What Are Spiritual Gifts?

Dean’s parents had died when he was young. He grew up in different towns, passed from foster family to foster family. When he was in college, Dean shared a room with another student named Luke.

When Christmas break came, Luke invited Dean to stay with his family for the holidays. Luke’s family warmly welcomed Dean into their lives. They asked him to help trim the tree, hang Christmas lights, and learn the family’s secret egg nog recipe.

But it was Luke’s grandma, Alice that Dean felt the strongest connection to. The older woman recognized that Dean was hungry for spiritual truths and she began loaning him books about God from her extensive library.

As Dean became a believer, he spent hours with Alice, discussing spiritual matters. One day, he asked her about spiritual gifts. “What are they? Do only some Christians get these gifts? I don’t think I have one.”

Alice smiled and pulled a picture of her family from the wall. “Do you see how some of my grandchildren have blue eyes like me? Others don’t have my eye color but they have my nose or my chin. Just as I passed on a part of myself to the next generation, God does the same. It’s like spiritual DNA.”

The older woman went on to share the three key reasons that God gives spiritual gifts to His children…

To Honor God

The primary purpose of spiritual gifts is to use them in a way that brings God glory. With some spiritual gifts, honoring God may seem obvious. For example, if you’re gifted with an ability to teach, you may already be using this gift by leading Sunday school classes.

But some gifts may not have a corresponding ministry. An example of this would be the gift of wisdom. You may not realize it but others may already rely on your wisdom, even if you aren’t in a formal position. Your friends and family may stop in the middle of a discussion to turn to you and ask, “What do you think about this topic? How should I handle this situation?”

When you speak wisdom over loved ones and other Christians, you are honoring God. So don’t be discouraged if you feel like you don’t have a gift or worry that you’re not using it.

To Help One Another

Not only do your spiritual gifts bring honor to God, they can also be useful for helping others. Perhaps you’ve been given the gift of prophecy. You may be able to discern events and situations before they happen. You may also be able to explain signs and wonders that others cannot.

One Biblical example of the gift of prophecy was Joseph. When he heard Pharaoh’s dream, he was able to share what it meant. He also advised a course of action that would preserve both the Egyptians and the Israelites.

When God gives you a spiritual gift, He wants you to share it with those around you. Sometimes, God will even move you into a situation where your gifts are needed, much like He did with Joseph.

To Grow Closer to God

Eric Liddell, an Olympic runner, once said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Many Christians feel closest to God when they are using the gifts He gave them. If God has given you the gift of exhortation, you might sense God’s presence when you’re encouraging a friend who feels overwhelmed. If your gift is the gift of knowledge, then you might enjoy God’s presence while learning a new concept.

Spiritual gifts are blessings from God to be used for His glory, the help of others, and as a way to grow closer to God. If you’re not sure which spiritual gifts God has given you, then take the free Spiritual Gifts Survey from Church Growth.

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