The apostles answers the question: Why are the spiritual gifts given? Nobody should take his gifts as a personal reward or something to be enjoyed in obscure selfishness. The Holy Spirit doesn’t serve egoism – never – even if it where cloaked in the most pious decorum. This reminds us of our Lord’s parable of the various servants, who receives different talents and where the one, who received only one talent buries it in unfaithful anxiety and loveless speculation and excuses. The one talent was taken from him and he was expelled into the darkness of the most dreadful abyss.
St. Paul also emphasizes that these spiritual gifts are for the “common good”. The Church is one body and each member has its special gift to serve the common good. It’s not for individual adoration or exultation! The Church is a community and sacred unity in which each one lives for the other in loving service and support. Every single one has the high and precious calling of service and loving care for the other and the whole. Whoever doesn’t do this, will experience these gifts as an unwholesome burden and unwanted load, will not flourish and prosper, but decay and destruction. In God’s kingdom and Church you don’t have individualists, who just serve themselves and seek their own good as you would in worldly business. No – in the Church everything serves the common good, the congregation, the holy fellowship, family, body, cooperation, partnership and union with God. Whoever serves himself only is more of a loafer and burden than anything else. Recognize this and take note!
Dear heavenly Father! We thank and praise you for all you good gifts you have endowed our bodies, minds and souls with from the bountiful goodness and kindness of your grace. We praise you that you spread your light all over the world and that you have called us too by your Holy Spirit to be witnesses of your unsurpassed goodness in this world of ours. Fill your Church with your Holy Spirit, that she remains faithful in your holy word and lives faithfully in accordance with it. Preserve respect, dignity, love for our neighbour among all people. Promote and prosper your kingdom in the big cities and rural lands. Bless all communities in your holy Church – especially the god fearing families and congregations. Preserve our congregation and Church and make them sanctuaries of your peace. Unite us with bonds of peace and caring, so that our burdens will be lighter, our joys purer and our suffering more endurable. We ask this in Jesus name, our Lord and saviour. Amen. (H. Greiner)
May God bestow on us His grace and favour To please Him with our behaviour And live as brethren here in love and union Nor repent this blessed Communion! O Lord, have mercy! Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us; Grant that heavenly minded He make us; Give Thy church, Lord, to see days of peace and unity; O Lord, have mercy! (Martin Luther 1483-1546 tr Lutheran Hymnal 1941)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Thursday after the tenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 289 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.