The questions Paul asked in these verses assume the answer, 'No'. So, is it true that through the Spirit's power we can do anything for the Lord? No! Only the things the Lord calls us to do – not anything we want to do or anything others think we should do. It is the Lord alone who determines which of His children shall be given particular abilities; and nobody is given every gift.
The only person who has every spiritual ability and power is God. Satan's third temptation in the Garden of Eden was to make the woman believe that if she disobeyed God, she could become like God (Genesis 3:4-5). The Evil One still tempts believers to use God's gifts to exalt themselves; it is a gross twisting of what God intended, and it is wrong.
On the other hand, the apostles were authorised by Christ to say what is true about His kingdom and how to please Him. They taught how to use spiritual gifts in obedience to God. In the next chapter (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) Paul explains how to use God's gifts in love instead of treating them as a means of personal power. He also explains that God's gifts are best used to build up other people; so the gift of building up other people by explaining God's Word is better than tongues which only builds up the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:18-19).
We need to learn that God has the power of command and the right to distribute gifts to whichever believer He chooses. Our abilities come from Him, and are not to boost our egos. We cannot do everything or know everything – the Lord will let us work for Him but will limit us to our assigned part in His plan. That should encourage us: we are only expected to use the little He has given to us – not to rule the world single-handed (Romans 12:3). So when you see spiritual pride in yourself, the Lord is already at work in helping you to humble yourself (James 4:7-10). If you have been using His gifts to boost your ego, stop: repent, give thanks for what He has already given and pledge to use it for His glory alone, with His help and with lots of love.
© Dr Paul Adams