1 Corinthians 12:8-11

As children, my sister and I played endless rounds of the matching game “Guess Who”? We’d each set up our tray, flip up all 24 faces, and set our character card at an angle to prevent cheating. Then, we’d parry each other with yes/no questions in an attempt to guess the other person’s character. “Is your character female?” “Yes!” Smack down all the men. “Is your character wearing something on their face?” “No!” Smack down all the women wearing glasses, earrings, and hats. “Is your character Susan?” “Yes. . . . Mama! She cheated!” (You knew that was coming.)

This passage about the different gifts makes me think about that board game. Imagine the key 24 people in your realm of work, church, city, neighborhood, and family. Now, whose superpower is wisdom? Knowledge? Faith? Healing? Who pulls off miracles? Anticipates consequences and needs? Discriminates between good options and real opportunities? Who’s great at outreach? Who excels at mediation?

My list of spiritual gifts diverges from Paul’s passage because I don’t really go around thinking of my good friend as a prophet, but I’m always thankful for the ways she sees two moves ahead without forgetting 10 moves back. I don’t think of the leader of a really tricky church committee as a person who is “distinguishing between spirits,” but his ability to truly listen to all the stakeholders and define a path forward is impressive. 

It doesn’t much matter what we call the gifts of the Spirit. The point is that we can guess who has them and can draw out those gifts in each other. And it certainly helps if we can spot a gift in others without feeling cheated ourselves.


Who needs to be nudged about living into their spiritual gift? Which gifts are missing from your realm, and who does that mean you’ve overlooked?


God, give us the right questions to ask of others and ourselves so that our gifts come together without friction for the common good. Amen.

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