God gives each of us different gifts so we have something to contribute to the whole. They show God’s value of us and His generosity. Much of the teaching on gifts is focused on serving others, and how to view the gifts. We are not all the same. Sadly in enthusiasm over what God has given many question why others do not have their gifts. There are a wide variety of gifts, no list is of gifts is complete.
Overview of Gifts
When receiving a gift, who it comes from, and what it is for are important for thinking about how we might use that gift. Look at 1 Peter 4:10-11:
1 Peter 4:10-11 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
- Who is the source of all gifts?
- With what attitude should our gifts be used?
- How do we depend on God, or act as though God were working through us?
Source of Gifts
There can be a subtle pressure to say one gift is more important than another, that certain gifts indicate greater spirituality. Paul counters this view by looking at the Spirit, the source of our gifts.. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7:
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
- Who is the source of all spiritual gifts?
- How can a focus on the gift giver change our perspective on our gifting?
- How should we respond to God’s outworking of gifts in other believers?
Use of Gifts
Paul makes a comparison of the different members of Christ’s Church with the different parts of a body. Each has a part to play. Look at Romans 12:3-8:
Romans 12:3-8 3 Because of the privilege and authority* God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.*4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
- What is the difference between a gift, a reward and a payment?
- Then what does a gift say of the godliness, maturity or faith of the recipient?
- How do we exercise faith in view of our measure of faith?
- How are gifts to be seen in the context of the community of God’s people?
With what attitude are we to receive and use God’s gifts?
The Corinthian church emphasised a set of gifts that are clearly miraculous. Some gifts such as the gift of administration are seen through a greater ability than most people have. Others such as healing can only come through the Spirit of God. These gifts which have become prevalent in some churches in our day are known as the ‘charismatic gifts’ Paul writes of them in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:
1 Corinthians 12:8-11 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice*; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.*9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages,* while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
- What gifts are identified here?
- Scan the texts above – how do you see these gifts fitting in with the wider range?
- What differences are there between the gifts here and gifts which mark someone out as better in a particular field – such as teaching, or art?
- Who decides who gets which gift?
It is worth noting that immediately following this passage, Paul puts the whole teaching on gifts into the context of what God values most – Love.
Gifts to Build
Gifts are given not just for ourselves but in order that all Christians, the whole body of Christ, can be built up. We see this in Ephesians 4:10-13
Ephesians 4:10-13 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
- What is Jesus’ overarching purpose?
- How do the gifts given by Christ through His Spirit contribute to the purpose?
- What are the characteristics of maturity?
Immature people make poor decisions. Just as there is physical immaturity, so also there is spiritual immaturity Paul continues from the text above with Ephesians 4:14-16.
Ephesians 4:14-16 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
- What are the characteristics of someone who is spiritually immature?
- How do truth and love figure in growth?
- With what attitude are we to receive and use God’s gifts?
- What is the end result of maturity that Jesus is looking for?
- How does each part, you included contribute to the whole?
What is my gift?
The Bible does not answer this question specifically. Here are some suggestions that have been found useful. The gifts outlined above are far from being a complete list. There are ways of working out what gifts you might have. The easy one is with the Charismatic gifts which need no special interpretation. With other, more subtle gifts, one could listen to what others tell you about yourself. If you set out to serve others in a wide variety of situations, your gifts will come out as what you are good at. Another way is to pray and ask God to let you know what gift(s) He has given. Then listen to what He has to say. It may take some time for your gifting to become apparent.