Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Knowing Your Spiritual Gift

This past Saturday I attended a men's breakfast at which we were going to discuss the subject of spiritual gifts.  After eating we were asked to take an evaluation for helping determine our spiritual gift(s)—mostly for personal benefit.  My results were no surprise.  This one was based on the book Discover Your God-Given Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune. * Another I have tried in the past is Spiritual Gifts Inventory from Team Ministry.

Afterwards, I thought about the relative usefulness of such evaluations.  Consider that no mention is ever made in Scripture about how one knows what spiritual gift he or she has received.  Many Christians find this unnerving and fret over how to discover their spiritual gift and use it properly.  This is especially promoted in pietistic denominations where a high premium is placed on knowing God's will for life.  While learning the "correct" things through building a mystical relationship with God or Christ, he is expected to manifest works commensurate with the personal knowledge gained to gauge spiritual progress.

Scripture presents a different approach.  Consider the apostle Peter's instruction:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.  (1 Pet 4:10-11)
There is not one word about how the gift is received: just use your gift as the Lord supplies.  The other passages mentioning gifts and manifestations (Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Eph 4:11-14) also exclude any how the gifts are gained except that the Holy Spirit gives them as he wills.  The intent of these passages is not to be overly concerned about searching for what that gift is, but that God has supplied gifts in each assembly for the common good: your gift is as valuable as anyone else.  The instruction is given for our encouragement to be an active part of Christ's body.

Where the above evaluations can help is making obvious what we and others already know about us.  A spiritual gift makes itself known in the natural course of growing in Christ and being obedient to him, as God's Word states in Proverbs 18:16
A man’s gift makes room for him
    and brings him before the great.
What one discovers through the reading, hearing, and study of the Bible is used by the Holy Spirit for everyday life in ways needful to the believer for use in the local assembly.  Many times the Christian will notice or question something indicating how the Spirit is working and gifting.  Certain works or ministries become second nature as that person continues in the faith.

Because gifts are divinely given, we should be far less concerned with having a proper knowledge of his spiritual gift and trying to do something for God in life, than being submissive to the Spirit working in and through us.  Do not be chasing after what you fear is lacking.  Use the gift sovereignly and specifically bestowed on you as Christ's blood-bought saint to the glory of God.

* See Heart to Heart International Ministries.

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