Jared, His Brother, and Spiritual Gifts
This is the first in a series by our writers and guests regarding spiritual gifts. We hope you enjoy our take on giving and receiving spiritually this Christmas season.
At Christmastime our thoughts turn to gifts. As children, we think about what we may receive; as parents we think about what we can give to our children; and as children of our Father in Heaven, hopefully we think about what gifts He has given us.
Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States helps us to prime the gratitude pump as we count our blessings. But the real gifts of our Father are not limited to the physical things of this world: they are also the spiritual gifts that help us to find our way home to Him.
The Apostle Paul, Moroni, and the Lord Himself (through the prophet Joseph) catalog these gifts in 1 Corinthians, Moroni 10, and Doctrine and Covenants 46. Each of the lists is slightly different, but most of us can list at least some of them: knowing, believing, healing, tongues, administration, wisdom, prophecy, discernment, and charity.
When I review the catalog, I am regularly caught up by the early verses in each of the chapters:
For all have not every gift given unto them, for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God (D&C 46:11).
And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them (Moroni 10:8).
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
Different people. Different gifts. Different operations. All the gifts are there for the blessing of all.
We are encouraged to seek the gifts of the Spirit, and to identify them when they are at work in our lives: to bless ourselves and others with our gifts, and to be blessed by others with theirs.
There have been times in my life when I thought I needed all the gifts. In my quest for spiritual self-reliance (and there is no such thing; I am forever reliant first on the Savior, but also, according to these chapters, on my fellow saints) I have sought to identify each gift at work in my life. And I’ve wondered in my hubris at others who did not do likewise.
This week I read about Jared and his brother again. This time it occurred to me that Jared got what I had missed earlier in my life. In the first chapter of Ether, we read,
And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.
I’ve always wondered why Jared didn’t just ask the Lord himself. He was, apparently, the older brother, since it is his genealogy that Ether records. I’ve often assumed that Jared was somehow less than his brother.
And yet it is Jared who is making specific requests of the Lord through his brother: first not to confound their family’s language, then their friends’ language, and finally that if they be driven out of the land He will tell them, and he concludes, “And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.”
Jared, it seems to me in this latest reading, understood something of his own spiritual gifts in relation to his brother’s. Jared was not unfaithful; indeed I believe it was his faithfulness that led him to seek his brother’s help in petitioning the Lord. He was willing to submit to whatever the Lord would have them do, but he also wanted his petition delivered in the best way possible.
Sometimes it is appropriate for us to acknowledge that our gift is to believe those who know rather than knowing ourselves. Sometimes it is appropriate to seek out one who can give a blessing of physical or emotional or spiritual healing. Sometimes it is appropriate to learn from another’s gift of wisdom which has likely been gained by a combination of divine revelation and experience.
I look at the catalog of spiritual gifts differently than I once did. In a set of scriptures from my mission, I actually highlighted certain gifts, identifying them as mine. In a later set, I wrote the question, “Which gifts are mine?” I now carry the question, “Which gifts are in evidence in my life now?” I am no longer convinced that these gifts are granted once and mine to hold forever. Instead, in my experience, they are granted by a loving Father in Heaven in a time of need. Some come directly to me at times, and some come through others when I need them most.
- How do you see the influence of spiritual gifts in your life?
Image credits: JD Hancock, lds.org