What is the purpose of your spiritual gifts? Why are they important?

Paul wrote in his epistles that he wants the church to be aware of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1 NASB) and he wants them to be exercised accordingly (Romans 12:6).

Understanding and exercising spiritual gifts are one of the greatest ways we can actively participate in furthering and strengthening God’s kingdom.

Here are some of my thoughts from my own study on the topic of spiritual gifts.

What is the Purpose of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Your Spiritual Gifts

Here is a look at the what and why of spiritual gifts.

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…” – 1 Corinthians 12:7

Spiritual Gifts Are the Manifestations of the Spirit

Each one, or each believer, is given spiritual gifts. The word “manifestations” in the original language means “to make clear or visible, make known”.

Our spiritual gifts are the evidence of God’s abiding presence within us.  They are God’s way of empowering His people to accomplish His kingdom purposes.

There are three main verses that explain the purpose of spiritual gifts. I’m not going to go into what each one is in this post. I encourage you, though, to go look at these different passages and do your own study.

1 Corinthians 12-14
Ephesians 4:1-16
Romans 12:3-8

Spiritual Gifts Are for the Common Good

Spiritual gifts are meant to display the glory of God to unbelievers.

One of the best examples we see of this in the Bible is in Acts 2:1-42 on the day of Pentecost. Also, Paul mentions in his letter to Corinth that certain gifts are for a sign for unbelievers.  1 Corinthians 14:22-25 

Also, spiritual gifts are meant for building up the church to maturity in Christ.

Each of us has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to encourage, provoke and build up our brothers and sisters in the Lord until we reach the maturity of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16,  1 Corinthians 12:7

Misconceptions About Spiritual Gifts

There are many misconceptions about the purpose and exercise of spiritual gifts. So, let’s also consider what they are not.

Spiritual Gifts Are Not Your Talents

Remember that your spiritual gift is a manifestation of the indwelling Spirit. We do not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit until we become a believer in Christ. Talents are usually something we are born with. However, your spiritual gifts can work together with your talent.

Here’s an example: A woman can have a talent for singing. She can also have the gift of exhortation. She can use her gift of exhortation to encourage and inspire others to praise the Lord while she is using her talent for singing. Her spiritual gift is not ‘singing’.

Let’s take this one step further by looking at the next point…

Your Spiritual Gifts Are Not Your Ministry

“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord…” 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

Maybe this same woman leads worship at her church. Again, ‘worship leader’ is not her gift. This is a ministry role that she serves in. She uses her gift of exhortation with her talent for singing in her ministry of leading worship.

The same is true for you. Your gift is separate from your ministry in the church. A person with the gift of service can have many roles in the church. A person with the gift teaching can use that gift in the role of a Sunday School teacher; a one-on-one mentor; or even – a mother.

Your Spiritual Gifts Are Not Your Excuse

Ever hear someone say, “I can’t do that, it’s not my gift”?

Just because we have not been given the gift of service, doesn’t mean God will never call us to serve. Just because we don’t have a gift for teaching doesn’t mean God will never call us to teach.

We must be careful to not use our spiritual gifts as our excuse to not serve in other areas. Yes, I believe that God gives us certain gifts that He means us to function and thrive in to build up His church.

However,  I also believe He can and does call and equip us at different times and seasons to serve in other ways that may not appear to be according to our dominant gifts.

Spiritual Gifts Are Not for Your Choosing

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:11

The Holy Spirit gets to pick who gets which gifts; every person does not receive every spiritual gift. If that were the case we wouldn’t need each other.

Paul compares the church to a body. In order for a body to function as it should each part needs to work together with the others.  Each person (each part of the body) has its part to play. This forces us to depend on one another, work with one another, and honor one another.   1 Corinthians 12:12-31

How to Discern and Discover Your Gifts

If you are not sure which gifts you have been given I encourage you to take these steps to help you discern and discover your spiritual gifts.

  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you. I believe this is a prayer the Lord wants to answer. He tells us not to be unaware of our gifts and to exercise them accordingly. When we ask Him to show us our gifts, we are praying according to His will.
  • Study the different passages (listed above) of Scriptures that discuss Spiritual Gifts. God will honor and reveal His truth to those who diligently seek Him.
  • Ask another mature believer if they can help you. I’ve found this SO helpful. Sometimes it’s easier for another person to see the ways the Lord works through you and uses you than it is to see it ourselves.

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