What are they?
Spiritual gifts are supernatural capacities or abilities or ennoblements given to each believer.
1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit ……
No Christian is excluded, we don’t deserve these gifts, we can’t earn them.
How do you get them?
1 Corinthians 12:7 …is given…
1 Corinthians 12:11 All these (the gifts referred to in the prior verses) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.
You receive them from God. In His infinite wisdom He has distributed the gifts throughout His church.
What are spiritual gifts for?
1 Corinthians 12:7 …for the profit / benefit of all.
Gifts are given to build up the church. It would be dishonoring to God to refuse to use what He has given us.
“Spiritual gifts are that without which the church cannot subsist in the world, nor can believers be useful unto one another and the rest of mankind unto the glory of Christ as they ought to be. They are the powers of the world to come, those effectual operations of the power of Christ whereby His kingdom is erected and is preserved,”
Romans 12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
Every person who comes to Christ is expected to have some area of service to the body of Christ. “If we say we’re committed followers of Christ but are not serving, did we really come to Christ? Let’s not deceive ourselves; genuine Christ-followers serve.”
Romans 12:3 but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
“The measure for everyone is different. This is not talking about saving faith because saving faith is the same for all. It is the kind of faith that it takes to operate your gift, the spiritual capacity to make your spiritual gift operational.”
Let our slogan be: NO GIFT LEFT UNUSED! NO GIFT LEFT UNUSED! They are given by God for His glory to build His church. USE IT! Don’t let it fall into disuse. Don’t belittle or neglect what God has given you.
2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.
To help them launch the church the apostles were given special signs to authenticate their ministries. Since there was no New Testament when their ministry began, these signs were needed so that people would know the apostles were speaking for God. But the apostolic period passed and their signs with them. So let’s focus on…
1 Peter 4:10,11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves (acts), as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Peter is dividing gifts into two general categories: action and speaking. Let’s use that distinction as we move forward.
Romans 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
The Action Gifts
Serving: The word literally means to wait on tables but evolved into any kind of help to others. Martha certainly loved her gift of serving. The ways to express this gift are as limitless as the needs they seek to meet.
Administration or leading or ruling: This involves getting a group of believers to work together as a team towards a common goal. Nehemiah illustrates this as he sees the need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, assigns workers to each section of the wall, motivates, encourages, and the job gets done. As a team they accomplish what no single person could possibly have done by himself.
Giving: Literally that means to super-give, providing physical things to others (including money but certainly not limited to it). We might try to ignore this gift saying we are poor, but the Bible does not restrict this gift to rich people.
2 Corinthians 8:1,2 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
An example of poor people demonstrating great generosity in giving.
Mercy: Ministering to more challenging people – the miserable, the downtrodden, the addicts, the imprisoned, the depressed. Job’s friends showed mercy to him when they sat with him for seven days and nights and kept their mouths shut. Their presence certainly told Job he wasn’t alone in his nightmare. Unfortunately, after that they opened their mouths and were merciless at times towards him.
The Speaking gifts
Preaching: The word means to speak publicly before people “applying God’s Word to the present situation”. The emphasis is on “edification, exhortation and consolation”, “letting God have His say in society”. This gift is not limited to clergy. Peter launches the church age in Acts 2 through his powerful preaching.
Teaching: The emphasis here is on more formal, systematic training in understanding Biblical truth. Teachers have the ability to analyze, systematize and instruct. You know Paul was doing this during his lengthy teaching ministry in Ephesus.
Encouragement: Exhorting people to respond obediently to truth, to act consistently with God’s will. Strengthening, advising, comfort included. Barnabas certainly exercised this gift towards Paul upon his conversion.
Comment #1 Spiritual gifts should not be confused with natural abilities. Some people were born excellent singers, deep thinkers, etc. God is to be thanked for such abilities, but they are not spiritual gifts.
Comment #2 Read the lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament, and you’ll see the lists vary:
Clearly we are not talking about an absolute, rigid, inflexible number of gifts.
Comment #3 You might be a blend of several gifts.
Comment #4 Spiritual gifts are given to help us make the church stronger. God didn’t give us gifts for us to use at home in our closet. Think about that: if you miss church, someone at church missed being blessed by your use of your gift and the church is just a bit weaker than it could be!
“The church is not to be like a bus, where passengers let someone else do the driving but like an anthill, where everybody is at work.”
