with Jesus. There is a pathway to the deeper things of the Spirit, and there are some keys that are necessary to unlock the “greater gifts”.
The Kingdom of God has been referred to as an “upside down Kingdom”. In other words the culture that exists in God’s Kingdom and the culture that exists in this world are polar opposites. God’s Kingdom really isn’t “upside down” it is right side up, the world has been operating upside down since Adam fell. In this world many who climb to the top often do so at the expense of others, but greatness in the Kingdom of God always comes at the expense of self. When Jesus’ disciples we’re arguing as to which was the greatest it’s interesting that Jesus never rebuked them for wanting to be great He instead instructed them on how to achieve greatness by becoming the “servant of all”. Servanthood is key to unlocking the greater gifts and true servanthood is rooted in humility.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 5 ”Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus’ level of exultation was equally matched to his level of humility. Jesus received the highest name because he humbled himself to the lowest place. Paul’s instruction to us is to think just as Jesus thinks. Humility by definition is “the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective and respect for one’s place in context”. It is a unique paradigm that genuine humility gives way to genuine greatness and It is only through humility that we achieve significance in the Kingdom of God.
1 Peter 5:6 ”Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”.
Peter, who is quoting from the Old Testament directly connects humility with promotion.
Consider the life of Moses. Hebrews chapter 11 tells us that Moses purposely chose to remove himself from Pharos’s family to be identified with the Israelites who were living as slaves. It wasn’t until Moses was living as a shepherd tending someone else’s sheep that the call of God comes. Moses is arguably the most influential leader of the old testament not only does he deliver the Israelites from slavery he also becomes their leader and the representative of God to them for 40 years. God used Moses to perform signs wonders, and miracles. Moses instituted God’s law, and wrote the first five books of the old testament. Moses regularly had face to face encounters with God that were so powerful it caused his skin to glow with the glory of God. All the experiences that Moses had were the result of a decision that Moses made to humble himself.
Numbers 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” This verse in Numbers states that Moses was the most humble man on the earth. It was Moses who wrote that. Some Bible scholars have argued that if Moses really was humble he would have never wrote those words. In reality the Holy Spirit wrote those words through a man who was humble enough to allow the Holy Spirit to make that declaration over him. False humility will always cheapen itself to a lower standard in an attempt to look like the real thing. It’s really pride trying to look like humility. Real humility knows who it is and will have the scars to prove it. Moses was the most humble man on the planet at that time, and because of his humility God exalted Moses to the highest position available at that time.
In Romans chapter 12 verse 3 Paul writes that we each have different gifts, and that those gifts come as a result of the work of grace in our lives. The greek word used for gifts in this instance is “charisma” which comes from the greek word “charis” and is translated “grace”. What we refer to as “gifts of the Spirit” in reality might be better understood as “gifts of grace” that come through the Spirit. Grace is the gift, grace is known as “God’s undeserved favor” God gives us grace to enable us to be transformed into the image of His Son. The goal therefore is not to produce “Spiritual gifts” but rather to be like Jesus. That’s not to say that Spiritual gifts are not to be produced, but to understand that the Spirit works through us by the gift of grace to make us look more like Jesus. Jesus worked miracles everyday after the Spirit descended upon Him at the Jordan river and Jesus made it clear that “signs would follow those who believe” and that we would do even “greater works” than Jesus did. What Jesus was describing is impossible without the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on an individual’s life made possible through grace. In Acts chapter 3 Peter and John heal the lame man at the gate Beautiful. When Peter sees that the people are amazed by this miraculous event he responds by saying: “why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” Peter understood that this miracle was produced as a result of the Holy Spirit’s power working through the grace that was on their lives.
1 Peter 5:6 which was quoted earlier indicates that exaltation is directly linked to humility. In Luke 14 Jesus told a parable that further illustrates this. He Said:8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.” We are often inclined to seek higher positions, but the pathway to a higher position starts when we purposefully take the lower position. Promotion is directly related to humility just as Jesus states in Verse 11 when he said: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Peter and John discovered in Acts chapter 3 that supernatural power draws attention. The question is who will profit from it? We must learn to take the lowest place even while we are displaying the greatest power. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 12:7 “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” In this context one person serves all with the manifestation of the Spirit that is on their life. Taking the lower position is using the power of God as a tool to serve others and not as a tool for self promotion. Promotion will come when we allow everyone else to “profit” from our gift.
James 4:6 says: “But He gives more grace. “Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” If the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us through grace then its easy to conclude; The greater the grace, the greater the gift. Therefore “greater gifts” occur when we step into a greater level of grace. 1 Peter 3:18 says “Grow in Grace…” The Greek word here can also be translated “increase”. We step into grace through salvation then it is our job to steward grace in such a way that we receive a continual increase over our lives. As grace increases our gifting’s will expand to new levels which opens the door to even more gifts. Paul’s invitation to unlock the “greater gifts” is made possible when we position ourselves to receive more grace by humbling ourselves with whatever level of grace we currently have remembering that gifts of grace only enable us to serve others. Humility is the key that unlocks the limitless supply of grace from the Father. When He sees that we have handled a gift of grace well then He is most willing to give “more grace”. Which is why Jesus said in Mark 9:35 “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” As you “eagerly desire greater gifts” let your desire be to operate the gifts of grace out of a true spirit of humility that “does not seek it’s own” but strives to serve others with the gifts you currently posses knowing that greater gifts are being cultivated.
We should not assume that because an individual manifests a gift of the Holy Spirit that they have mastered humility. We never judge by the gift, only by the fruit.