"What are Spiritual Gifts?"
Previously I shared regarding our calling by God and various gifts/talents/strengths each of us has been given by God. Never assert the false truth that you possess no gifts or talents. That is a gloomy and bogus indictment regarding the God we serve who created us special, unique, and wonderful…in His own image. We also put to death the second false notion that only “professional” clergy have been called by God. The truth is, we are all called by God to distinct tasks and missions for the Kingdom of God throughout our lives. Furthermore, we are all called to live our lives daily for God’s glory.
Let me introduce one more category of “gifts” included in the Scriptures and often called “spiritual gifts.” We find most of these specifically mentioned in the books of I Corinthians and Romans 12, although some Bible scholars include other gifts specially mentioned in several other verses throughout the New Testament.
These appear to be a slightly different “category” of gifts than the others I have discussed. Thus far I have focused upon inherent gifts or abilities or traits or strengths (as Tom Rath in his book likes to call them) that have been bestowed upon us by God at birth. In other words, these are a part of “who we are” from day one. They come more natural or easy for us. We may experience more satisfaction while using these skills. Oftentimes it is “what we like to do” or “what we are good at.”
“Spiritual gifts” are similar but also distinctive in certain ways. These are gifts bestowed upon us by God in order to facilitate the advance of Christ’s church. They are distributed to the body of Christ according to God’s perfect will. These differ from the others in that we can pray to receive them. We are told to desire these gifts. “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” (I Corinthians 14:1, NIV). And in I Corinthians 12:31, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
We should desire to have them in order to glorify God and advance the cause of Christ. There is nothing wrong with asking for specific gifts if our heart’s desire is to employ them for God’s glory alone and to reach other people for Christ. However, we must remember that God knows best and distributes them within the body of Christ as He sees fit. He sees the entire picture and understands what will best benefit the advance of truth, love, and righteousness.
Let me be clear, these gifts are not necessarily inherent within us at birth. They are distributed by God through the Holy Spirit. When are they dispersed? They could be given to us by God at any time. Some are given at the time we commit our lives to Christ. Others may be given for a particular purpose at a certain time in our lives. No matter the timing, each of these gifts must also be developed. We grow and mature in their use and effectiveness as we utilize them in the body of Christ.