1 Corinthians 12: 8-10
Romans 12: 6-8
In these three places in the Bible, you will find listings of gifts of the Spirit. The Bible teaches us that every redeemed person is given at least one gift by the Holy Spirit…at least one gift.
What do we know about the spiritual gifts that we get from the Holy Spirit?
First of all, spiritual gifts are given for service, not for personal enjoyment. What does that mean? It means that the Holy Spirit intends for you to use your gift for the glorification of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
The gift you receive may be affected by your attitude. That is not the Holy Spirit’s intention. For example, people who lack spiritual maturity may be jealous of another person’s gift. They may wish they had it, but their covetous attitude is not God’s plan. We should be content with the gift we have. Also, a person who has a gift may accept it with smugness and pride and that is definitely not God’s intention. Billy Graham* says “The Spirit in which the gift was given cannot be judged by the attitudes of the receivers.”
The Apostle Paul speaks of the Church as a physical body, where each member is likened to a body part. Each body part has a function [e.g. foot, hand, eye, head etc.]. God has placed the “members” in the body just as He wants. The head cannot say to the foot, I don’t need you. The hand cannot say to the eye, I don’t need you. All the members of the body are important, necessary parts of a functioning body and they are all essential.
Expanding from this metaphor of the human body, every member of the body of Christ is important. Every member is unique; there can never be another “you” or “me”. Likewise, your gift is unique to you. God may give similar gifts to different people but together the body of Christ is supposed to function together, members with their gifts. Graham says “If any one of us is missing, the body is incomplete, lacking some part.”
Many Christians may not know that the Bible uses the Greek word charisma [plural charismata] to speak of the gifts God has given Christians via the Holy Spirit. In contemporary language, charisma means a special person who has a certain indefinable quality which attracts people to his or her personality. We speak of certain people as having “charisma.” Graham says the New Testament use of charisma is different from today’s use. For example (by today’s standards), the Apostle Paul did not have charisma but he had definite spiritual gifts [charismata] which God had given to him. The word charismata means manifestations of grace and is usually translated simply as gifts.
God has a plan when He dispenses gifts to His believers. We are held accountable for the gifts He gives us but we are not responsible for the gifts we have not been given. We may wish we had a certain gift but if it is God’s will that you don’t have it, you just won’t have it. We can’t wish for it, pray for it and expect to get it.
Many get confused about gifts of the Spirit and fruits of the Spirit** and think they are the same thing. They are not. Every believer should have the same fruit as every other believer, but not every believer will have the same gift as every other believer. The Holy Spirit distributes gifts in a way that every believer has at least one gift which is unique to them. It is not correct to assume that everyone else has your gift.
Let me close this intro to the gifts of the Holy Spirit with a bit of personal information about Billy Graham. He writes “In my case, I believe God has given me the gift of evangelism, but I did not ask for it” [Graham, 168]. He goes on to say something that we must all think about seriously. Since he was given the gift of evangelism, he states that he would be a sinner if he did not use his gift.
If we are not using our gifts for God’s glory are we sinning?
“The gifts you and I have are the ones God has seen fit to give us, and we should seek to discover and use them for His glory” [168-69].
*from his book The Holy Spirit
**We will have extensive discussion of the fruits in later posts.