The True Charisma

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

One of the words which has come into wide use (actually misuse) in our generation is the word “charisma,” along with its derivative “charismatic.” We speak of a politician as having charisma, or a charismatic personality, for example. Another common use of “charismatic” refers to those who practice speaking in tongues. But these are not the true meanings of these words, at least not in terms of their original usage.

This latter usage, in particular, comes from the inclusion of tongues as one of the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1, 28). The Greek word is charisma. It does not mean “tongues,” and neither does it mean an outgoing and articulate manner. It simply means “gift,” or better, “free gift,” a classic example being Romans 6:23: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Charisma, in turn, comes from charis, which means “grace,” and is usually so translated. For example, in the words of our text, if the “word of Christ dwell[s] in us richly,” we shall be “singing with grace in [our] hearts.” Furthermore, just a few verses further on, we are admonished to “let your speech be always with grace” (Colossians 4:6). Then Paul concludes the Colossian epistle with: “Grace be with you. Amen” (v. 18).

Thus, true grace in our hearts will produce grace in our speech, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will always be with us! This is the true charisma! A truly charismatic person is a gracious person—one to whom “God is able to make all grace abound” so that he or she, “always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). HMM

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