“All spiritual gifts are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses... Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts.” ~1 Corinthians 12:11; 14:1a (NRSV).
It is perfectly appropriate for believers to seek God on the topic of spiritual gifting.
How else are they to find their heart and ability for service?
Even better is the appropriation of a small suite of gifts, for all of us have more than one, and up to five or more—in varying levels of Blessed provision.
We will have primary gifts, and added to these are subsidiary gifts to make our fit for ministry irrefutably unique. Like the DNA that makes up our physical bodies—the matchless array of amino acids comprising the double helixes of me and you—our formula for gifting bears the fingerprint God gave us in original form.
Determining Our Spiritual Gifts
We must ask questions like:
1. What do other people say I’m good at?
2. Do I enjoy those things; do they have me leaping out of bed of a morning, or up late at night with energy to burn?
3. What do I personally think I’m good at—considering that everyone’s good at some things.
4. What knowledge or experience or intuition or practical skill has God blessed me with?
5. What do I envy in others so far as their gifts are concerned? Is this a hint regarding unmet needs deep within me?
The Gifts of the Spirit are: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, kindness, giving aid, acts of mercy (Romans 12:6-8); wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11); apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11); speaking and service (1 Peter 4:11).
Gifts and Opportunities for Their Use
The best opportunities for Christian service exist 24/7, and they exist for others, particularly within the Body of Christ, and not especially for ourselves.
These opportunities persist even beyond our unique gifting, so establishing abilities and capacities beyond our recognised spiritual gifts is vital. We should feel that the Lord has made all the gifts accessible to us, appropriate to his will. This doesn’t mean we’ll have all the gifts or that everyone has a particular gift—that’s not biblical (1 Corinthians 12:14-21; 28-30).
That said, we should be prepared to ‘have a go’ at nurturing the ones that come least, or not so, naturally.
Opportunities at gift expression, again, correspond in us recognising our interdependence with each other; the church. Gifts are about blessing other people.
A test of the presence of a gift, therefore, is: Does God use it, through me, to bring blessing to other people, especially in the church context?
Healthily Desiring the Spirit Gifts
A healthy desire for the spiritual gifts is dependent on at least two things.
We must understand it is only the Holy Spirit that allots gifting. Secondly, these gifts are only useful if we have the service of others, and therefore God, close at heart and front of mind.
If we accept the first condition, and are motivated by the second, we can expect the Spirit to accede to our desires around spiritual gifts.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.