What are Spiritual Gifts?
Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the common good of the Body of Christ and for service. These gifts are necessary because mere human ability is inadequate to do the work of the LORD. Spiritual gifts help the church to grow and to remain healthy. The gifts of the Holy Spirit can either be supernatural or natural abilities, however when our natural abilities are directed by the Spirit of God they move beyond mere human talent. The gifts can be summed up into three (3) categories, namely; manifestation, motivational and ministry gifts.
These are supernatural demonstrations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul mentioned them in His letter to the church in Corinth:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,and to still another the interpretation of tongues.All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Cor. 12:4-11)
As the name suggests, these are gifts that motivate the Body and shape how the believers view life and relate to each other. These include prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting/encouraging, giving, administration and mercy . When these gifts are encouraged and developed, they have an amazing impact on catapulting the Body of Messiah from one level to another.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-10)
Ministry gifts or Offices are actual leadership functions that Yeshua (Jesus) himself gave to the Church. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:11-13)
These offices exist to edify, build up and equip the Body of Christ for service and to bring us to unity and maturity IN Christ. These offices are not by human desire or man’s appointment. One must be called by God to function in an office.
Oftentimes, the lines are blurred because there are actually spiritual gifts that are similar to these functions, however, it does not mean that one is called to hold an office of leadership. Case in point; an individual can have the gift of prophecy but that does not mean that the individual is a Prophet. Anyone can prophesy, but not everyone who prophesy is a Prophet. It is the same thing with the gift of teaching; not everyone who teaches is called to the office of the Teacher.
Ministry gifts are to be confirmed by the laying on of hands or ordination. While many object to this practice in the the modern-day Church, it is actually biblical and follows the pattern laid out by the early Church. Yes, it is God who calls us to ministry offices but the leaders (and by extension the church) have a role to play. In the Book of Acts we see Paul and Barnabas both being commissioned as Apostles by the leaders in the church, albeit that it was the Holy Spirit who had set them apart for service (Acts 13:1-3). The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the elders” (I Timothy 4:14). There is much that needs to be taught about the five fold ministry, but we will delve deeper into that at another time.
Are You Embracing Your Spiritual Gifts?
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Cor 12:27-31)
The Apostle Paul teaches us to “eagerly desire the greater gifts”(1 Cor. 12:31). However, I do not believe that the Apostle was suggesting that some gifts are of less importance. It could be that some gifts are considered “greater/higher” because they are of a supernatural nature, and the fact that they benefit the Body in corporate worship. However, there are Spirit led natural abilities (lesser gifts) and we need to encourage that those be nurtured and developed, knowing that they are unique, valuable, and necessary in the Body of Christ. Remember, "lesser" does not mean in rank or importance, just that they are of the natural realm while the greater gifts, according to the Apostle Paul are of the spiritual realm (at least that is my understanding).
There are some gifts that will probably never take you on a platform and you will probably never see your name in lights but they were given to the Body so that we can be strong and healthy, and for the advancement of His Kingdom. The Body of Christ needs those who will serve, give, organize, encourage, motivate, teach, sing, act, write, people who are technology driven - you get the picture! It is time for the builders of the wall to arise with their various talents and abilities! Revisit Nehemiah 3, everyone got involved in the rebuilding exercise; priests, elders, perfume makers,aristocrats, women - everyone!
Finally, let us always remember that with all of our spiritual gifts and calling, “Love is the more excellent way” (1 Cor. 13:1-13)