The Apostle Paul addresses the presence of spiritual gifts in three main sections of Scripture: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Peter also verifies their existence in 1 Peter 4:10. These sections of Scripture provide the following understanding:
All Christians have been given at least one spiritual gift. The purpose of a spiritual gift is twofold: (1) to unify Christians in their faith and (2) to produce both numerical and spiritual growth within the Church. We’re to use these gifts out of love for one another and in service to one another.
We don’t choose which gifts we receive. God bestows them upon us through the work of the Spirit. Just as we don’t have a say in the color of our eyes or how tall we are, we can’t select our own gifts. They’re truly “gifts” given to us at the will of the Spirit.
Spiritual gifts aren’t natural talents. All people have natural talents—things they do well. We receive natural talents at our physical birth. Only believers receive spiritual gifts—at our spiritual birth. Your natural talents and spiritual gifts can sometimes work together but are still each a different part of your individual make up.
Spiritual gifts aren’t to be confused with Christian roles. Some Christian disciplines have corresponding spiritual gifts, but the two aren’t the same. God calls all Christians to be people of prayer, but some have the gift of intercession. God wants each of us to be merciful, but some have the gift of mercy. God calls us to tithe, but some have the gift of giving. A lack of a certain gift doesn’t exempt you from exercising that role. So what’s the difference? Those who have the corresponding gift usually go above and beyond the call of duty (with a sense of joy rather than obedience).
Spiritual gifts aren’t the same as the “fruits of the Spirit.” Galatians 5 lists the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc). These are the attitudes we strive for or they are a result of using our gifts. Paul says he could have all gifts (and no one has them all), but if he doesn’t show love, he’s like a noisy gong.
God gives us spiritual gifts—abilities that bring satisfaction and meaning to our lives when we use them in God’s service. Put another way, gifts of the Spirit have a great deal to do with the way that God has “wired” us.
God’s Word says that every believer can minister in some way. Each person has important work to do in the Church regardless of gender, age or education.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Clearly our God-given abilities, skills, and passions are to be used to build up the Body of Christ and to glorify God.
Read Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1 Peter 4:10-11 and you will have read the four major sections in the New Testament on spiritual gifts.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.