I want to make a difference in the world.”
And I am not that special for saying that. Most of us want to leave an imprint on the world that makes it better. Sure, maybe our ambitions are vastly different. Some of us dream of influencing the WHOLE world while some of us see OUR world as the people we aim to influence. Nevertheless, all of us want to make a good difference. And that’s a good thing! God wants that for us too.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)
It is not unique to Christianity to talk about the ways in which we are wired. Whether we are talking about our innate personality, our cultivated talents, or our developing passions, we all are interested in seeing how we can make a difference in the world.
“God never wastes anything. He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended to use them for his glory.” – Rick Warren
Yet there is a difference between all of those things and the ways in which we are spiritually gifted.
You are not just talented, you are spiritually gifted. Gifted by the capital “S” Spirit.
Look at what Paul says.
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed… 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, r and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11, NIV)
We are not talking about “spiritual” as some nebulous, impersonal energy. Rather, spiritual gifts come exclusively from the Holy Spirit. He is the source and sustenance of spiritual gifts. Having the Holy Spirit is a necessary prerequisite to unleashing our spiritual gifts.
Each of us is purposed to make a contribution in this life that echoes into eternity. This means that we each have an assignment, and we each need to see and accept that assignment if we are going to fulfill the calling of our lives. You and I can talk circles around purpose all day, but at the end of the day there is something crucial to understand.
We are united in purpose and unique in calling.
There is unity in our singular purpose to glorify God and enjoy him forever (shoutout to the credible Westminster Catechism). We are teammates, working together to enact God’s plan of redemption in the world. Yet, we are unique in our calling. Our calling is the unique way in which God has wired us, equipped us, and assigned us to contribute to and advance his kingdom. This is not limited to our spiritual gifts, but it certainly includes them! And even in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is not exhausting all the spiritual gifts, but using a few as an example to serve his point about how the body of Christ (you, me, we) works together.
“For those who lead and have a tendency toward pride and self-sufficiency, it may be humbling to know that God wants them to depend on and be built up by others with different gifts. For others, though, this will mean accepting what God has given them and then living and working in the community for the benefit of the body, knowing that this is their God-given and Spirit-enabled duty to the body. Just as there is no place for pride, so there is no place for false humility.” (Paul Gardner, 1 Corinthians, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 554.)
Our spiritual gifts are an essential part of our contribution to the kingdom of God. They are one of the primary ways the gospel works itself in our lives as we serve others. But how can we walk in them if we are not aware of them?
We need to know our Holy Spirit-given gifts if we want to walk in our full purpose and potential.
Here are four action steps to take from here.
- First, take our spiritual gifts test by clicking HERE. It is not infallible, but it is a good tool to help you consider how God’s empowering presence (Holy Spirit) wants to work in and through you.
- Second, talk to some other Christians who you respect and who know you well. Ask them what spiritual gifts they see in you. Do not underestimate how someone else can see in you what you might not see in yourself!
- Third, study biblical passages on these things. You may have noticed we did not unpack the spiritual gifts in this blog post. It would take quite some time to do so! Plus, let’s give you some homework and ownership here. Pick up some commentaries on 1 Corinthians and read how scholars shed light on what Paul is saying about spiritual gifts (especially 1 Corinthians 12-14). The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on 1 Corinthians is phenomenal, though at times it can be geared toward an academic audience. If you need a more lay-level commentary try the NIV Application Commentary on 1 Corinthians or 1 Corinthians For You.
- Fourth, but not least, put your spiritual gifts into practice!
The Holy Spirit does not give you these gifts for them to be like a trophy on a shelf. They are meant to be used for the sake of others!
As we read what Paul said:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7, NIV)
You want to make a difference in the world, right? Learn and use your spiritual gifts!