“CHARIS” is a word in the original Greek language of the New Testament. It is often translated as grace, kindness, favor, blessing, etc.
It means “unmerited favor.” It means “goodwill that is not deserved.”
CHARIS only applies with the recipient is undeserving. If it is deserved in any way, it is not CHARIS. If there is anything that you can do earn it, it is not CHARIS.
CHARIS is a very general and broad term. When it is used in a specific instance, the Greek word is “CHARISMA.” This is often translated “gift.”
This is unmerited favor (grace) that is made specific in a specific instance.
It is an undeserved gift. If there is any part of it that is deserved, then it is not a CHARISMA. If you try to deserve it, then you make yourself ineligible.
Now if you want to make this word plural, you add “TA” to the end and you end up with “CHARISMATA.”
CHARISMATA means “free, undeserved gifts.”
That brings us to our passage in 1 Corinthians where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 There are diversities of gifts (CHARISMATA), but the same Spirit.
5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
These nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit are gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to people that don’t deserve them. There is no requirement on anyone to receive them. If there are requirements, then they are not CHARISMATA. Another word would have to be used. If you have to attain a certain level of maturity or holiness in order to receive them, then they would be called rewards instead of gifts.
But the word that is used here is CHARISMATA…free gifts that are not deserved in any way.
To bring this point out more clearly, consider the context of the passage that was quoted above. It comes from a letter (1 Corinthians) that was written to a group of Christians in the city of Corinth. In this letter they are being corrected for things that would make many of today’s believers blush. Here are a few examples:
- They were getting drunk during communion (ch 11 v 21)
- They were suing each other (ch 6 v 7)
- One of them was sleeping with his father’s wife (stepmother), and the rest of the group thought this was something to be proud of (ch 5 v 1-2)
- Some of them evidently didn’t know any better than to call Jesus “cursed” (ch 12 v 3)
To sum it all up, read the following passage from chapter 3:
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
These people are not mature. Rather, they are immature. Paul calls them spiritual babies. They are not ready for meat, they still need milk. The are carnal and worldly, they are not demonstrating holy living.
However, when you read chapters 12-14, you can see that this doesn’t stop the Holy Spirit from operating His supernatural gifts through them in miracles, healings, prophecy, and so on. The gifts of the Spirit are operating mightily in this group of believers. Paul even makes this statement in chapter 1:
1 Corinthians 1:7 – Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
It seems to me that many Christians have a very different idea about this. People seem to think that to operate in the gifts of the Spirit, you have to fast and pray, and live holy, and so on. But if that were true, then they wouldn’t be called gifts (CHARISMATA).
Don’t get me wrong, sin is bad and can ruin your life. And immaturity is nothing to be proud of. However, sin and immaturity do not stop the Holy Spirit from using us in His supernatural gifts. By definition, CHARISMATA gifts are only given to people that don’t deserve them.
Think about it like this: What human could work hard enough to deserve the power of God? Who could earn the right to demonstrate the power of God? Nobody but Jesus. You don’t earn this. You can’t earn it. You have to just receive and use/exercise the gifts by faith, and be thankful to God that He gives a bunch of misfits the opportunity to participate in whatever He is doing.
Never let anyone tell you that you need to reach a certain level of behavior or maturity in your walk before you can move in the wonderful, powerful, and supernatural gifts (CHARISMATA) of the Holy Spirit. Don’t get tricked into disqualifying yourself. The gifts are free to all that will receive them and use them. They are given as the Holy Spirit wills (1 Corinthians 7:11), and they are given freely. If you don’t deserve them, then you are a prime candidate to receive them.