"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." - Romans 12:6
"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." - 1 Corinthians 12:14-20
The issue of spiritual gifts is one of paramount importance in the life of every local church. It is easy to underestimate how significant this issue is, but the fact that Paul discusses spiritual gifts so prominently in Romans 12 (after eleven chapters of deep doctrine, followed by two verses—Romans 12:1-2—of universal application to present your bodies as living sacrifices) shows how utterly essential it is for us to understand what spiritual gifts are and how they must be used. Paul also gives extensive space to this topic in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4. This is not a dry, abstract, theological topic. It is one with the richest and most fruitful practical implications for the life and ministry of the church.
What are spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts are special abilities that God gives by the Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ. Scripture teaches that every Christian has spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:7: “But to each one grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”), and that we will all he held accountable for how we used them. There are lists of gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Since these lists are all different from each other, it leads me to believe they are meant to be suggestive rather than exhaustive. A composite list from those places looks like this: prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, mercy, evangelism, pastoring, hospitality, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. I actually believe that each Christian has an array or “recipe” of spiritual gifts given which God mixes by His wisdom to enable us to do the good works He has ordained for us to do (Eph. 2:10).
I believe a three-step process for full fruitfulness in this area is this: 1) discover, 2) develop, 3) use your spiritual gifts. First, discover what they are. Do this by seeking the Lord according to the wisdom given in Romans 12:1-5: Present your souls, bodies, minds, and wills to God so that you can discern and approve His good pleasing and prefect will for yourself; then think about yourself with sober judgment and by faith. Then get active doing the various common ministries that all Christians should be doing: serving, praying, evangelizing, giving, encouraging, etc. As you do these good deeds, look for validation and encouragement from the church body concerning your gifts. Once you have discovered what your spiritual gift package is, develop your gifts to a sharp edge by using them constantly. If your gift is teaching, keep learning how to teach better and better. If it is prayer, keep developing your prayer gift by studying how other great prayer warriors have developed in prayer. If it is giving, study how other great giving warriors have developed their gifts to a high level. And use your gifts constantly. Be active in finding ways to make the most of the gifts God has given you to build up the Body of Christ.
"I believe a three-step process for full fruitfulness in this area is this: 1) discover, 2) develop, 3) use your spiritual gifts."
One of my biggest concerns for local churches is that they will be a “come, listen, and leave” church without evangelistic power and without strong community. Spiritual gift ministry is one of the most powerful provisions God has given us to prevent that from happening. Are you using your spiritual gifts in a regular pattern of definable ministry? If not, then make changing this area of your life the top ministry priority for the rest of 2022. You will be joyful and fruitful, other people will benefit, and God will be glorified as a result.