Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spiritual Gifts

Lately I’ve been thinking on the topic of spiritual gifts. The Bible has many verses on spiritual gifts, and clearly states that each of us has at least one.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:4-8)

It seems like the Church, both as a body and as individuals, neglects to emphasize the significance of the fact that not only do we have a spiritual gift, but we each have our own gift, and a different way that gift manifests itself in us.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

If the Holy Spirit endows each of us with a unique gift, then that must mean we have this specific gift for a purpose. And if we have this gift for a purpose, and neglect to put it to use for the kingdom of God, then that must mean we are wasting it. And who are we to take for granted a holy and undeserved gift from the Lord? I feel like many of us (myself included) are more afraid of volunteer sign-up sheets than of the Devil himself. And where as it isn’t appropriate to say that everybody should be raising their hand to serve in the nursery, or visit shut-ins, isn’t it right that we should seek out ways to bless others with these powers of God working through us?

I took a spiritual gift test today. It was exhaustive and detailed, and told me that my spiritual gifts were faith and discernment. This is interesting to me, because I know that means that God has a specific reason for giving me these certain gifts. He wants me to use them in the church, for the Kingdom…somehow. This doesn’t seem as clear to me as a gift such as healing or teaching would be (although, coincidentally, teaching was a very close 3rd place on my results). What do you do with a gift like Faith? And Discernment? Do you sit there, trust in God, and glare righteously at evildoers? I don’t think so, but neither can I see a certain direction with these things, as far as serving in the church goes. I want to serve, and I pray that God will present me with an opportunity to use His powers that He’s letting me borrow to in turn bring glory to Him. However, regrettably, as excited about service as I sound (look?) right now, I, also, have been known to be one of those dive-under-the-pew/hide-behind-the-bulletin people when the pastor looks my way while talking about volunteering. What is the cause of this reluctance? Is it laziness, or a fear or failure/incompetence? Or, perhaps it’s more along the lines of selfishness? I believe that it’s all three of these things, but I also think that they all really stem from selfishness. Selfishness is not exactly how the world tends to define it. When we are selfish, not only do we tend to think on ourselves more often than we should, but we also have a warped view of reality. Selfishness is extremely easy to be caught up in, because it means that we view the world through how it relates to us, and us alone. Since I am, and can be, only one being, it’s not difficult to see how our perspective could eventually become the only one we are aware of. When we look at church, service, and spiritual gifts through the screen of “Me” (as in, our own selves), the big picture gets lost, and what we see is a tunnel-vision version of the benefits our services reap. Serving others and exercising our spiritual gifts seems more like drudgery or penance and less like fulfilling our life purpose. When we see it as something we must do in order to be a “good person”, and not as the intended purpose God made us for, we see the effects of a self-centered mindset. Being able to see the big picture as it pertains to God and His kingdom is unnatural for us humans. But in order to gain understanding in the value of our spiritual gifts, it is also essential.


Anonymous said...

Great insight! One thing I discovered (I think it was a chapel message at PCC) is that we often look at spiritual gifts in a sense as primarily towards the World. However, the Church and our fellowship with and ministry to other Christians is given definite priority in the New Testament over evangelism (even though evangelism is the charge of the Church). Think of it like, yes, evangelism is the purpose of the Church, but if Believers aren't ministering to each other first, the ministry of the Church as a whole towards the world will suffer.

Ephesians 4:12, for instance, immediately after listing the primary spiritual gifts, states that their purpose is "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

Megan said...

Mmmm, very true. As I've said before, I think that alot of time the Church gets so caught up in outreach that we forget to keep feeding our own flock. It seems we must choose between bringing lots of people the good news, but having a weaker congregation...and not making any new disciples, but having a very strong (if small) congregation. I think there must be a way to balance the two...but then again, the Bible does say that the number of true believers is small. In my view, if a church has a ginormous crowd, then most likely (although certainly not all the time) they have watered down the truth a bit in order to appeal to the masses. The Truth is often hated, even by those who say the subscribe to it.

Anyways, thanks for the comment. It's nice to know it's being read. ;-)

Steve Rho Hill said...

I find, however, that a small congregation is the best method. I find that, in large churches, a newcomer is offered a certain level of animosity when it comes to being reached by the saints. Although God is the one who reaches out for people and calls them, I cannot help but think that large congregations tend to get caught up in trivial matters when it comes to outreach. And, in a small church, gifts are brought to light easily and are in more demand thus the need of Christians to help in the Body of a small Congregation. But maybe I'm just ranting because I come from a small church. Go figure...