1 Corinthians 12:1 (NIV)
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.
If you ever find yourself wondering how God feels about you understanding the gifts that He has given you, look no further than this verse. When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian Church, he probably didn’t realize that we would still be reading his words thousands of years later. But God did.
That is why He told Paul to write the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians which focuses on spiritual gifting. God didn’t want the people of Corinth to be uninformed about spiritual gifts, and He doesn’t want you to, either.
In addition to the verses that we’re going to study today, be sure to look at all of 1 Corinthians 12 in order to better understand some spiritual gifts. But first, let’s build a foundational knowledge of what these gifts are and what God has for you.
What Are Spiritual Gifts?
Romans 1:11-12 (NIV)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Before we begin evaluating ourselves to better determine what type of spiritual gifts are active in our own lives, we first need to understand what a spiritual gift is. While the Bible doesn’t come out and explicitly define the term, we can look to the lists of spiritual giftings found in the New Testament to gain a better understanding.
Perhaps the most concise way to define spiritual gift is, “a supernatural ability given by God to His people in order to advance the Kingdom.”
This definition, while short and concise, explains the two most important components of spiritual gifts. First, they come from God. We do not earn them, and we certainly do not create them. God gives us those gifts based on what He knows that we can handle. You were born with certain talents and aptitudes.
God gifts you with spiritual abilities that align with those talents.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, God gives us those gifts as a means of furthering His Kingdom. In a moment, we’re going to dive into one of the two lists of spiritual gifts found in the New Testament. You will notice that each of them has the potential to help with reaching people with the Gospel of Truth.
Spiritual gifts come from God, and spiritual gifts advance the Kingdom. Now that you have that part down, let’s look at what some of these gifts look like.
Do I Have Any Spiritual Gifts?
Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)
We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
In this passage from Romans, Paul names seven spiritual gifts. Let’s take a brief look at each of these gifts to see if any of them align with what God has already blessed you to be able to do.
Paul begins by discussing the gift of prophecy. In Scripture, prophesying pertains to two different things. First, prophecy involves telling someone about an event that has not happened yet. This is common in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the term is also used to describe someone sharing the Word of God with others.
God still calls and operates through prophets today, and there are men and women of God who can foretell things to come. However, this term also applies to those who preach His Word.
The gift of serving may not sound like a glamourous gift, but it is one of the first gifts that Paul put on this list. People who are not only willing but are eager to humble themselves to serve others are gifted people. The gift of serving requires humility and compassion.
When we see the gift of teaching on this list after the gift of prophecy, it’s easy to get a little confused. If prophecy is sharing the Word of God, why does Paul list teaching as a separate gift?
Because good teachers don’t just share the Word, they help people understand the Word. Not only does the gift of teaching require boldness to share the Gospel, but it also requires a commitment to study the Gospel so you can effectively share it with others.
Much like the gift of serving, the gift of encouragement requires you to be in tune with the needs of others. Many of the people you deal with every day likely won’t come up to you and say that they need encouragement.
Instead, people who possess this gift can recognize when someone is struggling, often without being told. To encourage means to “put courage into someone.” People who have the gift of encouragement are ready to be there for others and to share the Good News with them in a way that helps them deal with what they’re facing.
The gift of giving is another gift that starts inwardly before coming outward. People who have the gift of giving rarely receive a lot of recognition for what they’re doing. However, they play integral parts in the Kingdom’s expansion.
Does your local church have any type of ministry that provides food or clothing for those who can’t afford to do that for themselves? If so, that ministry needs money to operate. People who have the gift of giving recognize the need around them and then eagerly give.
These people often give anonymously, so you may not even realize how many people around you share the gift of giving.
For generations, there have been widespread debates about leadership, and whether it is a born trait or a learned trait. According to this list of spiritual gifts from Paul, leadership is a spiritual gift.
Look at the men and women who serve in a leadership capacity in your church. They are willing to not only bear the responsibility of leadership, but they are willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs.
Leadership is a gift, and Paul admonishes anyone who claims to have it to lead “diligently,” which means to handle this gift “great care.” Maybe great leaders aren’t born or taught; perhaps, they are gifted.
Finally, the gift of mercy appears on Paul’s list of spiritual gifts. It could be argued that Paul saved mercy for last because it is often the most difficult gift for us to put to work in our own lives. The gift of mercy requires us to be quick to forgive others. In fact, it requires us to be eager to forgive others. This gift isn’t an easy one to use, but its impact on the world can be profound.
Once you recognize the spiritual gifts God has given you, start putting them to work. Use what the Father has placed in you, not only to embrace your own purpose, but to expand the Kingdom of God.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gifts, talents, and abilities that You have given me. Help me to recognize how I can use them to expand Your Kingdom. I know that You have gifted me for a purpose, and I am eager to embrace it. In Christ’s name, Amen.