Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finding Your Spiritual Gift

How important is it in serving God to find and use our spiritual gifts? What does Scripture say about spiritual gifts?

We are told not to think ourselves better than others because we have a particular gift. This is based on the fact the gifts are distributed by God according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:3), so not every person has every gift (1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12:6). The whole concept of the body with its various different parts implies this (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-5). The possession of a particular gift does not prove the spirituality of the one who has it (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), but rather spirituality is shown by love that does not exalt itself at the expense of others (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). But the gifts are to be used to build up others (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 14:26). Is it then proper to seek a spiritual gift you do not have (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1)? The interpretation of these verses is disputed, but it is clear that while it may be acceptable to ask for a gift, God can say "no."

Also, we should use the gifts we know we have in the proper way (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11.) This rises the question of whether some of the gifts have passed away. This does not have a solid basis in Scripture. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 in context does not prove this.) A case can be made that the original apostles were unique (Revelation 21:14; Ephesians 2:20), but the implications of this is may be argued. The one thing that is clear is if someone claims to speak the truth of God, they must be checked against Scripture (Acts 17:11; Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:8,9). This seems to me a better protection against false teaching than the more debatable position that some gifts have passed away. But if God distributes the gifts as He wills, I see no basis for holding one is required to have some particular gift. Scriptures used to support this merely say God provides these gifts in general, but not necessarily that all these gifts are operating at every time and place (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Ephesians 4:11,12; Mark 16:17,18). Therefore, we should be cautious about rejecting or demanding a particular gift.

What I would conclude, then, is that Scripture calls upon us to use our abilities to serve God and to be satisfied with who we are in God's service, neither envying nor looking down on others. But Scripture has surprisingly little to say about the need to find or how to find your spiritual gift. What I have to conclude is, if we choose to serve God, He will lead us to find the gifts we have. But while spiritual gifts have their place, I see no basis for regarding the understanding and using of spiritual gifts as the key to being able to serve God. If we follow Christ and do what He wants us to do, other things will fit into place.

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