There seems to be lots of different information about spiritual gifts in the Christian world, so it can be confusing, especially if some of the ideas conflict. We’ll explore spiritual gifts and their purposes in this article. But before we get started, I highly recommend that you read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
Spiritual Gifts Come From God
The Spirit of God gives “special abilities” to us (1 Corinthians 12:1). Just like salvation and grace, we do not earn this gift. It’s just that – a gift.
We must be careful to remember that these special abilities are not for our manipulation or benefit; spiritual gifts are from God and for God’s purposes. We cannot take credit for anything the Spirit of God does through us while operating in our gift.
Different Gifts, Same Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 makes it clear that the same Spirit operates differently in us all, just as we have different talents. Therefore, we should not judge how God is working in someone else nor should we compare ourselves with others. The Holy Spirit works in us to serve God and others with our gifts, and the Body of Christ (the church) benefits from us operating in diverse ways.
Spiritual Gifts are for Helping Others
The purpose of God giving us spiritual gifts is clear: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
We are not given spiritual gifts so we can feel good about ourselves; we are not given spiritual gifts so we can look good to others; we are not given spiritual gifts to manipulate or get our own way. God gives us spiritual gifts so we can help each other! It’s that simple. And it’s genius on God’s part.
None of us are good at everything (which helps us maintain a more balanced view of ourselves). We need each other’s strengths when we are weak, and others need our strengths when they are weak. This creates a healthy dependency on and appreciation for our fellow brothers and sisters. It’s truly a beautiful thing when we use our spiritual gifts to help and encourage others; in fact, God planned it that way.
A Closer Look at Each Gift
There are many ways to categorize the 9 gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12, but we will divide them up for the sake of understanding like this:
The revelation gifts include Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, and Discerning of Spirits. These gifts reveal what is unknown or hidden in order to bring understanding or explain God’s intentions or desires.
Word of Wisdom: Individuals with this gift have the ability to make wise decisions and to advise others similarly. This wisdom isn’t just from trial and error in their own lives but through supernatural understanding from God. They see clearly through confusing circumstances and direct themselves and others toward God’s will and direction, closely adhering to the Word of God, of course.
Word of Knowledge: People with this gift have a deep understanding of the will and ways of God, personally and through scripture. Supernaturally, they can discern truths about spiritual matters in order to teach or direct the church. Sometimes God gives a word of knowledge about a particular situation or person in order to protect, warn, or guide.
Discerning of Spirits: This gift is also referred to “distinguishing between spirits.” People with this gift have the ability to discern whether a situation, person, or event is good or evil, right or wrong, heavenly or demonic. This gift is important because it can help protect God’s people and lead them in the right direction.
The power gifts include Faith, Gifts of Healings, and Working of Miracles. These gifts visibly demonstrate God’s power.
Faith: This gift is different than faith unto salvation (which all believers enjoy). The gift of faith involves the supernatural ability to believe and trust God in extenuating circumstances for extraordinary results. This gift of faith often brings about incredible miracles and is closely related to the other Power Gifts.
Gifts of Healings: God works through a person with this gift to heal and restore people’s bodies, minds, and emotions. This person has a level of faith to believe God for healing in any situation and is willing to try even non-conventional methods if God leads.
Working of Miracles: A person with this gift can be used by God to do any type of creative miracle from using physical strength to move a car to regenerating a body part to affecting the weather. There is no limit to what God can do, and the person with this spiritual gift has the faith to believe God for anything.
The speaking gifts include Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophecy. God uses these gifts to audibly communicate with us.
Speaking in Tongues: Speaking in tongues is a gift that is a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). A person with this gift will supernaturally speak in an unknown language and get the attention of everyone nearby. If this gift is used in a corporate setting, the message in tongues must be interpreted.
Interpretation of Tongues: A person with the gift of interpreting tongues has a supernatural ability to understand and explain to others the message given in tongues. The result is that God is glorified and the church is edified.
Prophecy: Believers with the gift of prophecy don’t necessarily tell the future as much as they build up, encourage, and redirect the church body. They help the church understand the heart and desires of God and urge the church to wholeheartedly pursue God and holiness.
This was a very brief and general description of the 9 Spiritual Gifts discussed in 1 Corinthians 12; if you’re interested in learning what your Spiritual Gift is, there are online assessments that can help you discover it.
~ Jennell Houts