SPIRITUAL GIFTS SUMMARY
KNOWLEDGE – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discover, accumulate, analyze, and clarify information and ideas that are important to the well being of the Body.
WISDOM – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ as to how given knowledge may best be applied to specific situations arising in the Body. The insight comes from the Holy Spirit.
EVANGELISM/EVANGELIST – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to share the Gospel in such a way that people become disciples of Jesus, responsible and active members of the Body of Christ.
ENCOURAGEMENT (also called “Exhortation”) – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister words of comfort, consolation, counsel and encouragement in such a way that people feel helped and even healed.
GIFTS OF HEALING (The only gift that is plural) – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to heal illness and restore health. Illness and health can be of body, mind and spirit. Persons with this gift are not healers. Christ the Crucified and Risen One is the Healer, using human hands layed on others in Jesus’ name – i.e. We are the Body of Christ, Christ has no hands now but ours! The healing may not be instantaneous – i.e. “miraculous” – but is often a process.
MIRACLES – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to perform “powerful acts” (The literal meaning of the biblical word translated as “miracle”) that may be perceived by others as extraordinary – i.e. having altered the course of nature.
MARTYRDOM – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to take risks that “witness” (The literal meaning of the biblical word translated as “martyr”) with an extraordinary boldness, even to risk one’s life; to face death with faith that is a witness to resurrection!
SHEPHERD (also called “pastor”. The word “pastor” literally means “shepherd” and this spiritual gift is NOT to be confused with the office of pastor, i.e. ordained clergy) – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume care and responsibility for the spiritual growth and welfare of a group of believers – usually a small group within a congregation – i.e. a choir director, Bible study leader, committee chairperson could be using the gift of shepherd. The group needs to be small enough that the shepherd knows each person by name and is acquainted with their needs.
MERCY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals who suffer distressing physical, mental or emotional problems, and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds that reflect God’s love and alleviate the suffering.
PROPHECY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate a message from God to people.
NOTE: In the list of gifts in Romans 12:1-8; I Cor. 12:1-11, 27-31 and Eph. 4:7-16, these are two gifts that are in all three lists and one of them is prophecy. Yet we don’t always create a safe environment in the church for those with this gift to risk humbly saying, “I believe I may have a word from God”. In the early church those with this gift were welcome AND there was a test for prophecy. Those with this gift humbly offered up the message to be tested – for this gift (and any of the gifts) can be misused or abused. The test for prophecy has three parts: (1) Does it align with or go against what we already know to be the written word of God in scripture? Not that revelation isn’t ongoing – but that’s usually more a question of interpretation of God’s Word as it is applied in a new context; (2) The community is to pray about the message and talk about it. If it’s a message from God, God will confirm it through agreement and unity as people pray and share. Not that people can’t resist and quench the Spirit because of their own fears and agendas. IT’S MESSY – but the Spirit brings order out of chaos; and (3) sometimes we have to wait and see if the message or the prophecy comes to pass – only then will we know for sure it was from God. We should also consider the testimony of those who have the spiritual gift of discernment.
DISCERNMENT – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know with assurance whether something is of God – or whether it’s of human origin, or even something evil.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to (1) speak (or sing) in a language they have not learned – i.e. often called “a prayer language” or “special language of praise” and/or (2) to receive and communicate a message from God to people in a language they have never learned, which is then interpreted.
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES – the special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ (often to those with the gift of speaking in tongues) to make known in the vernacular of a community the message of one who speaks in tongues. (So, speaking in tongues WITH INTERPRETATION functions LIKE PROPHECY.)
GIVING – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to contribute material resources to the work of the Lord with liberality and cheerfulness.
REMEMBER: There is a role related to every gift. We are all called to the role of giving, but since we do not all have the spiritual gift of giving, God calls us all to “tithe”, to give 10% (“tithe” means “1/10”) of our income to the church for God’s work. And, since we do not all have the spiritual gift of giving, if the truth be told sometimes we grumble about tithing, resist growing in our giving towards tithing if we are not tithers, and fear we will not have enough – even though we can never out-give the God who pours out “grace upon grace”! (John 1:16) These with the spiritual gift of giving go beyond the tithe, and they do it with “cheer” not fear! They “love” to give with generosity. It brings them “joy” and “peace”! Remember, that’s the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23! And don’t think one has to be wealthy to have the spiritual gift of giving – anymore than one has to be wealthy to tithe. We can all give 10% of whatever we have and there are many people who are not wealthy who give of whatever they have “with liberality and cheerfulness.”
HOSPITALITY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to provide an open home or space and a warm welcome to those in need of food and lodging, respite or refuge.
NOTE: We wouldn’t be here if not for people in the early church using their gift of hospitality. The early church met in people’s homes – there was no church building. Today, it may not be so much about opening your home as it is about making the church campus a place of hospitality and warm welcome, good food and hot coffee, shelter to the homeless and rest for the soul.
MISSIONARY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister whatever other spiritual gifts they have in another culture.
NOTE: We usually think of missionaries as spreading the Gospel and converting people to the Christian faith. But, recall, that is the spiritual gift of evangelism/evangelist. Defined in the first sermon I preached (and e-Blast) about spiritual gifts. If one has both the gifts of missionary and evangelism – then they do that in another culture. Otherwise, if they have the gift of missionary, they use their other gifts in that second culture. The gift of missionary is what allows them to easily and successfully cross cultures. Note, too, that most people have more than one spiritual gift. We all have a GIFT MIX of two or three primary gifts and another two or three secondary gifts that support of compliment the primary ones. You may use them all at once or, at different times, you may be called to ministry that focuses on just one or two and the other gifts are kind of moved to the back burner – until they are called for again.
