To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – I Corinthians 12:7

In all my years of following Jesus, after going to Bible College, to Seminary, and all these years of Pastoral Ministry, I have heard many discussions about the “gifts” of the Spirit, but can’t say that I have EVER heard any teaching about the “manifestations” of the Spirit. What does that mean and how is that different from a spiritual “gift”? Well, let’s begin by checking the dictionary…

Man·i·fes·ta·tion: (noun) an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory of an abstract idea.

Ok, so a manifestation is something concrete (i.e. something you can touch, hear, see, etc.) that points to something less concrete. That would mean that a manifestation of the Spirit would be something tangible that points back to the Spirit who is intangible. I think that this is a super helpful word to help us think about what we have commonly called spiritual “gifts.” I have nothing against that word “gift,” in fact, I like gifts as much as the next guy, but I wonder if the word is a bit misleading in this context. When I receive a gift, I own the gift. It is mine and I can control it. But I can’t say that this is the way that I receive a Spiritual gift. I can’t own or control the Spirit’s influence in my life. That influence is much more like a manifestation. It is something that happens in the real world in or through me, but it isn’t mine. Instead, it is the Spirit’s work in me and when properly understood and cultivated, it can “clearly show or embody” Someone… namely the Spirit Himself.

So maybe, we need to stop thinking about which spiritual gift we have or don’t have. Instead, we ought to look for and be thankful for how the Spirit manifests Himself in our lives. Have you ever thought about how the Spirit has manifested Himself in your life before? Have you ever noticed an attribute that you can’t really claim credit for? Maybe it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or self-control. Maybe it is an act of encouragement to others, or wisdom, or hospitality, or servanthood? Whenever you see something beautiful and godly like this that didn’t originate in you, you might have just experienced a manifestation of the Spirit. I pray you will all the more.

Josh Rose
Discipleship Pastor

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