Spiritual Gifts, Energy and A Gift of Mercy
How do you know that you have a spiritual gift? There is no better way to unpack this than simply to tell you that it gives you energy while you are operating in that gift.
Let me illustrate this with something that happened some years ago.
While serving a congregation, the board chair, a very fine, kind man, became quite ill. His wife was afflicted with chronic illness, and he had spent his days loving her with gentle care. His daughter had moved to a city about a two-hour drive away, to go to school.
Then the man became ill himself. He was dying of cancer.
Well, all the elders in the church knew him well, and though he rarely spoke of his wife’s illness we all knew that not many would be out to see him. So, we all took turns to give care to him in his last days.
I was assigned two one hour shifts during day, and that was because the elders were mostly working people and couldn’t get there in regular working hours.
So, I started my first one hour shift.
And the fellow was quite ill.
It required not only doing what I know how to do—to pray with a family in a time of trial—but to turn him, prop him up when he was uncomfortable, wipe his brow, monitor his bed pan, and give physical care—and to call for the nurse if there were any unusual developments.
It was right outside of my ordinary toolbox. When my first hour was done, I was done too! Had to go for a drive with the windows down, to feel the air brushing across my face. I stopped the car at a parkette, just to be still, and collect myself.
I had practiced mercy—but I sure didn’t have the gift.
There was a middle-aged lady who followed me—and had signed up for a four-hour shift. When she signed up for that, I asked her whether she could manage it—and as it turned out, none of the elders could show up until her time was done, followed by my second shift.
Four hours later, I walked in—and that lady was shining—absolutely shining with compassion, care, and love. As I walked in, she was wiping the blood away from a slow nosebleed, the fellow’s body was emitting a slight odor, and she was propping him up in the hospital bed.
And she was shining—filled with energy and joy as she gave gracious care to someone who had nothing to give in return.
She had a gift of mercy.
I had a practice of mercy.
Do you see the difference? I practiced mercy, as it was the right thing to do. Every Christian needs to develop a heart that does just that. And when I was done, all energy had drained away from every part of me, though I was contented that I had obeyed the Lord.
She had a gift of mercy, and as she walked in that gift, energy entered into her deepest being; she got stronger and more joyful while she was doing that work, and she continued in that gift as long as she needed, by God's endowed and supernatural empowerment--not hers.
When God gives a gift, it does not depend on our own natural resources. Rather God’s resources are poured into you, and grace lifts you to a higher level. You find refreshing in doing the things that God sends your way to do.
You will find this in virtually every example of those who receive those gifts in the Bible. When Peter and John healed a lame man. The lame man received energy to rise and started “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).
Later, when the authorities were disturbed by this healing and by the preaching of Peter and John, they arrested them. The two apostles were put in custody and held overnight in prison. Now being arrested and thrown in the slammer is not usually a source of energy to carry out the work of God. When the two men were brought before the elders of the city to offer an explanation, the biblical text is clear that as soon as it was time to speak about Jesus, before an antagonistic crowd, and, after spending a night in prison, something wonderful happened to Peter:
He was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and proclaimed that Jesus had healed the man, and that God had raised Jesus, (whom they had killed) from the dead. You can read between the lines in the account yourself—Peter was filled with divinely endowed “energy” while he tells his captors that “Jesus is the Healer of this man—and was raised after you unjustly killed him!”
That kind of speech, in which you tell some killers that they committed an atrocity, well, that doesn’t usually produce an overflow of power!
Yet it did. Power, from the Holy Spirit, as he was gifted to speak a bold word while being persecuted.
Read the differing accounts—any time the Spirit of the Lord filled people, they were brimmed over with power, love, joy, conviction, faith, grace, forgiveness.
Spiritual gifts give “energy.”
You know you are operating in the Lord’s gifts when this happens as you are serving the Lord. You will be lifted, when you should be lowered, raised up, when you have been knocked down.
Spiritual gifts “empower.”
In fact the Resurrected Lord Jesus said as much to the first disciples when he told them what would happen to them in the days to come:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you Acts 1:8
© David Chotka 2021