23 January 2015

Spiritual Gifts Are More than Us

Spiritual gifts are often confused with natural talents.

"What are you good at?" is a question that leads many spiritual gifts tests and motivates many ministry-minded people. And if you are like me, the gifts we are labeled with are talents we possessed all our lives--not received after we converted to a life surrendered to Christ.

It's true that spiritual gifts are not as blatant now as in the early church when new believers received the Spirit, often with immediate, visual evidence like prophesying or healing or speaking in tongues. Still, gifts are promised in the Bible (I Cor. 12:7); therefore, they are given to Christians when they choose Jesus.

So . . . what is my gift?

I've been dwelling on this question for several years since our church studied 1 Corinthians 12. At the time, I remember thinking with disappointment and confusion, "People tell me I have gifts. But those were things I was already good at. So is it really a spiritual gift?" If it is given only to believers, then a spiritual gift wouldn't be an admirable tendency I had from birth, a skill I worked hard to achieve, or a passion I'd always felt burning within.

If it's not genes, discipline, or desire--what is a spiritual gift?

It would have to be a change. It would have to be supernatural, almost displaced in me, pointing to a Giver outside of myself.

And here is where pseudo-Christians run into a problem. Many, many so-called believers have never changed. "Conversion" was more of discovering a religion that fit with current morals, met an emotional need, or satisfied pestering guilt. None of these are genuine repentance and submission; therefore all of these cases would involve people deceiving themselves about salvation.

But truly following Jesus changes everything. We don't add Jesus to our lives.  He is life. 

Then, we change.

And in the midst of that change, God gives us spiritual gifts--beautiful, amazing abilities we did not have before that should not only build up the church but also constantly remind us that He is working in us. 

A hardened heart finds mercy
A selfish soul begins to serve
A cynical smirk transforms into faith
A prideful critic starts to shepherd
A noisy gong rings out prophecy

So even if a spiritual gift enhances a natural talent, that upgrade should still glow of supernatural change. It should still invite awe and praise and an undeniable credit to God's intervention.

Therefore, instead of asking "What am I good at?" when considering spiritual gifts, we should probably ask "What am I good at now as I'm following Christ that is much different than before when I lived separate from Him?"

Isn't this freeing? We do God's work with God's gifts. Our natural talents help out, for sure, but He equips us Himself to act in ways we couldn't previously, and therefore He deserves the glory for any kingdom work we do. 

Spiritual gifts are more than talents. They are more than us. They are God working through us.

Now, as I look at myself and how I've changed, I'm filled with gratefulness to God. He has given me grace for others that was previously contempt. He has given me a love for unity that was previously a drive for leadership. He has given me words that were previously noise. But these are His gifts--gifts and not talents of which I can boast. So instead, I praise.

Abide in Him,

Here is a chart I found helpful that differentiates natural talents from spiritual gifts.
This post is part of a conversation on the writing prompt "Gifted" at Velvet Ashes' The Grove.

Related articles you may also appreciate:
Don't Pray for Safety
When the Culture Wars Are Actually Spiritual
The Siren Call of Earthly Significance


  1. Anonymous1/29/2015

    Malia, this is so beautiful! I recently read Ray Comfort's "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and it talks about these false conversions and church back-sliding. It was very eye-opening!
    I love talking about spiritual gifts. I love that when He dwells in us He works through us, in spite of ourselves.
    I really enjoyed reading this!

    1. Ray Comfort is incredible! Thanks for sharing that resource. Thank you for your encouraging comment!


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