Sunday, December 13, 2009

Charity and Spiritual Gifts: How Do They Mesh?

Here are some verses which have puzzled me for quite a while.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
I get the part about charity being the greatest, but I always wondered what was meant by the statement that prophecies would fail, tongues would cease, and knowledge would vanish. What is this about knowing in part, prophesying in part, and then doing away that which is in part when perfection comes? It seems to be saying that other spiritual gifts are only part of something and that they will cease. It seems to say that spiritual gifts are the childish things and charity is becoming like an adult. It seems to say that spiritual gifts are like seeing through a glass darkly, but charity is seeing face to face. How is this the case?

After some wrestling, the idea that I finally came to was that every spiritual gift possessed by man is a piece of the ultimate spiritual gift of charity. Like maybe if you put together all the spiritual gifts in one person, the gifts run into each other until you can’t distinguish where one ends and another starts and the whole together is charity.

[W]hen that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away – If we think of charity as just another spiritual gift we might tend to think that if we don’t have it then it’s just not our particular gift. But if we think of all the other spiritual gifts as parts of charity, then we have greater motivation to acquire more spiritual gifts so that we can be a greater blessing to those around us, knowing that it will bring us closer to the perfection of charity. Certainly charity is the bond of perfectness and peace. The parts are done away in the whole.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face – When you think about it, it is true that we have a hard time seeing each other for who we really are. Spiritual gifts help us get a little better view of each other as precious children of God, but charity has to be the pinnacle of heavenly vision.

So if all the spiritual gifts together are charity, maybe that’s why it is said that the church is the body of Christ with all the members needed, each with their spiritual gifts. Maybe that’s why we are given the church organization so that we can all come to the perfect man and the stature of the fullness of Christ.

And what are the spiritual gifts except special ways of showing love and being of service?
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
The whole purpose of the gifts is to edify and benefit the church. Charity!
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.
17 And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.
18 To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.
19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;
20 And to others it is given to have faith to heal.
21 And again, to some is given the working of miracles;
22 And to others it is given to prophesy;
23 And to others the discerning of spirits.
24 And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;
25 And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.
26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (Doctrine & Covenants 46:11-26, emphasis added)
Do you see how all of these gifts can be used to benefit others? And if all have not every gift given to them, it means some gifts have to be worked for and prayed for. And we are encouraged to seek after spiritual gifts to help others and not to consume it on our lusts.
30 He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.
31 And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; (Doctrine & Covenants 46:30-31)

3 comments:

Scott said...

Michael,

I wanted to say thanks for your comment the other day on my blog (deadseriously.net)--some how your comment was caught in my spam filter, and I hadn't seen it until today.

Scott said...

Gah. Michaela.

Sorry.

Tony said...

Wow. Thanks! I had that question in my mind too.