I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us. . . . It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. - 1 Corinthians 12:1, 11
Most things slip away into the mists of history, remembered at most by only a few people—if any. Some special things endure, though. The works of Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, and William Shakespeare are greatly valued today, long after the men themselves have passed on. These men had special abilities that gave their work special value and secured for them a special place in the world of achievement.
One of the most remarkable realities of human history is the survival and growth of the Christian church. The church was founded by Jesus, who spent his life in a limited sphere of influence. It was entrusted to a small group of men who had initially failed miserably to further his cause. The church has subsequently spread to the four corners of the world, touching billions and transforming society wherever its influence has spread. From a human point of view, this is a remarkable achievement. There’s something special about the church.
But what is special about it may be a surprise to many people. It is not necessarily that the church is made up of remarkable people. On the contrary, Paul tells us that it is intentionally made up of few who are “wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy” (1 Cor. 1:26). The question that must then be asked is, “How could the church become so remarkable, so unique, so special when made up of people who are quite ordinary?”
The answer is found in Paul’s statement “about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us” (12:1). The church is special because she is comprised of ordinary people who have been granted “special abilities” by the Holy Spirit.
The effectiveness of the church is directly related to the church’s grasp of the significance of this special gifting by the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that the “special abilities” are given to “each of us.” The vast numbers of people who make up the worldwide church are impressive, but what is infinitely more impressive is the truth that these vast numbers of people have all been given special abilities by the Holy Spirit. That means there is a vast amount of special ability latent in the church.
These abilities vary in much the same way that the members of the human body differ from each other. It is the Holy Spirit “alone [who] decides which gift each person should have” (12:11).
Each man should be aware of his special abilities and be exercising them. And when a church full of people do this—it is special!