If you look around your church community, you will find folks diligently working to bless and serve others using their spiritual gifts and God-given abilities.
Seek And Ye Shall Find
Have you ever wondered how these people seemed to know what they should do for God’s kingdom? This question used to consume me. After giving my life to Christ, I had no idea what I was supposed to do for God or even how to figure it out.
In an attempt to be helpful, my church leadership was quick to direct me to fill any vacant volunteer spot they could find. Individual spiritual gifts and how best to use them for the Kingdom was not brought up.
This approach was fine to help eliminate areas I was not gifted in. At the same time though, it caused me so much stress that I began to dread going to church because it revealed the areas I just wasn’t good at, certainly didn’t enjoy, but felt guilty walking away from. To add to my stress, I was running out of new volunteer areas to try. I’m pretty good at sucking it up and soldiering on and that is what I did while inside pleading with Jesus to fix whatever was broken in me that wouldn’t let me be good at or enjoy the various serving areas I had been trying.
Eventually, I discovered what God had to say about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians and Romans. Although I found the information interesting, somehow I decided God was referring to bestowing this type of blessing upon his 5-fold ministry (preachers, teachers, prophets, evangelists, apostle), not ordinary people like me. It wasn’t until years later (and after much frustration and discouragement) that I began to realize the gifts spoken of in those books was NOT just for certain Christians but all believers…including ME!
That revelation jump-started my study on this subject. I went back to those original chapters I had found and studied them (and a few others) with fresh eyes.
You Were Created For A Reason
In his infinite wisdom, God created you just as you needed to be to fulfill a unique purpose. Nobody can take your place in God’s plan and nobody has your exact gifts. As you submit to, spend time with, and grow in God, he is able to position you in certain places to use the spiritual gifts he has empowered you with to accomplish his purpose.
Where Can I Find Spiritual Gifts In The Bible?
In the Old Testament, we are given example after example of God’s people living their life and operating in their spiritual gifts. It was more of the same in the New Testament until the first church was put together in Acts. After that amazing night, we find more specific information regarding our spiritual gifts. Specifically, this information can be found in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:9-11.
What Are God-Given Abilities And Spiritual Gifts?
We all seem to understand and accept our God-given abilities. The world calls them natural abilities. “He’s a natural athlete” or “She has a way with numbers” or “He has a silver tongue and could sell ice to Eskimos”.
Spiritual gifts are much harder for folks to accept and surrender to. For whatever reason, folks seem to be okay professing, “He plays the guitar in a band” but “He has the gifts of teaching and wisdom” seem to make people squirm self-consciously.
God-given special abilities and spiritual gifts blend and intertwine like so many things of God. Read Exodus 31:3-5 for a perfect example. God had already blessed Bezalel with carpentry skills (God-given special ability). But when it was Gods time to build the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, all the furnishings for the meeting tent, and the priest’s clothing, Holy Spirit “filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft to devise artistic design, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting and in carving wood, in every kind of craft.” God even blessed Bezalel with an equally gifted helper!
The List Of Spiritual Gifts
There are various spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament. Some are mentioned in a few different places but I did not list them multiple times.
- Ministry (pastors)
- Exhorter (encourager)
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
- The word of wisdom
- The word of knowledge
- Gifts of healings
- Working of miracles
- Discerning of spirits
- Different kinds of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
1 Corinthians 12:28
As you can see, some are positions of ministry (teacher, pastor, evangelist, etc) and some are supporting gifts to equip you in your ministry (words of wisdom, discerning of spirits, showing mercy, etc).
Who Gets Spiritual Gifts?
Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that spiritual gifts are just for those operating in the 5-fold ministry. The Bible actually says that ALL BELIEVERS are given gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7). Not a single person is overlooked or forgotten.
Does Everyone Get ALL Of these Gifts?
No. Many of these gifts will overlap but just because God calls someone to be a prophet doesn’t mean he has also gifted them with the supernatural ability to operate in mercy. Think of Jonah. He was a prophet of God but he seemed to lack mercy for the very people God was calling him to speak truth to. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 shows us that we are not all blessed with every gift nor should we expect it.
As Paul puts it, “if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?”
Where Do Spiritual Gifts Come From?
God the Father pours power into his believer, Jesus picks their ministry, and the Holy Spirit gives the gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:4). Because Holy Spirit gives these gifts as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:11), you can’t hand pick, buy, or do anything to get a particular spiritual gift.
However, God gives good gifts to those who ask him in accordance with his will (Matthew 7:11). Just keep in mind that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). In the Old Testament, King Solomon was incredibly blessed. Imagine how many of these spiritual gifts he would have already had to enable him to lead God’s people. And yet, God chose to also bless him with wisdom at Solomons request.
Why Are We Given Spiritual Gifts?
These gifts are never for our own benefit or to bring glory, reward, or esteem to ourselves. They are for “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).
When Do We Get These Gifts?
We aren’t told specifically but it appears that some are given at birth, some when you give your life to Christ, and some any time Holy Spirit determines they are needed to fulfill a particular purpose.
In both 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6, Timothy is given a gift after an elder laid hands on him and prayed. But we don’t know if Timothy had already been blessed with that gift and it was simply time for it to manifest itself or if this was a completely new gift.
Are Spiritual Gifts The Same As The Fruit Of The Spirit?
No. Gifts of the Spirit are given for outward manifestation (service to others) while fruits of the spirit are about inner manifestation (your character and what you become).
Both types of gifts work together. You should be displaying your fruit of the Spirit while using your spiritual gifts. Likewise, you won’t get far in your service to others if you aren’t developing and allowing your fruit of the Spirit to grow.
Some final thoughts
Because our gifts are designed to bless others and build up the church (God’s people), Satan will always attack us in this area so that we become paralyzed with fear and timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). To combat this and function as a cohesive body of Christ, we need to know God intimately. This leads to trusting him to place us where we need to be when we need to be there. These are stepping stones of faith that enable us to supernaturally function in the gifts Holy Spirit has blessed us with.
Although we are to work together using our gifts, we each have our own job and purpose to fulfill using the gifts and abilities God has so generously given us. We don’t need to worry or fuss about obtaining a particular gift or if a particular person is using (or not using) their gifts like we think they should. We are to concern ourselves with what God has given us to do and obediently keep our eyes on him (John 21:22).
Imagine how much peace and joy we would have if we allowed ourselves to function as God created us to be! Imagine how many we could teach about Jesus Christ and lead to the throne if we each operated in our gifts to bless and build up the body of Christ!!
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