Comment #5 Read 1 Corinthians 12. Right after the discussion of gifts Paul shifts to talking about the interdependence of body parts. Why? Because just as you and I need every single part of our bodies, so the church needs every single believer exercising his gifts, doing his part in the body. No believer is nonessential. Each must do his part.
Comment #6 If a believer has grown lazy or indifferent in the exercise of his spiritual gift, let him reread the first eleven chapters of Romans as a reminder of what He has done for us. Out of gratitude for that the only response that makes sense is to renew our commitment to serve Him in the way He has designed – the use of our spiritual gift.
Comment #7 No person has every gift. Therefore, we need each other – badly. Be careful not to look down on someone whose gift might seem less important than yours. It is not.
……. we must keep in mind just because we are not gifted in some particular area does not mean we don’t have to perform in that area anyway. Not everyone has the gift of giving, but all believers are expected to give. Not all of us have the gift of teaching, but every parent must teach his children. Not all of us have the gift of mercy, but when wounded people cross our path we can’t ignore them. Not all of us have the gift of service, but every believer serves – probably multiple times daily. It’s just that each of us will perform better, we will shine, in the area of our giftedness.
Comment # 8 Gifts vary.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
There is great unity in our standing before God, great diversity in how we serve Him. Some gifts are more noticeable than others. Everyone hears the preacher while the server might go unnoticed. Both are needed.
Comment #9 If a person is not willing to do anything at church, he’ll never learn his gift, and the church will be the loser.
Comment #10 How do you determine what your gift is?
- Pray about it with the absolute confidence God is going to answer that prayer. Be assured He didn’t give you a spiritual gift but make it impossible or exceedingly difficult to discern it.
- Realize that Romans 12:1,2 come before Romans 12:3-8. What’s the point? Only as I do verses 1,2 do I become useful to God who will then show me how to serve Him in :3-8.
If we are not willing to yield our lives totally to the Lord, we are stalled in learning and developing our gifts.
Another way to say this is as you read these verses on spiritual gifts, you see “Holy Spirit” mentioned repeatedly. You can’t separate genuine spiritual gifts from the Spirit. Therefore, we’ve got to be in step with the Spirit (confessing all known sin and depending on the Spirit) to discern our gift, use our gift.
If we are not exercising our spiritual gifts, probably we have never yielded our lives to the Lord.
Sometimes we choose to ignore the fact that effective ministry is an overflow of a solid relationship with God. We overlook that to our peril and the detriment of other believers.
Psalm 37:4 fits in nicely here.
Delight yourself in the Lord
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
If we are delighting ourselves in the Lord by confessing and reading and obeying and putting God first in our lives, then it is more than likely that the desires we have in our hearts are from Him. Have a desire to serve? Give? Teach? Isn’t it likely He put those desires there?
- Volunteer to do different things at church. Some things will be poor fits. Some things will fit great. Some things might need several attempts to see if it is you.
- What feedback do you get from others? If everyone tells you that teaching kids is not your gift, they probably are right – and rendering you a service by their comments.
- What are you asked to do at church? What affirmation do you get from others?
There is nothing complicated or mysterious in discerning your gift. Since the Lord gave you your gift and really wants you to use it to strengthen His church, you’ll find Him highly cooperative in your search and development effort.
Comment #11 Just because you have a particular spiritual gift does not mean you will use that gift effortlessly. A teacher needs to prepare thoroughly. An administrator needs to plan carefully. An encourager needs to memorize verses on particular topics so he can encourage more effectively. A server needs to plan how best to serve and with what. A giver needs to figure out how and what to give. No one uses his gift effortlessly.
Comment #12 Over time as you use your gift you will become better at it. As you read your Bible, pray, talk with similarly gifted believers, analyze your performance you will see how to use your gift more effectively.
Comment #13 One of the most powerful ways in which you can help younger believers is to give them sincere affirmation when you see them begin to exercise their spiritual gifts in the body. “Thank you for teaching that today. It was really clear!” “Your encouragement to our family lifted our spirits”. Etc. That will help confirm their own giftedness in their minds and motivate them to develop their gifts.
Comment #14 Make suggestions (speaking the truth in love) how others can improve the gifts they already know they have. Examples: friends encouraged me to talk slower, to read certain books, to take a course to improve my skills – all helpful, all needed. I have benefited enormously from the constructive feedback of mature believers.
Comment #15 Back to Romans again.
Romans 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
This can be summarized in a few words: use your gift with excellence. To use your gift carelessly impoverishes the church.
Give it your best! Throw yourself into it!