The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Carol

First Corinthians 12 offers Paul’s wisdom on spiritual gifts. The frequently quoted passage declares that "There are a varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit." Then, in verse 7 the apostle writes, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

In the book, Rediscovering our Spiritual Gifts, the author Charles Bryant emphasizes this verse. Our spiritual gifts are not learned skills nor innate characteristics. They are not our day job nor our weekend activities. Spiritual gifts are the way the Holy Spirit works through us. It is God’s presence in our lives, showing forth in particular ways – that is, "manifestation of the Spirit."  This manifestation may certainly be related to our natural abilities or the activities to which we gravitate, but these gifts originate in God, not in us. Because they originate in God, they are empowering and life-giving. Because they originate in God, they are for God's glory, not ours. For this reason, the gifts are for the common good.

I recently told someone that I thought her cheerfulness was a spiritual gift. I named it as such because in her cheerfulness, I saw God’s presence. And I saw the impact of her gift on those around her.

Where do you see God's presence in your own life or in the lives of those near you? Can you name the gifts? The manifestations of the Spirit for the common good?

With gratitude for God’s presence among us,


photo of a wrapped gift Note: If you would like to explore the topic of spiritual gifts, please sign up for the Winter Retreat. More details are online.