Tag Archives: Spiritual gift

Your Spiritual Gift

Look it up:  “Paper Towel Sniffer” is a paying job.  Somebody has to check paper towels are odor-free before they leave the factory.  You probably haven’t seen that job on a list of career choices.  Or “Dog Surfing Instructor.”  Lists of possible careers are not exhaustive; they can’t possibly include becoming a “Water Slide Tester.”  The same principle applies to lists in Scripture of “spiritual gifts.”  Perhaps you have been asked what your spiritual gift is and are confused.  Some say there are only 7 gifts listed in the Bible, so yours must be one of those 7.  Others count 12.  But when you understand what a spiritual gift really is, it is misguided to limit the possibilities by those few examples.

Here is the clearest definition of spiritual gifts:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV84))

As the Holy Spirit’s life in a believer grows, He brings about basic changes in their attitude and character.  Eventually, these changes are seen externally as “fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy, peace, patience, etc. (See “Recognizing the Holy Spirit in You”).  As this process continues, the Spirit manifests or reveals His invisible presence in a more tangible and practical way.  He “gifts” each believer with the ability to do something that will contribute to the common good of the community of believers.  For example, the Spirit might empower a person to preach.  Another person might discover a new aptitude for empathy and use it to counsel those who are hurting.  Someone else might come alive with a newly found passion for generosity.  I know a man who was gifted by the Spirit with a knack for knowing when a hinge needed oiling or a screw needed tightening.

It is important to understand these gifts are not simply natural talents.  The energy and ability involved in using these gifts is derived from the Spirit.  Sometimes the Spirit will manifest Himself in a way that enhances an existing natural talent – say, playing the piano – filling this talent with new power and purpose.  Other times, His manifestation will enable a person in a completely new way.  But the end result is not personally beneficial, but rather, building up the gathered body of believers.

Also notice, from the definition above, the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in “each one.”  That means every follower of Jesus eventually is empowered to bless the others.  Each gift is essential for the body of a church, no matter how insignificant it may seem to be, just as is true for a human body.  If your ankle itches in the night, you really need the giftedness of your toenail, eh?  There is no such thing as an unimportant spiritual gift.

If you have trusted Jesus, you have, or will receive, a spiritual gift.  What is it?  Look for an ability that seems to be powered up beyond your own personal resources, one that is consistent with the character and commands of God, and which contributes to the common good of your church.  See if it energizes you and blesses the rest of your church.  If so, likely it is your spiritual gift.

What’s Your Gift?

When the Bible talks about a “gift of the Spirit,” it might sound all spooky and hocus pocus to you.  You might wonder if it involves flipping into a trance and exhibiting weird behavior.  But, in reality, the Bible explains what a spiritual gift is in pretty down-to-earth language:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

To put that in other words, everyone who has the Spirit living in his or her soul (i.e. everyone who has trusted Jesus) will begin to show the evidence of that Spirit, as He begins to transform their mind, emotion and will (the soul) from the inside out.  Romans 12:2 calls this process being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The evidence of those changes are “the fruit of the Spirit.”

Each of us has been designed by God to show (manifest) the influence of the Holy Spirit in a particular way.  We do not all have the same “gift.”

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4-5)

Each of these unique “gifts” do have something in common, however: they serve the common good (of the body of believers).

Paul goes on, in verses 6 through 8, to  illustrate some of the possible ways this gifting will look, such as wisdom, strong faith, leadership, etc.  This is not an exhaustive list, just examples.  However the Spirit transforms what you do in a particularly effective and helpful way is your gift.  Those gifts call attention to Him, not you.  Paul says, when you find your gift, use it!

I know someone whose gift is to provide a calming influence in meetings in which several strong opinions have been expressed.  It is amazing to watch the Holy Spirit work through that man.   I know someone else with the gift of making brownies.   If you ever tasted those brownies you wouldn’t wonder if that was really a spiritual gift.

So, what’s yours?  When you open a Christmas gift, it is fun to experience the anticipation, the surprise and the joy that follows (assuming its not a tie…).  If you keep it simple, “unwrapping” your gift from the Spirit can be a lot like that.  Enjoy!