Christians depend on the Holy Spirit to guide them through life on this earth. Christians live in communion with one another, that is as members of a church. God has given each of us one, or more, spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Spiritual gifts are given through the Holy Spirit. They are to be used within the church for the good of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Spiritual gifts are God’s way of directing his grace through us to others. To have the body of Christ (church) function properly, “all” members must exercise their spiritual gifts.
Charles Stanley divided spiritual gifts into two categories: Motivational Gifts and Sign Gifts.22 Motivational gifts are the primary way Christians contribute to the body of Christ. Some motivational gifts enable the recipient to do the work of ministry in the church. Examples of motivational-ministry gifts are prophecy, evangelism, and pastor/teacher. Certainly, Paul was an evangelist in the first century church. Timothy evolved into a strong pastor/teacher in the church. Other motivational gifts are more service-related. These service gifts include administration, giving, mercy, and leadership. Barnabas was able to give money from the sale of land to ease the burdens of poor Christians in the early church. Both sets of motivational gifts – ministry and service – contribute to the welfare of the church. They are from the Holy Spirit to building up the Church, the body of Christ.
In addition to Motivational gifts, the Holy Spirit gives “Sign” gifts to certain members of the body of believers.22 Sign gifts validate the authenticity of God’s message along with the messenger. Looking for signs from God’s messenger is a right thing to do. In Matthew Jesus told the crowds to be on the lookout for false prophets and that false prophets would be recognized by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). Sign gifts include miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Individuals who claim to have these gifts can be expected to demonstrate them for the good of the body of Christ, specifically, their local church congregation.
Some people wonder, “How do I find out which spiritual gift I have?” To answer this question, individuals can ask themselves, “What do I enjoy most about serving the Lord?” Then, get involved in ministry situations that follow your joy. You will soon comprehend your spiritual gift, because you will stay motivated and experience joy in using this ability.
Is a person’s talent a spiritual gift? Sometime “Yes” and sometimes “No.” All people are given a spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit; but, not all people are given a talent. A talent can be looked upon as a spiritual gift “if” it is used for the good of the body of Christ. The easiest example of a talent/spiritual gift is individuals who sing exquisitely. These individuals can choose to use their talent to sing secular songs, or to sing religious songs that add to the beauty of the church service.
Members of the body of believers can refuse to use or exercise spiritual gifts. This outcome is seen in a believer who fails to discern his/her gift, or refuse to use a Holy Spirit gift, to benefit the local church congregation or the world-wide body of believers. When a Christian doesn’t use his/her spiritual gifts, four possible outcomes occur:
· The person robs the church, the body of Christ
· The person forces other individuals to carry their load. Possibly, these other members aren’t as gifted in a designated area and this work of the church is diminished.
· The person becomes dead weight on the body of believers. Their part of the body is dysfunctional.
· The person is or becomes out of touch with the Holy Spirit.
: No one person is a spiritual island. Our personal spiritual growth and the growth of the body of believers in our individual church and the church universal, hinges on individual members willingness to work together. Each needs to use the gift(s) the Holy Spirit imputed to him/her.
*Written by Bruce G. Roth, St. John Lutheran Church, Roanoke, VA.