Have you ever stopped to consider which spiritual gifting God has given you, or why these gifts matter?
Maybe you haven’t because you don’t consider yourself to be an “advanced” Christian. You might think these gifts are only reserved for people who seem to have life all figured out.
But you should never discount yourself this way. Whether you consider yourself a devout Christian or not, be careful not to underestimate God’s calling on your life. He created every person with a special assignment in mind, and spiritual gifts are a part of that.
Discovering which gifts God has uniquely placed in you is an exciting journey I believe everyone should pursue. To begin this search we must first ask: What are the spiritual gifts?
The Apostle Paul explained the nature of God’s spiritual gifts in great detail in several New Testament letters, but Romans 12 is a great place to start.
He writes in verses 6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
If after reading this list you feel at a loss, I’d point you to 1 Corinthians 12:27 where Paul again writes about spiritual gifts saying, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
There you have it! Every believer is meant to play a role and use their God-given gifts. Though Paul was writing to the first Christians who lived more than 2,000 years ago, the Spiritual gifts he describes are just as real, accessible and relevant today as they were then. So the question then becomes for each of us, “Where do I fit into all of this?”
I had to ask myself this question not long ago when I took a class on leadership through my church, C3 NYC. During one of our sessions, the group leader asked us to try to remember a time when we were hurt or rubbed the wrong way by an experience at church. Not your every-day prompt! Her next point amazed me.
She shared that oftentimes, as they relate to the church, the things that annoy or upset us should actually be treated as guideposts pointing us to our innate passions. In other words, we are bothered by the things we care about the most. She went on to explain that the passions often serve as signs of our spiritual gifts.
For example, a person who is frequently frustrated by a lack of substance in their church’s sermons could possess the spiritual gift of teaching. In another sense, a person who feels neglected by their church community could possess the spiritual gift of encouragement.
Though this is a counterintuitive method, we should keep in mind that many things about God’s kingdom are in fact counterintuitive due to the broken state of our sin-filled world.
Why can we gain insight into our spiritual gifts by considering areas of our spiritual walk where we feel either hurt or inadequate? Because the enemy often uses not just our weaknesses, but our strengths against us.
Jesus warned us, “the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy;” (John 10:10). The areas where God plans triumph for His Kingdom are the same areas in which the enemy will try to tear down--and we are a part of that equation. That is precisely why God gives us Spiritual gifts, to develop our individual spiritual journeys and to advance His Kingdom.
Ultimately, we have to pray about these things and ask God to reveal our spiritual gifts to us because, just like any other gift, they were not ours first. Most importantly, they are called “gifts” because they are not earned. As Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 3:7 “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
God is gracious and His love for us is beyond our comprehension. Every good thing comes from Him, and though we don’t deserve them, we receive them by faith alone.
Our spiritual gifts are a way for us to more richly experience God’s love and to empower us to contribute to His greater plans. Jesus said later in John 10:10 that He came to “give us life, and to give it to the fullest.”
That is why He not only saves us but gives us an opportunity to partner with Him and participate in His beautiful plans. No gift is greater than that!
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6).