The ability to see things as they truly are in an open-minded manner. Wisdom is like a special pair of glasses; it’s the gifts we need to see reality properly. Wisdom is the opposite of narrow-mindedness. Without wisdom, we tend to see only from our own perspective, from our own point of view. Wisdom gives us the distance we need to see situations and problems as they really are, to see how things look from God’s point of view. Wisdom helps us to straighten out our priorities, to put first things first, to know what is important and what is not. Wisdom helps us not get upset over little problems, not to put too much stock in passing events. We need the gift of wisdom to remember that people are more important than things and that God’s love is more than everything else. We usually associate the gift of wisdom with old people because living a long life tends to give a person a broader perspective, but young people can be wise. When young persons have wisdom, people say they are “wise beyond their years.”
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A heart that accepts, cares, listens, understands and forgives. I think of understanding as the kind of knowing that we do with our hearts. All of us know some people who are understanding, and many people who seem not to be understanding at all. A person who is understanding, accepts others just as they are and cares for the people no one else notices. We turn to the understanding person when our hearts are heavy, knowing that he or she will listen if we want to talk or be silent if we don’t know what to say. Those who understand us know our faults and imperfections as well as our strengths and good qualities. Such people are always ready to encourage and challenge us, and always ready to forgive us and give us a second chance. I think it’s safe to say, that all of us want to be more understanding than we are. And most of us have to admit that we need a big increase in the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.
The ability to comprehend the truths of the universe. Knowledge is a gift we seldom attribute to the Spirit. But the ability to think and to know is, after all, one of God’s greatest gifts to humans. It is the gift we need to make sense out of this complicated world, which we live. As human beings, we have vast abilities to know and understand the endless complexities of our universe. The ability to know is a gift from God; the development of this gift is our own responsibility. Developing the gift of knowledge is what education is all about. It is important to remember, also, that human knowledge can be used for bad ends as well as good. It takes a lot of knowledge to plan a successful robbery or murder, to break into a complex computer system, to design destructive weapons. That same mental power could be used to find a way to feed a hungry family or to negotiate a lasting peace. We need the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge to help to know and to help us to use well our personal and collective stores of human knowledge.
The ability to make good and wise decisions. Our greatest gift as human beings is the gift of freedom, the gift to decide for ourselves what we will make of our lives. God took a big risk creating free creatures because we can use our freedom either to build up life or destroy it. The Spirit’s gift of right judgment helps us to use our freedom wisely. We need the gift of right judgment when we are faced with everyday choices as well as with important decisions. This gift helps us to see a situation clearly, to look at all the options open to us, to analyze the possible ramifications of each option, and then to make a clear and decisive choice. The Spirit often works through others in giving us this gift, so an important part of right judgment is seeking advice from people who have more expertise or experience than we do. Right judgment also helps us to learn from our mistakes and to correct the problems cause by our bad decisions.
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The strength to do what is right in spite of challenges. Courage is the gift the Spirit gives to help us follow through on our good decisions once we have made them. Courage is the strength to do the right thing in spite of the obstacles and difficulties that make it hard to do so. In today’s world we need a great deal of spiritual courage if we are to stand up for our moral values and convictions. This is true for everyone, but it seems especially true for teenagers. Dis-courage-ment is one of the biggest obstacles to moral and spiritual growth. We all tend to get discouraged, especially when it comes to changing our own habits. We’ve tried to study harder, tried to stop drinking, tried to give up smoking, tried to be kind to picked-on freshmen, but those things are hard and we’ve failed often. It’s easy to lose heart, to get discouraged and give up. The gift of courage gives us the strength and stamina we need to keep on trying, day after day, to be the kind of Christian people we want to be.
A deep respect for God and others and all of creation. Reverence is respect with a capital R. The Holy Spirit’s gift of reverence helps us to see the true value of every person and of all created things. Reverence shows itself in gentleness, tenderness, protectiveness, and concern. The gift is badly needed in our materialistic throw away society. We need reverence for life, reverence for nature, reverence for the unborn and the elderly, reverence for truth and reverence for God. A person without reverence smashes through the world, thoughtlessly stepping on flowers and people. A person gifted with reverence holds the world with loving hands, like a parent cradling a newborn child.
Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence
A sense of the greatness and majesty of God coupled with a deep realization of God’s nearness. Wonder and awe in God’s presence is the gift by which we are given a sense of who God really is, and who we are as creatures of God. The gift helps us to realize how far above us God is, great and powerful and awesome, and yet how near God is to us, gentle and loving and forgiving. The gift of wonder and awe reminds me that God designed the majestic mountains, commands an army of angels and holds the pounding oceans in cupped hands. It also tells me that this same God lives in my heart, listens to my daily prayers, cares about my tiny worries and loves me in all my specialness and in all my weakness. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to get to know this wonderful and awesome God. We need a daily increase of the gift of wonder and awe in God’s presence.