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The Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding

29 May 2020, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines
Come Holy Spirit

As kids, memorizing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and the Fear of God) was part of the catechetical instructions we received in preparation for the sacrament of confirmation. The mere memorizing of these gifts hindered then the true perception of the gift of understanding in particular. But it’s crystal clear today that the Spirit’s gift of understanding is not about intellectual prowess nor mere enlightenment; it is having access to what St. Paul calls what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived (1 Corinthians 2:9).

No one knows the mind of God except His spirit, and by His gift of understanding, we access the hidden treasures of God. We speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8). The gift of understanding is the vehicle that takes us not only into this hidden treasure but helps us discern it. The Holy Spirit is bigger than any form He takes to manifest Himself (Dove, wind, tongues of fire, human form), but His manifestation fills and leads to a new dimension in the spirit realm.

The bible is that treasure, and only the Holy Spirit through His gift of understanding leads beyond the mechanical reading of the word to access the power of the word; He leads us beyond a book to access power.  

Understanding is an amazing gift of the Holy Spirit that illumines the eyes of our minds to see beyond what the ordinary eye could see and what flesh and blood could comprehend. It breaks the power of pains to reveal the joy in it, it leads beyond the letter of the written word to hear the voice of God, and it takes us beyond the flesh of Jesus to see the Christ. John the Baptist had the experience, he was led beyond the bounds of flesh and blood to see the Messiahship of Jesus.  Twice he said he did not know Jesus; lies, you may say. How could John say such? He certainly knew Him, but obvious only as his cousin. Not until the heavens opened and released the Spirit with His gift of understanding, John saw Jesus as a relation or an anointed prophet from birth. But the coming of the Holy Spirit became a confirmation for John, and John confessed; I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’  John 1:31-34.

As the illuminating presence and power of the Holy Spirit revealed the true identity of Jesus to John, so also through the Spirit’s gift of understanding, we are led into discerning the mysteries of God.

The Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding is vital to our fruitful daily living, when life seems to be confusing, doors seems to be closed and the schemer beginning to manipulate the situation for his devilish purposes, the Spirit’s gift of understanding becomes the key we need, we seek understanding to discern the situation. Each day meets with challenges, with situations that threatens our faith. But as we celebrate Pentecost, let our confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit be renewed and be opened to His transforming power.

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