Introduction to Spiritual Gifts
by Jeff Carver
It has been said, “He who buries his talent is making a grave mistake.”
How true this statement is for so many Christians. God has given each believer a spiritual gift that He wants us to use for His glory, but we often don’t use it. We may deny that we actually have a spiritual gift or if we do acknowledge it, we may doubt its usefulness to glorify God, and then just bury it. But we must realize that God wants us to be involved with His work. He is so gracious that by His Holy Spirit He freely distributes gifts to all who are saved. He not only wants us to know our spiritual gifts, but He expects us to grow in them each day.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:7 “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Also in 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Then in verse 11 it states “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” So it is clear that each Christian has a spiritual gift. You may ask, So what are they for? How do I use my gift (or gifts)? Does God really want to use me?
Let us first look at the question: Why do we have spiritual gifts at all? This will help us to determine the importance of the gifts. To answer this let’s take a look at Scripture. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Here He is sharing with us a primary purpose of the gifts of the Spirit: to give the church power in order to preach Christ to the entire world. Paul says another purpose of the gifts is to equip the church for “building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). He also reminds us in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that, “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” Therefore our goal should be to establish, build, and uplift the church with our gifts.
Still this doesn’t quite answer the big question of why. Why build up the church? For this answer lets again see what the Word says. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” We exist to glorify God. We were created by, through and for Jesus Christ. To testify of His love, grace, and power. God wants to reconcile with us through His son Jesus, and not only with us, but all of His chosen people! That is why we, by His Spirit, are called to be a part of His work on earth. In John 15:8 Jesus says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” By bearing much fruit, we glorify God, and we can do this by abiding in Him and using our gifts to serve Him and bring others to Christ.
You are a special part of the body of Christ. If you are a Christian and are not serving in some way, the church as a whole suffers. It’s like missing a part of the body. You may be able to live a normal life with just 9 out of 10 fingers, but you wouldn’t be able to do certain things as well as you would like. The truth is, the body of Christ has missing parts. They are attached but are missing in action. The church is called the “body of Christ” for a reason. We are connected by our faith in Jesus Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
Being members of the body, we need to work together. In 1 Corinthians 12:12 it says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” And in verse 14, “For the body is not one member, but many.” Each of us is a specific body part. It sounds strange but it is a great analogy of the church. In verse 27 Paul says, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” If you read verses 13-27 you will see that Paul affirms the importance of each member. He also declares that we need each member to function properly as a whole body. He says, in verse 26, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
You glorify God by getting involved.
God wants to use you! He has chosen you for the purpose of doing great things for Him. In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God already has plans for you. He wants you to listen to His calling and make yourself available to serve. Not only that, He expects you to use the gifts He has given you.
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the parable of the talents. It is a parable about stewardship of the grace that God has given to all believers. In the story, a talent equaled about 75 pounds of coinage and would be the equivalent of 15 years of normal wages for one person. This was an enormous responsibility for each of the servants to bear. The master was leaving on a journey and to one of his servants he gave 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and to another 1 talent according to their ability. What happened when the master came back to settle accounts was this: The first two servants had put the money to use and were able to double their amounts and present the master with his principal and profits. But the servant with one talent hid his master’s money and was afraid to use it. His talent was taken from him and given to the one who had ten talents. This parable shows us that Christ wants us to use the gifts He has provided to us, not to bury them.
Spiritual gifts are also called “grace gifts” and should be valued as gifts of God’s grace toward us. We are called to “bear much fruit” that lasts, and our spiritual gifts play a significant role in doing that.
So what’s next?
The first step is to pray. Pray for God’s guidance and ask Him to use you for His will. Ask Him to open your eyes and ears to His call on your life. He will undoubtedly put some direction or calling upon your heart. There are many existing places and ministries to serve in, or He may tell you to start a whole new one! Whatever God calls you to do, be confident that He will provide a way for it.
Discover your gifts. You may already know what your spiritual gifts are. But, if you don’t, or just want to clarify what they are, we have both adult and youth spiritual gifts tests to help you find out. These tests do not guarantee what gifts you have, but they are helpful tools for you to get an idea of how you are gifted. We encourage you to take the test, and then talk to other Christians in your church or community to assist you in discovering your gifts. Try serving in different ministries to see what fits and how you can glorify God in your gifts. God may have given you gifts that you didn’t think you could ever have. Or He may transform some of your known talents into spiritual gifts. He will provide gifts for you to accomplish every goal He has for your life. Our spiritual gifts are to be developed as we mature. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Don’t be afraid of what He will do with you. Step out in faith and let Him use you. The rewards will be great.
Find a church. If you are not attending a church, find one that is Spirit-filled, teaches the Bible and glorifies Christ. Also, if you are not sure what specific ministry you are led to serve in, but you know what gifts you have, make sure that there is a place for you to serve there. God will use your service to strengthen your gifts and will work out the details in His time.
Be faithful, bold and humble. Faithfully serve in the small things and allow God to work in and through your life at His pace. Boldly use your spiritual gifts whenever needed, and humbly seek after His kingdom and righteousness.
Be a good steward of your gifts. God says if you are faithful with few things He will make you a steward over many things. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Use your spiritual gift or gifts at every opportunity to show the love, grace and power of God to others. This will produce fruit that remains and will glorify Him.
Most of all, love. Use your gifts in love for the glory of God and the building up of His church. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Put on love in every situation and every time you serve, may God be the focus.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!