“Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant”, I Corinthians 12:1. In this verse and the verses following the Apostle Paul is telling us that as Christians we receive gifts from God. Paul is not referring to every day blessings, but special gifts given to the individual members of the Church family. He is referring to “Spiritual Gifts”.
Definition: A “Spiritual Gift” is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to the Christian to be used for the benefit of the Church.
The same problem often exists in receiving “Spiritual Gifts” that exists in receiving gifts from one another. This problem is that we may try to read something into the gift or make assumptions concerning them.
1. We may make a direct relationship between our gifts and our spirituality. In example, a person who has the gift of “hospitality” may not be seen as being as spiritual as a person who has the gift of “preaching”.
2. Here are some statements that have been made that make such assumptions:
a. The more important the “Spiritual Gift”, the more mature and spiritual the person.
b. The major evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is his or her ability to speak in tongues.
c. We must ask God for the “Spiritual Gift” we want.
d. Some Christians have little to contribute to others.
e. Some people are more important than others in the Church as in every situation.
When we think of the early Church we think of a strong, growing Church that is void of many problems. When we are plagued by problems in our own congregation, or unhappy about our personal spiritual growth, we wish we could be as the New Testament Church. We feel that the Church has lost it’s power and wonder how to recapture those earlier days of constant victory. But when we study this Chapter of I Corinthians we see clearly that the early Church was not utopia! One of the problems in the early Church in Corinth focused on this very problem, relating “Spiritual Gifts” to spirituality. Paul realized the Church at Corinth was suffering because they didn’t understand one of the “Spiritual Gifts” and were making false assumptions. Paul challenged their assumptions in verse 1 stating “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethern, I would not have you ignorant”. The same applies to the Church today. If we can understand more about “Spiritual Gifts”, many of the problems within the Church would be overcome.
As stated earlier, a “Spiritual Gift” is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to the Christian to be used for the benefit of the Church. It is a special ability that differs from a natural talent. While God uses our natural talents in ministry to others, “Spiritual Gifts” are supernatural abilities given by God. “Spiritual Gifts” exceed the limits of our own abilities to equip us for fruitful and effective ministry. Since they are gifts, they must be given. They are gifts of grace and therefore given without regard for the merit of the person receiving them. They cannot be learned, only developed and sharpened after receiving them. They are given to the Christian at the discretion of God. Non-believers do not have “Spiritual Gifts”. They may have great talents, but they are not genuine “Spiritual Gifts”. Every Christian has a “Spiritual Gift” and some Christians receive a combination of them. There are no ungifted believers, only Christians who have not discovered and developed their “Spiritual Gifts”.
Here is a list of some specific “Spiritual Gifts”. Depending upon interpretation of Scripture there are from 12 to 28 “Spiritual Gifts”.
Evangelism – Ephesians 4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”. This gift is a special ability to share the Gospel with unbelievers in such a way they come to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Preaching in an evangelistic method is only one type of evangelism. Evangelism is also life-style.
Shepherding – Ephesians 4:11. This gift is a special ability to minister the Word of God to individuals to bring positive spiritual growth to their lives. A good shepherd feeds his sheep or leads them to the place to feed. A good shepherd watches over his sheep. He protects them from their natural enemies. He keeps them from going astray and will go after them when they do go astray.
Teaching/Preaching – Ephesians 4:11. This gift is a special ability to communicate important facts and messages from God’s Word so that people are uplifted and challenged. This idea, like evangelizing and shepherding, is looked upon as a gift of the pastor only or someone who is more spiritual than most Christians. Again, this is a false assumption because a Sunday School teacher with this very special gift can communicate messages from God’s Word just as well as the pastor. This gift has specialization within it’s own specialty. Some may have the gift of teaching and challenging young people; others teen-agers; others married couples; others to the more mature (elderly); others to women; and others to men.
Administration – I Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special ability to understand the overall mission of the Church and to create plans and programs for accomplishing that mission. The first step in the administration of any mission is to understand the goals. There are many offices of administration: Sunday School Superintendent, Music Director, Youth Director, etc. It takes a special ability to create programs to supplement these separate ministries. As the Church grows, more ministries will be needed and each ministry needs an administrator that is creative and can develop exciting plans and programs.
Leadership - Romans 12:8, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special gift to motivate others to move in harmony toward the goals of the Church. Some may combine this gift with the gift of administration.
Music – Romans 15:9, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for [his] mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name”. This is a special gift to offer praise to the Lord in music and to lead others in the Body to similar praise. We see and are blessed in the Church with these gifts. This gift is not just the ability to sing or play some musical instrument, but to do so in a manner that offers praise to the Lord.
Mercy – Romans 12:8, ” Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” This is a special gift to feel genuine concern and compassion for troubled or neglected individuals and to translate that feeling into deeds that help alleviate their suffering. It is not hard to be compassionate and feel concerned for neglected and troubled people, but the specialty is to administer deeds that help alleviate their suffering. There is a great ministry here, for those who are grieving over loved ones, for the elderly in nursing homes, etc.
Hospitality – Hebrews 13:1,2, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This is a special gift to provide an open house and/or attitude of warm welcome to strangers or those who are in need. Not all Christians are hospitable; even to people they know. It is a definite gift to open your home to a stranger, but look at the warning the writer here gives. Don’t forget to entertain a stranger, for there have been some who have entertained angels unaware.
Intercession – I Timothy 2:1 & 8, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;… I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” This is a special gift to spend extended periods of time praying for the specific needs of others. It is not always hard to remember our friends and loved ones in prayer, but the specialty here is to be able to spend extended time; the time required to name each person and to talk with God about their specific need.
Helps – I Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” This is a special gift to invest time and talents in the work of the Lord in ways that often seem small or behind the scenes. This is one of the “Spiritual Gifts” where the problem of comparing gifts to the spirituality of the person arises. Some Christians have the special ability to just be at all Church functions and invest time in helping with anything.
Writing - I Timothy 3:14, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly.” This is a special gift to formulate thoughts into organized written forms so that the reader will be instructed and inspired. This ministry could be written messages to go along with the bulletin ministry. It may be the ability to organize and put thoughts into a church newsletter or publication.
Craftsmanship (artistic) - Exodus 31:3, “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship”. This is a special gift to create artistic items for the overall ministry of the Church. This gift is used especially among children. It is the ability to tell God’s message in some artistic way.
Craftsmanship (manual) – Exodus 31:4, “To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass”. This is a special gift to keep the Church moving through building, maintaining, and repairing the tools, building, and equipment of the Church.
A “Spiritual Gift” is given to the Christian to be used. Unfortunately, a large percentage of otherwise serious disciples are not using their particular gifts. Others are caught up in tasks for which they are not gifted. “Spiritual Gifts” must be used if others are to be ministered to through them. They are never to be admired or ignored, or saved for special days. They are to be used for the Glory of God. Developing a personal ministry hinges on discovering and developing one’s “Spiritual Gifts”. A personal ministry must center on doing things God has specifically equipped a person to do.
If the Church is to succeed and grow, members must seek out their “Spiritual Gifts” and work to develop them. Some Christians may have just one gift, while others may have many. If the Church wants to correct some mistakes it must realize that “Spiritual Gifts” are not directly proportionate to a person’s spirituality.
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