An Unlikely Bride
The Disney fairytale Cinderella is a story about an unlikely bride mistreated at the hands of her guardians but who eventually rises from the doldrums of her slave labour to become the star of the ball and the stunning wife of Prince Charming. The tale is a love story of redemption, beauty, justice and power, all punctuated by the sweet grace notes of gospel-joy.
More specifically, as the supernatural source of Cinderella’s salvation, The Fairy Godmother’s presence in the story is a poetic type of the gift-giving Spirit of Power in the life of the Christian. Cinderella herself typifies a specific gift of the Holy Spirit that we’re urged to long for – a gift that enables our tasting and seeing of the joy to be found only in God.
The First Kindling of Our Joy
A Gift-Giver though He is, first recall how Zechariah 4:6 reverberates from our Bible to remind us time and time again that regardless of how mature, beautiful, sanctified, intelligent, skilled or successful we think we are, the yoke of our spiritual slavery was only ever broken by the power of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell within us, (Eph.1:13; John 3:3). We were dead in our transgressions and sins but now we are alive to God in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:1;5).
Imagine Cinderella being released from her basement prison for the first time, hesitantly taking brand new steps into unknown territory, squinting and shielding her eyes in the dazzling new light of day. She isn’t thinking of golden carriages, decadent feasting or pretty gowns; she’s consumed only with the joy of being alive!
Therefore, our initial waking from the deep sleep of oblivion, from the depths of our depraved origin to the privileged height of our redeemed destiny in God-centred joy, is our very first experience of desiring and receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Eager Desire of Our Joy
But having been transferred into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col.1:13), the Spirit commands all believers to eagerly desire the gifts that He delights to give. In 1 Cor.14:1, Paul highlights the corporately-edifying gift of prophecy as the gift of which we should all be especially desirous. But prophecy is not the theme of this article and neither does the story of Cinderella represent only a type of self-obsessed, basement-emerging believer, replete in their personal justification of faith through grace alone.
Imagine Cinderella again but this time climbing the steps of a gargantuan mansion that lead to the ground floor above her old prison. As she emerges from the lowest basement level to a new carpeted one she’s never seen before, Cinderella arrives at the intersection of faith and mission – of personal salvation and world evangelism. Indeed, our brimming faith in Christ that saves is meant to overflow to produce an eager desire for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that empower.
In this sense, Cinderella actually typifies a specific gift of the Holy Spirit that’s often resigned to the less spectacular kitchen duties of our Christian banqueting – overlooked, undervalued and perhaps even forgotten.
Cinderella is the joyous Spirit-gift of discernment.
Especially the Gift of Diakrisis
The spiritual gift of discernment is also known as the gift of “discernment of spirits” or “distinguishing between spirits”. The Greek word for the gift of discernment is Diakrisis, describing the capacity of a believer to distinguish, discern, judge or appraise a person, statement, situation or environment. The New Testament also describes the gift in terms of distinguishing between spirits (1 Cor.12:10) and discerning between good and evil (Heb.5:14). Oh how we need mature believers to function fruitfully in this gift amidst the prevalent cocktail of false teaching today, (1 Corinthians 12:10, Acts 5:3-6; 16:16-18; 1 John 4:1).
In a day and age where the blurring of doctrine is breeding pandemonium in the Church, we should be eagerly desiring to excel in this gift. In a day and age where our struggle against the spiritual forces of wickedness has never been more fierce, we should be eagerly desiring to excel in this gift. In a day and age where Satan’s cloaked, native language of confusion is drip-fed throughout the nations, we should be eagerly desiring to excel in this gift.
But more than for only navigating between good and evil, The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to enable Christians to clearly recognise and receive the joy of the truth found only in Jesus. Discernment is the highway of The Holy Spirit that will powerfully lead to a life deeply satisfied and content in the joy of God.
Because of the tendency of us all to lean towards the spectacle and not the hidden, because of the Church’s bias towards sign and wonder and not the glorious Subject, it seems fitting to me to exercise some creative license and call this gracious gift of the Spirit the Cinderella gift. Discernment isn’t exactly the choice topic of every blog article or sermon or latest worship song but in His great grace and mercy it can be redeemed from the undervalued, undesired, basements of our personal and corporate lives to once again feature as the primary hall-mark in our following and our loving of Jesus.
Pray with me this advent that rather than desiring the breakthrough book contract, the breakthrough gig, the breakthrough romance or a higher rung on the fictitious Christian ladder, that you will instead eagerly desire the gift of His discernment; and that in receiving and exercising this phenomenal gift, witnessing your very own Baal Perazim of infectious joy, that you will be a signpost of the Kingdom of Heaven breaking out around you – a light piercing the darkness in the earth this Christmas time. (2 Sam.5:20).