Spiritual gifts—that intriguing, perplexing topic that we’re too interested in to ignore… and too nervous about to dive into fully. Is anybody with me there?
Some spiritual gifts are confusing—which is why I’m not getting into tongues and healing in this post. But they’re also interesting… and yesterday, I ended up reading 1 Corinthians 14 in my Bible time and studying Romans 12 at Bible study… so, since I’ve had this post on the back burner for a while, I decided today was the day.
But… before I continue, let me just tell you to be sure to read to the end, because I have a surprise for you. But you have to read to the end!
What is a spiritual gift?
First things first: let’s start with a good definition. A spiritual gift is like a “talent” that has a specific purpose, and is given by—guess who?—the Holy Spirit. Specifically, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. (That’s a pretty loose definition, but it will work for our purposes.)
I mentioned that spiritual gifts have a specific purpose. That purpose is laid out pretty clearly in 1 Corinthians 14. There are actually three purposes.
1) To Glorify God
Because that is always a reason for everything! When 1 Corinthians 10:31 says to glorify God in all that you do, whether eating or drinking or anything else, that includes using your spiritual gift.
2) To Edify the Church
“So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). What is Paul saying here? Essentially, “Sure, be zealous for spiritual gifts. But make sure that you are edifying the church.” When gifts are used improperly, they do not edify. The example Paul uses is that of tongues without an interpretation. If others can’t understand, they are not edified or built up. This is pretty much the theme of the entire chapter, so to get the emphasis you really have to read it for yourself. But this is clearly one of the huge goals of spiritual gifts.
3) To Promote Order
Technically, this is less of a goal of spiritual gifts and more of a guideline of how to use a spiritual gift. There must be order. Paul mentions this over and over when he’s talking about these gifts, and then wraps it up with these verses:
“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Cor. 14:29-30).
What is my spiritual gift?
So those are the three goals of spiritual gifts: to glorify God, edify the church, and promote order in the church. But what about that nagging question… “What gift do I have?”
Well… I just happen to have 3 things that are helpful in figuring that out. It’s not a “method” or a fail-proof formula or anything, but it just might be helpful anyway. Ask yourself these three questions and see what you discover.
1) Where does Satan attack you?
Spiritual warfare—we’re all familiar with that, right? It’s when the enemy doesn’t like what you’re doing, or the direction you’re going, and he attacks. Notice: the enemy doesn’t seem to attack those who are going in the wrong direction. Why? Because he already has them in his pocket. But you, serving God by the power of the Holy Spirit living in you? It’s like putting a giant target on your spiritual life.
For example: My spiritual gift is something associated with words. I don’t know the exact terminology, but that’s always been pretty obvious to me. A while ago, I realized that this blog (small as it is) is a “calling” for me. And so… Satan attacks it. For months, and months, and months, there was a ton of spiritual warfare surrounding this little blog of mine. And then I realized: Spiritual warfare surrounding my gift is not a bad thing. Satan just likes to attack whatever glorifies God.
Take a look at spiritual warfare in your own life. Could it be that the enemy is attacking the things you are doing to the glory of God? If so, remember that this isn’t an indicator to stop, but to go full speed ahead! 🙂
2) Where does the church encourage you?
By “the church” I mean other believers. Where do they encourage you? This one’s simple: other people may be able to see your gifts better than you can. For example, for years, every time I wrote something and let someone else read it (which wasn’t that often, because I was insecure), they told me “Keep writing.” My writing was probably pretty awful, but they told me to keep at it. It was years until I saw my writing as not just some random talent or hobby, but an actual gift to be used to glorify God.
It’s the same with others. I can see my sister’s gifts pretty clearly: She is super compassionate, loves kids, and is one of the most generous people I know. But she doesn’t know all that. (Well, now she does.)
So, think about what others have encouraged you about. Your hospitality? Your teaching? Your generosity? Or, maybe consider asking someone where they think you’re gifted. If you’re stumped, chances are, they aren’t.
3) How do you overflow God’s love to others?
Last but not least, think about the way you express love. How do you love people? It’s kinda like your “love language”— just a little different. For example, some people I know love people by opening up their homes to them, over and over and over. Others do it by sending words of encouragement. Others do it by just randomly serving them. Take a look at how you love people… and you might have another clue to your spiritual gift.
All right, this is getting long. The long and short of it is this: Spiritual gifts are given to us by the Spirit in order to glorify God, edify the church, and promote order. We can get some clues about our spiritual gifts by looking at where Satan attacks us, where the church encourages us, and how we overflow God’s love to others. Pretty simple, right?
And let me just say: If you still don’t know what your gift is, don’t stress. The point is that you are glorifying God in whatever you do. As you abide in the Word and pray and obey and just let the Spirit lead you, you will exercise your spiritual gift (knowingly or not), and God will be glorified.
And here’s the surprise: my first printable! It might be hard to remember those three ways to figure out your spiritual gift, so I’ve made a lovely little printable for you to download or print or whatever. Here it is:
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have your spiritual gift all figured out, you can comment it… and if you don’t, you can leave a comment anyway. 🙂
Have a fantastic week and be sure to come back next Tuesday!