Spiritual gifts are special abilities that God gives his children for the building of their church. We must use them to bless one another and build together a strong church that honors God.
All Christians have at least one gift and the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts according to his wishes: “All this is done by one and the same Spirit, who distributes each one according to what he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11). However, the Bible also tells us that we can long for other gifts, and encourages us to ask for them (1 Corinthians 12:31).
What are the spiritual gifts for?
God gives them to his children to enable them to work together for the growth of the church. They should be used with unity of purpose, for the common good. The main desire must always be that Christ is glorified.
In order to empower the people of God for the work of service, to edify the body of Christ.
The gifts are not given as a reward to our spirituality. God gives them to us so that we can serve our brothers and encourage one another in our walk with Jesus. By using them correctly we show that God is real in our lives and that it is he who directs us.
God enables us to fulfill his work in this world through gifts. The church is more effective and works best when all its members exercise theirs. Otherwise it would be like when a tooth hurts, or we can not use the hand for some reason. Our body does not work the same nor are we as efficient. Likewise, the church suffers and limps when its members stop using, or misuse, the gifts that God has given them.
Some gifts mentioned in the Bible
In the Bible we find three main lists of gifts: 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11, 28; Romans 12: 6-8 and Ephesians 4: 7-13. Below are the gifts that mention these passages together with a brief definition.
- Wisdom : it goes beyond human wisdom. It is having the ability to know how to say or do what is right within the will of God in a specific situation.
- Knowledge : knowing or receiving the revelation of something about a person or situation without having received the information by natural means.
- Faith : total trust in the promises of God that does not yield in the face of adverse circumstances. It is greater than the normal faith that all Christians have.
- Gifts of healing : pray for people physically or emotionally ill and have the ability to bring the healing power of God to their lives.
- Miraculous powers : to make signs and wonders beyond natural laws to show the presence and power of God in a particular situation.
- Prophecy : communicate a word from God, a verse or passage, which applies to a specific situation, in order to exhort or encourage.
- Discerning spirits : ability to perceive what kind of spirit acts in a certain situation and determine if it comes from God or not.
- Speak in different languages : ability to speak a language without having studied it to communicate the gospel message. There is also the gift of angelic tongues, words understood only by God. They are for personal edification and to have special communion with him.
- Interpreting languages : being able to understand and communicate a message that has been given in languages in the language that can be understood by those who are present.
- Teaching : special ability to transmit the truths of the gospel clearly and instruct other Christians in the word of God.
- Evangelism : share the message of salvation in an attractive and relevant way to those who have not yet received God’s forgiveness.
- Help others, serve : special sensitivity to the needs of others and a great desire to do everything possible to alleviate the burden.
- Administration : knows how to organize things or activities, enjoys planning, direction and organization.
- Courage : gives the word of encouragement or motivation at the precise moment. It has a positive disposition based on the promises of the word of God.
- Give generously (help the needy): enjoy sharing your resources (time, talent and money) with others, especially those who suffer and those who carry the gospel message to other places.
- Leadership, direction : special disposition to guide others and help them grow in their walk with Jesus. He feels satisfaction in caring for and nourishing spiritually those whom God places under his care.
- Show compassion : special love, genuine mercy for the needy and the ability to identify with them.
How should we use the gifts?
It is interesting to see that the three main chapters in which the gifts are spoken have as their common denominator the theme of love and the unity of believers. This is why it is clear that the gifts should be used with love, with the desire to contribute for the good and the building of the church . Otherwise they will not fulfill the purpose for which God has granted them.
If I speak in human and angelic languages, but I do not have love, I am nothing more than a metal that resonates or a cymbal that makes noise. If I have the gift of prophecy and I understand all the mysteries and I have all knowledge, and if I have a faith that manages to move mountains, but I lack love, I am nothing. If I distribute all that I possess to the poor, and if I give my body to the flames to consume it, but I do not have love, I gain nothing from it.
(1 Corinthians 13: 1-3)
It is important to value the gifts that God has given us and the gifts that others have. All the gifts are necessary for the good functioning of the church and we should not underestimate any gift. Whatever the gift that God has given you, thank him and use it faithfully. Serve God with joy and let him move in your life and in the lives of others through the use of your gifts.
Each one puts at the service of others the gift he has received, faithfully administering the grace of God in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10)