TEACHING – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to communicate information relevant to the health and the ministry of the Body and its members in such a way that others will learn.
REMEMBER: The process for discovering whether a particular spiritual gift is yours is to experiment, to try it for a while. But sometimes you have to try it in different ways, do more than one experiment. Teaching helps illustrate this – suppose you try teaching Sunday school and conclude teaching is not your gift – i.e. there was no “fruit”: You didn’t “enjoy” teaching; you couldn’t be “patient” with the kids; it was hard to be “gentle” and “kind”; you felt no “peace”; you didn’t “love” it (Galatians 5:22-23) and the kids didn’t love it either, they didn’t learn. But that only tells you your gift is not to teach the grade(s) you taught in your trial period. What if your gift is to teach younger children or older youth? There’s a difference between pre-schoolers, elementary age youth, middle-schoolers and high-school students. Or maybe your gift is to teach adults. Maybe your gift is to teach youth or adults of your gender. Maybe you aren’t meant to be in a class room but to mentor one-on-one. One person’s gift can be to teach a small group and another to teach an auditorium full of people – they are different. Some people’s teaching gift is evident live and in person. Others do better on camera, making instructional videos, writing books or creating curriculum. It’s all the spiritual gift of teaching. You need to experiment with enough settings and circumstances to discover if a particular gift is yours AND HOW IT WORKS FOR YOU so that it bears fruit!
EXORCISM – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to cast down demons or evil spirits.
NOTE: “Possession” by a demon or evil spirit is not a biblical concept. So properly speaking, demons are not “cast out”. In the battle between good and evil in the world, people can be “oppressed” by evil spirits and those with this gift “cast off” or “cast down” demons in Jesus’ name. This ministry of liberation requires very careful and caring DISCERNMENT – another spiritual gift defined in my second e-blast. The gift is not meant to displace modern psychology – which is the one of the ways God is at work healing and liberating people. The gift of exorcism is not widely distributed and is rarely used. At the same time we should not underestimate or dismiss the reality of evil. Nor should we fear it. As Martin Luther taught, Christ on the cross and on Easter has defeated “the power of sin, death and the devil” and “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39). When in spiritual conflict God also provides us with “Spiritual armor” – which you can read about in Ephesians 6:10-19.
INTERCESSORY PRAYER – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to pray for extended people of time on a regular basis and see frequent and specific answers to prayer, to a degree much greater than that which is expected of the average Christian.
NOTE: We are all called to pray, the role related to this spiritual gift. But most of us can’t keep our focus if we pray for more than 2 or 3 minutes – maybe 5 or 10. We get distracted. Those with the gift of intercessory prayer can pray for 20 minutes or an hour – or more – and it’s like no time has passed. They are lost in prayer … and “love” it! It brings them “joy” and “peace” — the “fruit of the Spirit”. Most of us can pray for someone or something and then let go, we give it to God and move on. And that’s OK. Those with the gift of intercessory prayer keep praying until God gives the answer — and they “see frequent and specific answers to a degree much greater than the rest of us.”
FAITH – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God for God’s work.
NOTE: We all have some faith. We all believe in God or are coming to believe. We also have our questions and doubts. Our faith – the role of faith – has its limits. People with the spiritual gift of faith are able to go beyond the limits of the role. This is what Jesus called “faith so as to move mountains!” (Matthew 17:20). When we are ready to give up because we think the Gospel work to which God has called us is impossible, those with the gift of faith remind us that, “with God all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26).
SERVICE – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to identify unmet needs involved in a task related to God’s work and to help meet those needs and accomplish the desired results.
NOTE: The church needs lots of people with the spiritual gift of service to accomplish its mission. These are people who can do all kinds of things – whatever needs to be done. They jump right in. When they are finished with one task they move onto the next unmet need. It may appear as if they don’t have a specific gift – but this is there gift: they can do many things and be of service in many ways.
HELPS – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to invest their talents in the life and ministry of other members of the Body, thus enabling others to increase the effectiveness of their own spiritual gifts.
NOTE: People in leadership roles in ministries of the church usually need one or two people with the spiritual gift of Helps to come alongside and assist with certain tasks – the kinds of things that can be delegated and free the leader to focus their energy where it is most needed and will be the most productive.
VOLUNTARY POVERTY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to renounce material comfort and luxury and adopt a personal lifestyle equivalent to those living at the poverty level in a given society, in order to more effectively use whatever other spiritual gifts they have among those who are poor.
VOLUNTARY CELIBACY – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to remain single and enjoy it; to be unmarried and not suffer undue sexual temptations; thus freeing them to more effectively use whatever other spiritual gifts they have.
NOTE: The emphasis on the word “voluntary” in the title/description of these last two spiritual gifts! Where poverty or celibacy is forced or not a free choice, it is NOT a gift!
LEADERSHIP – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future, and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish them for the glory of God.
ADMINISTRATION – The special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to understand clearly the immediate and long-range goals of a particular part of the Body of Christ, and to devise and execute plans for the accomplishment of these goals.