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Seven Gifts

It's a BOMB!


Two ladies in Indonesia, Yanti and Ibu Ati, were attending a funeral. As they sat beside someone they didn’t know, that person expressed how long and tiring her day had been in dealing with a police incident. She had been interrogated because she had refused to accept a package from an unknown sender. The police suspected a bomb and were disposing of it.

Suddenly, Yanti sensed that the package, from a printing establishment, might be one they were waiting for which contained recently translated Bibles. Without waiting, she ran to the police station and told them what she suspected. The police didn’t believe her, but took her to a remote field where it was about to be detonated. She ran to it, opened it … and found the newly printed Word of God.


I thoroughly enjoy, and actually thrive on, the revolutionary explosive nature of God’s Word. It has been around for centuries and hasn’t changed a bit, but it can still erupt with devastating results. My greatest appreciation of its potential is when it devastates the accepted norms of those who don’t test it, or ask “why?”. My course of studies this year has been like that.

Can you remember those seven spiritual gifts that Paul refers to in Romans 12?* In the “Understanding How Others Misunderstand You” courses that I teach, I develop that passage extensively. It provides foundational wisdom for interpreting personality styles, leadership types, birth order, gender, culture and environments that mold you into the unique person you are. (Every board and committee needs to include each of the seven gifts for balance. Most of the conflict in organizations and relationships comes from a lack of understanding of the battlefields and birthrights of each of these seven gifts.)

But I’ve always wondered why Paul listed those gifts in the order that he did. His list appears to be quite random. I’ve preferred organizing them so that six of the gifts pair up neatly, leaving one single as glue to hold them all together.** But Paul didn’t list them in that neat order. I’ve never found his randomness in those three verses to be bothersome because the information he provides has included all the data necessary for priming the lessons that I teach.

BUT …the research I’m doing has exploded me into a whole new frame of reference. The order in which Paul listed those gifts is significant. (In comparing all of his epistles, I wonder if he even realized the significance of how he listed them.)

I’ve stumbled onto some issues that weave the ‘inspiration’ of God’s Word in a stronger tie than the usual misquoted verse in 2 Timothy 3:16. (All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,) The accepted interpretation, and the mass misapplication, of that passage by Bible teachers, causes me a lot of discomfort! My current research stemmed from that discomfort. Interesting how stimulation in one subject opens up discoveries in many others.

In these studies, I was led right back to Genesis chapter 1. That provides the record of the order of events that God did during the six days of creation. The order of the seven gifts that Paul listed runs exactly parallel to those creation events. Paul’s list also runs parallel to the items of furniture in the Tabernacle; and the compound names of Jehovah in the Old Testament; the Armour listed in the letter to the Ephesians; and the sequence of statements that Jesus said on the cross. Even Revelation ties in with the letters to the selected churches. And so do the comforts listed in Psalm 23. This is an intriguing thread (chain!) of Divine inspiration. Each of these passages (plus a bunch more) provide additional data for understanding your individuality in contributing to the Body. Want to have others understand you better?

Are you the one who has been praying for me to ‘understand how to better understand’? Thanks for doing that. You can now include prayers that opportunities to teach this ‘conflict resolution’ material will continue and that more invites will be forthcoming. Let me know if you have a group that could benefit from “Understanding How Others Misunderstand You”.

Delighting in the Bomb … john

* Paul’s order: “prophet, server, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler, mercy”

**Paired: “prophet / mercy; teacher / exhorter; ruler / server; giver”


(original e-newsletter post –  May 15, 2013)


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