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New City Catechism 37.2

Question 37: How does the Holy Spirit help us?

Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.

Spiritual gifts are Spirit-empowered abilities given by God to every believer for the sake of building up the church. God has given to believers a rich diversity of gifts so that each member of the body can do his or her part to contribute to the life of the whole. In his longest teaching passage on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14), the apostle Paul makes clear that gifts must be pursued from the motivation of love for others. That is why two chapters about specific gifts (1 Corinthians 12 and 14) have a chapter about the supremacy of love right in the middle of them (1 Corinthians 13).

Another passage in which Paul addresses spiritual gifts is Romans 12:3-8. Here he lists seven gifts: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, contributing, leading, and acts of mercy. One of these gifts sounds more “supernatural” than the others, namely, prophecy. But the others all seem to cohere well with what we might call “natural” abilities. For example, some people have more natural ability to stand in front of an audience and speak than others, making them more naturally suited to teaching. Spiritual gifts need not be completely removed from what we might call “natural” abilities in order to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they are, but most of the time it appears that God works with our personalities to empower us to serve the church.

What does this mean for you? It means you should seek to lean in to the use of the particular gifts God has given you. Your service to the church will be most profitable if you seek to excel in the areas where you specifically are gifted. So pursue love for the church and seek to serve by the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Romans 12:3-8. What does Paul teach about the church in this passage? What does he teach about spiritual gifts? How can you apply this teaching to your life?

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