I’m convinced there is a vast shower gift conspiracy operating in our culture. Think about it. For a wedding shower, she has all the fun. Nobody buys the sweet “couple” golf clubs or pocket knives. And then the babies, the poor little babies. They don’t get anything fun – it’s all about Mom! What a sham!
Here’s the funny thing… God is behind this conspiracy! The Bible says that every believer has been giving some special ability by the Holy Spirit, and that we are given these gifts not so that we can look or feel good, but wholly for the benefit of… others! I hope you sense my sarcasm. This is the nature of God’s gifts, and if you want to enjoy life, you’re going to have to forget about all the benefits you want to receive and start thinking about your relationship to other people.
The Bible has a lot to say about spiritual gifts, and this is one subject I’m quite opinionated on, though I’m very open to discussion. I wanted to take this opportunity to throw out some of my own beliefs concerning the subject of spiritual gifts, but I really want to leave you with a challenge at the end. So, agree or disagree, pay special attention to the last paragraph below…
My Odd Beliefs
I’ll just list them…
- Spiritual gifts are relevant to the entire New Testament age – they represent the work of the Holy Spirit in believers, but they are distinct from natural talents as well as from the fruit of the spirit.
- There are three kinds of gifts: speaking gifts (teaching, prophecy, etc.), serving gifts (mercy, hospitality, ministry, etc.) and there are sign gifts (tongues, healing, miracles, etc.).
- I believe miracles still take place, especially physical healing, but I believe that the “sign” gifts were for a limited time and are now passed away. So I’m a cessationist. For me, the completed New Testament is the proof of the spoken word, not miracles.
- Tongues were languages. The only reason we debate about “unknown tongues” as some kind of non-lingual mutterings is because of the King James version. Had we skipped the Elizabethan period of the English language, nobody would be talking about “unknown tongues.”
- Not all spiritual gifts are named in the New Testament – just a sampling.
- Spiritual gifts tests and surveys are not the best idea – they’re rather limiting and every one of them will give you a different result.
- Some spiritual gifts that get a lot of attention don’t exist. There is no spiritual gift of pastoring or evangelism. Ephesians 4 was talking about people given to the church, not gifts given to people. Therefore, “pastoring” is a calling and evangelism is a universal command for all believers.
- The greatest gift is love, and like evangelism, it’s universal.
I think these things after a lot of study and research, but if you feel differently, I still love you (even though you’re wrong…).
Pretty much none of the points I’ve made above are the message God really wants us to get, but those points get the most attention. It’s pretty easy for us to emphasize gifts over love so we can feel proud of ourselves. And it’s also easier to argue about the nature of spiritual gifts than it is to practice them. Personally, I’d rather hang around a charismatic who speaks in tongues and loves the lost than I would a Baptist with a proper theology but a harsh and un-Christlike spirit about it.
The Point Is: Every Believer Is Gifted, and Every Gift Matters
First Corinthians 12 plainly tells us some more important truths about spiritual gifts…
- Every believer has one.
- It’s a work of God – you didn’t have the ability before you were indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
- You were gifted for everybody else’s benefit, not your own.
- Gifts were given particularly for ministry within the body, but there are implications for the lost world around us.
- When we don’t use our gifts, the body of Christ doesn’t grow or work properly – we become unhealthy.
- You must actively choose to use your gift, which grants us the blessing of involvement in the process.
My Challenge To You
Here’s what I want to challenge you to do as a Christian… start serving. Don’t worry about which gift you have, follow your God-given passion, get involved, and it will become apparent to you and to others what your gift mix is. Take your natural abilities and combine them with your supernatural abilities and get to work… and enjoy it along the way!