Spiritual Gifts for Dummies

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Knowing or discovering your spiritual gifts shouldn’t be a mystery. Why would God give you a gift and then withhold the identity? Yet, many books, programs, and seminars have been developed to help Christians discover and then implement their spiritual gifts.

When Paul addressed spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, he was dealing with a problem in the early church. Jealousy and controversy had arisen over a perceived hierarchy of spiritual gifts. They were approaching the gifts of the Spirit like superpowers. “Flying is superior to x-ray vision,” or “supernatural strength trumps mental telepathy.”

Interestingly, Paul follows his corrective instruction on spiritual gifts with his famous teaching on love in Chapter 13. Love is, after all, the driving force behind faithfulness to God and Christian service.

The Holy Spirit endows us with gifts to benefit the Lord’s work through and in the body of Christ. All gifts are important and complement one another.

If you are serving the Lord, you are already using your gift. There isn’t some unknown spiritual gift awaiting your discovery. Spiritual gifts come naturally, and they become more effective as you grow in your walk with the Lord.

In a play or movie script, each character has a specific role. Each is integral to the story. So it is with God’s church. We are assigned roles in the divine design. Paul uses the analogy of a human body and how each body part benefits the whole. Unfortunately, the body suffers when some parts fail to function as they should.

I once played baseball and saw myself as a first baseman. How did I gravitate toward that one position as opposed to another? When I played football, I wanted to be a quarterback, but was better suited to play guard or tackle. As a musician, I tried several instruments before becoming passionate about becoming a trombonist.

All of us have unique and individual influences, passions, desires, talents, and aptitudes that push us toward one thing or another. You might say we are born with those tendencies.

When a person experiences the new birth, he or she is then blessed with new tendencies. That’s not to say the old talents and abilities no longer have value. God wants you to hold onto all that is good and decent. But He also gifts you spiritually to fulfill your role in the body of Christ, which is His church.

So how do you identify your gift? I’ll answer that with a question. To what ministry do you feel compelled to get involved? The Holy Spirit not only endows you with a spiritual gift(s), but also leads you into specific areas of service.

Spiritual gifts have multiple applications. For example, let’s examine the gift of encouragement. You can encourage and inspire through many areas of ministry. Sing in the choir. Visit shut-ins. Greet new visitors to the church. Carry a meal to a family who has recently lost a loved one. Write a note of encouragement to a hurting friend. Visit a hospital patient. Share uplifting words with a friend or co-worker who’s going through a tough time. All of that and so much more results from your God-given gift of encouragement.

Here are some helpful scriptures on spiritual gifts:

Spiritual gifts are not given for our glory, but the glory of God. They don’t make us more special than another or elevate our importance in the eyes of God. They are given out of God’s perfect wisdom and knowledge, according to His purpose. You are His instrument. Your role is to allow Him to use you as He sees fit.

Your gift(s) are available and accessible. Ask God what He wants you to do. The Holy Spirit will lead you toward fulfilling your role in God’s ministry. The only thing that will prevent you from learning and using your gift is inactivity. And if you have no leaning toward some role in ministry, then you should resort to the faith test, to see whether you are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

All Christians have been given spiritual gifts. “… to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7) And all Christians are to use their gifts. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September)

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