Spiritual gifts are gifts given to believers once they give their hearts to Jesus Christ. It is not to be mistaken for spiritual fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. The key difference between spiritual gifts and fruit is that spiritual fruits deals with spiritual characteristics while spiritual gifts deals with spiritual capabilities. Spiritual characteristics are what we are in Christ. Spiritual capabilities on the other hand are what we do in Christ.
I am aware that there are believers who believe that spiritual gifts where only relevant in the apostolic era and that they are no longer needed since the church has been formed. I do not believe in this theology because it clearly contradicts what the bible says.
Every believer has a spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12:7, Ephesians 4:7). However there are many whose gifts are laying dormant because they are not operating in them. One of the main reasons for this ignorance. Many are unaware of these gifts. Some have not been exposed to teachings of these gifts. Some have been taught wrongly and as such accepts that it is only available and accessible to those on the pulpit.
The church in Corinth were experiencing something similar to what we are experiencing today. They misunderstood what spiritual gifts were. As Paul was addressing the various issues that were happening in the church, he tackled the one of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.
God has given us these gifts in varying measures. In Romans 12:6, Paul mentions that our gifts have been given to us by God’s grace. It isn’t because of our works or because we are better than others. He went on to beg every believer not to think of himself/herself more highly than s/he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him/her .
No one person has all the gifts of the spirit and no one has none. Some have more than others. Understanding this truth will help us stay humble.
All spiritual gifts are to be used to edify the church. They are used to serve others and not ourselves. The only one that benefits the carrier of the gift is the gift of speaking in tongues which Paul tells us edifies the individual (1 Corinthians 14:4).
Spiritual Gifts are not to be used in bossing others around or in making us feel more superior. There is no hierarchy in these gifts.
The above bible verses list all the spiritual gifts that are available to us.
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Gifts of healings
- Working of miracles
- Discerning of spirits
- Different kinds of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
Romans 12:6-8, added;
Ephesians 4:11 added;
Ephesians 4:11 reveals what has been termed as the 5 fold ministry – Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, pastoral and teaching. The ones already named were skipped to avoid repetition.
Categorising Spiritual Gifts
I am not a huge fan of categorising spiritual gifts mainly because they weren’t clearly categorised in the bible. But i see and understand the possibility of grouping them together based on their functionalities. The only place in the bible i see that might aid the idea of categorisation of gifts is in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. I am unsure if this can be held as a valid reason for categorisation but i do find it helpful. All of the gifts are important and none is more important than the other. The aim of this session is not to compare gifts or focus on categorisation of gifts but to aid overall understanding of their operations in the church.
All of the 20 gifts listed above can be categorised into three.
- Motivational gifts
Prophecy: Prophecy is the spoken or written word from God; to forthtell (console or correct) and to foretell (predict). We have many prophecies in the body of Christ about foretelling the future but very few actually console and corrects. If all our prophecies are based on telling what will happen and we never slow down to give comfort and correction, we are getting it wrong.
Prophecy is the revelation of truth. It exposes sin and promotes righteousness and holy living. The aim of prophecy is not to leave anyone in condemnation but to bring about restoration in the fellowship of that individual with God. When prophecy is active in the church, some battles are avoided or fought better because they are revealed beforehand. A church without prophecy will find herself spending more time fighting challenges because there is no one seeing ahead.
Helping/Service: It is true that as believers it should be in our new nature to help others. However there are people who specifically operate in this gifting. I know of a particle lady who is blessed with this gift. She is always the first to show up when help is needed. She doesn’t see it as a big deal. When everyone else is tired and leaves, she is still there. When it comes to tidying of the church, visiting others, cleaning etc, she is there. She is able to go above and beyond what others can do because she is gifted in this area.
This is one of the gifts that is overlooked in the body of Christ because you don’t often see these people on the pulpit. But the moment you lose your helpers in a church, the impact is often tremendous.
Teaching: There are people who like to study and do a lot of research in order to validate truth so that the church is not misinformed. Once they find out what the truth is, they are easily able to convey it to the church in a way that everyone is able to understand. These people are gifted in the gift of teaching. Someone with this gift is inquisitive and wants to clarify things that are not clear. There are a lot of false doctrines and teaching flying around, so, the need for the gift of teaching is very important in the church.
Exhorting/Encouraging: With all the pain going on in the world today, the need for encouragers cannot be overemphasised. The church experiences grief, feeling of abandonment, lack, joblessness, delays, denials, sickness, weariness, division and so on. Exhorters and encouragers are gifted in lifting up the spirit of the church while navigating through tough seasons.
Most often, teachers are also gifted in encouraging and counselling.
Giving: This isn’t really about giving your barest minimum. There are people who are willing to go without so someone else can have.
They don’t mind sharing their 2 bedroom apartment with another family of 3 just so that family don’t end up sleeping others. They have no problem letting go of their last penny to help someone else. They continue giving even when it seems like they are being taken advantage of. When it comes to needing resources in church, these people go the extra mile.
Leadership: There are people who are good at executing tasks. Tell them what you want and they deliver excellently. They organise and delegate responsibilities. They structure and give clear and detailed plan on what and how to execute a task. They are easily followed because they are gifted in this area. Not everyone is gifted with leadership. Any congregation that lacks this gift, struggles to grow.
Mercy/Kindness: People operating in this gifting are generous and considerate. As this gift is often used alongside encouraging others, it is not surprising that people who has gift of mercy or kindness are also encouragers.
They don’t just “say it as it is”. They think about the impact it will have and they say things as the Holy Spirit wants them to deliver the message. They always consider the bigger picture.
To be continued….
In part 2 of this study, we will be looking at ministerial and manifestation gifts.