Every believer has at least one gift, probably more, so how do you recognize the gifts of the Spirit in your life?
The Bible has much to say about spiritual gifts and their purpose. The Apostle Peter wrote, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet 4:10-11). That means “each has received a gift,” but it’s not for self-gratification or to be seen by others, but “to serve one another.” Regardless of where you read about spiritual gifts in the Bible, the underlying theme is that we should always use those gifts to minister to or edify others in the body of Christ. So how is it that we can recognize our spiritual gifts? How do we know if we have more than one?
Recognizing Spiritual Gifts
Gifts of the Spirit are not to be confused with the fruits of the Spirit, which are “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a), and even those are produced by abiding in the Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8). Without Him, we cannot bear any godly fruit at all (John 15:5), so just as we cannot produce godly fruit on our own, we can’t pray down the gifts of the Spirit into our lives. The Apostle Paul wrote that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Cor 12:18). It is His choice, not ours. And there’s no reason to covet someone else’s gift because “there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Cor 12:6), so obviously God “apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11b). This much we know; God gives spiritual gifts to everyone in the church, and God decides which gifts are given to believers. God wants you to know your spiritual gifts so that you can benefit others, as “each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7), but one way to find out what your spiritual gift is, would be to find a place to serve and see if your gift fits your service, whatever that is.
The Apostle Paul wrote that since we have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:6-8). Sometimes it’s obvious that someone has the gift of teaching, some are better at administration, some at discernment, some in giving, and others who show hospitality or mercy. I would ask people what they think I’m gifted in or ask them what they think I’m good at good at. We might have blind spots and not even know what we’ve been gifted in, so ask! If you feel holy pleasure in doing what you’re doing, and you’re good at it, you might have found your niche in the church. That is putting the gift of the Spirit to work for the good of the church.
Here is a summary of some of the spiritual gifts as listed in the Bible, although there may be more than these:
Discernment (1 Corinthians 12)
Evangelism, Exhortation & Pastor (Romans12; Ephesians 4)
Giving (Romans 12)
Helps & Service (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12)
Hospitality (1 Peter 4:9-10)
Leadership (Romans 12)
Mercy (Romans 12)
Teaching (Romans 12)
A Diversity of Gifts
Take a look at what you do best and use that talent to serve the Lord and everyone else. If you don’t use it, you might lose it, or at least the ability to use this gift, because one man rightly said, “Showing up is 90% of serving.” I’ve spent time taking written tests to determine my “spiritual gifts” and something I noticed is that no matter who developed the test or where I took the test, the results slightly differed. I did discover that the spiritual gifts that God gives are for us to grow and develop as a whole, so here are three questions you might want to ask yourself: What pleases God, what is the desire of my heart, and what is the most prominent or obvious spiritual gift(s) I’ve been given? Is it in administration; does it deal with discernment; does it include service and teaching? There really is no magic formula or definitive test that can tell us exactly what all of our spiritual gifts are. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). He will equip us with whatever gift or gifts we need to accomplish the task He has called us to.
Identifying our spiritual gifts can be accomplished in various ways. Spiritual gift tests or inventories, while not to be fully relied upon, can definitely help us understand where our gifting might be. Confirmation from others also gives light to our spiritual giftedness. Other people who see us serving the Lord can often identify a spiritual gift in use that we might take for granted or we might not even realize we have it. Prayer is essential. The one person who knows exactly how we are spiritually gifted is the Giftgiver Himself…the Holy Spirit, so we can ask God to show us how we’re gifted in order to help the church function.
If we use our gifts for the good of others, but ignore other areas to serve in, we’re missing the point. Having the gift of administration does not excuse us from helping others in the church. Having the gift of teaching doesn’t mean you can’t wash the dishes in the fellowship hall. Gifts are primarily for the church, while fruits are evidence of the church, so I hope you can find your spiritual gift(s) and use them for the church; building one another up in the faith. The gifts of the Spirit are needed now more than ever, but a gift is only good if you open it up, see what it is, and then use it!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.