Have you ever received a gift that was so wonderful you wanted to share it? Maybe it was your favorite candy or dessert, so you shared it with whoever gave it to you. Maybe it was a gift card that you used to treat a friend. Maybe it was money that you were able to donate. As humans, we are naturally selfish and don’t always want to share. But when the Holy Spirit is working in us, we know we should give back the good gifts we were given, and once we experience the joy of giving, we want to.
James 1:17 tells us “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Every good gift is from God, and today I want to talk about a specific kind of gift: spiritual gifts.
The spiritual gifts are talked about by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Romans 12:4-8. There are fifteen of them mentioned in these passages, so I will briefly touch on each of them. Please realize there is much I have left unsaid and other passages that could have been referenced. There are also a few more spiritual gifts generally recognized by the church such as hospitality, celibacy, and missionary. I am only going to highlight the fifteen mentioned in these two passages. If you are interested in learning more and taking a spiritual gifts quiz, this one is great!
God gives people different talents and passions. We should be so grateful for these gifts that we want to give them back to God and pour them out for others. As Christians, all of us should exemplify all of these characteristics in some capacity, but God has gifted certain people to be especially good at certain ones. Work where God has put you and with what God has given you, but also continue to grow in your weaker areas so you can best serve God in multiple ways. Just because you are a teacher doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show mercy, and just because you have a servant’s heart doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to understand the scriptures. However, pay attention to the specific way God made you and the gifts He gave you. What are the best ways you can give back to Him?
Wisdom: God gives some people wisdom. There are some who can easily understand the scriptures and other theological writings from the past, and apply these truths to their lives or current situations. We are all supposed to study God’s word, but if God has gifted you with Wisdom, help others to grow in their understanding and application.
Knowledge: To others, He has given knowledge. Some Christians can eat up so much information and store so much in their heads! If this is you, immerse yourself in God’s word as much as you can and help others to grow from what you are learning. Knowledge itself is nothing unless it is applied to spiritually fill yourself and others.
Faith: Through the Holy Spirit we all have faith, but some people have a special trust in God that is greater than that of their fellow believers. This does not mean they are better or somehow more Christian. Paul tells us that some people really do have more faith! If you are someone who has stronger faith, encourage your brothers and sisters who are weaker in faith and show them all the ways God has shown Himself worthy of our trust and praise.
Healing: Have you ever had a problem that you talked to someone about and then almost immediately felt better? There are some people who have a healing affect on the soul. If you are a person who can bring spiritual healing to other Christians by talking to them, encourage others to talk to you, and respond to them with a caring and Christlike attitude.
Miracles: God worked through supernatural means in the Bible, and He continues to do so today! The spiritual gift of miracles is a lot more limited than some others like leadership and service. God does give this gift to some people, but usually only on select occasions. It is more often seen in Christians who are severely persecuted and missionaries evangelizing in non-Christian cultures.
Prophecy: There are many false prophets in the world, but there are some who God will supernaturally reveal Himself to. Prophecy is more than telling the future, it is speaking God’s words about the past, present, or future. Prophecy always deals with real reality, and it can be easily tested by comparing it to scripture and the world. People with this gift must be careful that they are only revealing what God has shown them in faith, and not adding their own words to God’s.
Discernment: Discernment between good and evil is always difficult, but some people can easily differentiate gray areas. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” Some people have been gifted to see God’s paths more clearly. If God gives you discernment, help others who are more confused by Satan’s schemes.
Tongues: We see the gift of tongues a few select times in the Bible and it is often misunderstood in America today. Speaking in tongues must always be a true language to share the gospel with others. It seems possible that this gift could also be used to refer to those who have a special aptitude for language learning. There are so many people of so many languages in the world who have never heard the gospel. How will it get to them? Often it takes much language work, but sometimes God will supernaturally speak his words before Christians can master (or know!) the needed language.
Interpretation of Tongues: This is very similar to the gift of tongues and again often misunderstood. Its primary purpose is to edify believers when in the presence of someone who has spoken in another language, so they can glorify God too!
Service: People with the gift of service are called to primarily serve those inside the church but also those outside. These people are eager supporters of the church’s mission, and are often behind the scenes making sure things function well. They are completely happy staying out of the spotlight and they enjoy doing things for others.
Teaching: What would we do without teachers of God’s word? “Teachers” includes pastors, elders, and evangelists, as well as leaders of women’s groups, children’s programs, and Bible studies. Teachers are able to clearly communicate God’s words to His people and help them grow in their faith and knowledge of God.
Exhortation: This is calling on people to follow God. This includes both affirmation and challenge. It could be lifting others up through thoughtful encouraging words, and also challenging Christians to grow in their faith. Every Christian needs to hear exhortations, but people with this gift should make sure to especially notice Christian leaders and Christians struggling in their faith.
Generosity: Are you a saver, spender, or giver? If you think you fit into the “giver” category, then generosity is probably one of your spiritual gifts. We are all called to give generously, but some Christians take special joy in this! If you take pleasure in generosity, trust God with your money and let Him use it, He will not let you be put to shame.
Leadership: Leadership is the ability to guide or direct a group. It can be in service, teaching, giving, or wisdom. Good leaders lead by both word and example. They don’t mind the responsibility of leadership because they get to experience its joys and fruit! If God has gifted you to be a leader be careful of “taking over,” but if nothing is being initiated, lead on!
Mercy: Mercy is similar to service, but it specifically addresses the vulnerable and more often includes those outside the church: whether it’s in soup kitchens, with the homeless, or helping addicts. The Bible says acts of mercy must be done “with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:8) There are so many hurting people in the world, if God has gifted you to help them, do so with all your heart.
What gifts has God given you? How can you give them back to God?
Special note and for further reading: This week I was honored to guest post on E.G. Bella’s blog about the Quality Time love language. Click here to read my post, and check out her posts Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Next week, I am going to share her post on the Fruit of the Spirit and abiding in Christ. Stay Tuned!