By: Staci Stallings
The Holy Spirit’s Presents to You
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And He will delight in the fear of the LORD.
–Isaiah 11: 2-3
Learning the Gifts
As a young student when I was first learning about God, I was very interested in the rules. I memorized lists of everything because my Sunday School teachers said I was supposed to, and above all, I wanted to do what I was supposed to, so I put a lot of effort into learning the lists. I don’t fault my teachers for this. For many of them, that’s how they approached God also. They were simply teaching what they knew.
And so I memorized the “lists”—the Ten Commandments, the Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit. When I say “memorize,” I mean literally looking at the list and memorizing each word individually. The point was not to understand the words or to put them into context or practice. The point was to know them and be able to repeat them on demand.
Unfortunately, my studying of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit went something like this:
“Knowledge, wisdom, piety… Um…” Rats! How many was that? Start over. “Wisdom, piety, fear of the Lord, understanding… Um… Did I say, knowledge? I don’t think so.” Rats! Start over.
On and on it would go.
I had no structure to fit the words into, no understanding of the plan they filled. They were merely seven words in some random order that I was supposed to know. It was like God had thought, “Yeah, these seven sound good. Let’s give them.”
Maybe you’re like that. Maybe the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are merely a “list” of words you were given to study and learn at one time. Maybe they are just random pieces to a puzzle that doesn’t really fit together in your mind. Maybe, like me, you forgot them the minute you finished memorizing them.
For this study, I would like to take you through how I have learned to understand the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (the other “lists” are for other studies), how they fit together and work together, and how they were meant to be practiced and used in your life, not just memorized and then forgotten when you went on to something else.
Not Just Random Words
First, let’s start by listing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Fear of the Lord
If you look at the list, you will notice there are seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. God often works in batches of seven. It is one of the “fulfillment” or “total” numbers in the Bible. (Others are 12 and 3.)
Next, I’d like you to take another look at that list and notice that this is the order that the words are presented in the following chapters. There’s a reason for that. I believe that the gifts are best understood in this order. It’s as if instead of random pieces, these gifts build upon each other more like a pyramid or a set of building blocks.
When you view these gifts as building something, you will be able to not only remember them, but you will gain access to the incredible power the Spirit meant for them to infuse into your life, and believe me, it’s way more powerful than some list you memorized once and then forgot.
Chapter One Discussion Questions
1) Were you ever taught the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? If so, what do you remember about how you learned them?
2) When you think about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which one stands out as a valuable gift in your life? Which one do you use a lot? Why?
3) Do any of the gifts throw panic or concern into you because you are not sure you could ever have that? How does the lack of that Gift make you feel?
4) If you could choose one Gift for God to strength in your life, which would it be and why?
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2010