There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding spiritual gifts, but the truth is, the Bible talks about the importance and function of spiritual gifts a lot. In fact, understanding spiritual gifts is something that the Apostle Paul encouraged: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
The main scriptures that discuss spiritual gifts are 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:1-8, and Ephesians 4:7-16, so I’d recommend reading these passages to get a deeper understanding. Let’s take a look at how properly operating in our spiritual gifts can enhance our churches and advance God’s Kingdom.
The Purposes of Spiritual Gifts
According to Ephesians 4:11-13, the job of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to equip the people to operate in their gifts and do the work of the ministry “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” God wants us all to function in our gifts with the goal of being unified while we do it. This brings about maturity and “the fullness of Christ.”
We use our gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ and build it up. Peter reminds believers, “as each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” Our gifts don’t belong to us, and they aren’t for our benefit; they belong to those in the Body for their benefit.
God receives glory as we function in the gifts He’s given us: 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”
Keep the Right Attitude
It’s no secret that we are all created in God’s image, but we are all uniquely different from each other as well. It’s easy to begin comparing ourselves with others or to look down on people who are different than us. However, Paul says in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” In short, we need to guard against an attitude of superiority and stay humble.
Paul paints a picture to help us understand how the members of the church should interact; he describes it as a body with many parts: “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:20-21).
Paul wants believers to be sure to appreciate and acknowledge others who have different gifts than they do. We cannot isolate ourselves; we need each other, and we need to value one another. Remember, each of us has something unique to contribute to the benefit of the Body.
Take Responsibility for Your Gift
It’s our responsibility to not only know our gifts but to use our gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We cannot let fear paralyze us – we must stir up and develop the gifts God has given us for His glory and for the benefit of His Body. Then we must step out and operate in our gifts.
God expects each of us to do our part. Ephesians 4:16b says, “by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” When we each participate by functioning in our unique gifts, the result is growth, for us and for the church.
As we can see, functioning in our gifts and talents is vital for church growth and unity. God receives glory when we operate in our gifts, and people in the church also benefit. Yet we must remember to keep the right attitudes about our gifts and celebrate the diversity in God’s Body too.
~ Jennell Houts