I have been “in pentecost” as they say, for almost thirty years. In that time I have seen some amazing things. I have seen backs straightened and legs lengthened. I have seen people prayed over and healed from cancer the very next day. I have been present when words of wisdom and knowledge were spoken in a service and caused healing of hearts and relationships broken for years. I know people who have met and been ministered to by angels and far more besides.
I have also seen the gifts of the Holy Spirit abused to lift up men and their ministries rather than Jesus. I have been present when people used the gift of prophecy to fight personal battles in the church rather than encourage the body towards unity. I have watched helplessly as the root of bitterness has blocked the gift of healing and has been mislabeled a lack of faith.
The abuse of the gifts over the last several decades has led many pastors to “throw the baby out with the bath water.” Some doctrinally sound pentecostal churches have become practically non-pentecostal in their experience.
Misuse of the supernatural gifts comes when a person has the wrong attitude towards life. The context of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is love. Anytime we do not use the gifts out of a loving mindset we are bound to abuse them.
Sometimes I think we read I Corinthians 12:1-11 as though it stands by itself untouched by any other Scripture. But these verses sit plunk in between I Corinthians 11 and I Corinthians 12: 12-13:13. Go read them. They are all about love and respect for one another in the church.
Paul wasn’t having an ADD moment when he switched from talking about respect for the body of Christ to talking about spiritual gifts and then back to talking about the body of Christ and love again. He was letting us know that the only way the gifts operate correctly and effectively is in the way of love.
When we see misuses of the gifts we are seeing people who are using the gifts out of anger, resentment, selfish ambition, or even fear. Can I tell you the gifts can manifest in such cases and be completely right and yet still be completely wrong.
I have heard people give words of knowledge or prophecies which were completely accurate but because they were given in anger or out of a place of selfishness they fell completely flat and brought no glory to God. It would have been better for the person to have never spoken at all!
This calls for great wisdom. The answer for misuse of the gifts is not to ban their use but to correct the context of their use. Where people are using the gifts out of a heart of love toward their brothers and sisters, as well as the world, the gifts are trained and made effective to supernatural results.
Let us learn the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts! A-men
Please send me your thoughts on the way of love.