“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)
Often, we can read God’s word from a self-centered viewpoint rather than a Christ-centered one. This means we look to see how we fit into the picture before understanding how Christ is at the center of God’s word. This can easily lead to errors or distortions.
When reading St. Paul’s writing about spiritual gifts, if we put ourselves at the center of the picture, we begin to consider what wonderful gifts God may have given to us. We can easily start to consider the gifts God has given to other people. Then we fall onto the slippery slope of imagining which is more important or valuable for our work as followers of Jesus.
Paul starts from a different perspective, however. He reminds the Corinthians that they used to follow mute idols that were no help in any form. Against such old beliefs, Paul encourages them with the obvious truth that those who now believe in God, now filled with the Holy Spirit, will never say that Jesus is cursed. To emphasize his point, he switches it around so that no one can truly say “Jesus is Lord” unless they have the Holy Spirit.
This means that for all Christians, the first and foremost gift given is that of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit creates, sustains and guards the faith given to you. Every time you confess faith in Jesus, you are reassured that the Holy Spirit is at work in you.
Paul follows this giving of the Holy Spirit with several examples of gifts of service that could be lived out by individual Christians, each aimed at building up the whole church. The recurring theme is that there is one Spirit, one Lord, and the same God who empowers these gifts to faithful people. No matter what they might be, these gifts should be used for the common good.
God values us for who we are rather than what we might do. Some people might be given particular gifts for a particular service, but that says nothing about their standing before God. As you confess your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, trust that you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will guard your inheritance to eternal life.
Heavenly Father, I confess faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, so I may confess Jesus before my family, friends and neighbors. If it is your will, bless me with spiritual gifts to build relationships that nurture the faith journey of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.