Do you ever try to do something because someone else does it, but you bomb? How about doing a special music number at church, but people politely avoid you after the service? Sometimes, we want so badly to be like someone we aren't. As a young adult, I admired the people who sang for special music in worship or the choir. I can sing, but certainly not the well enough to sing solos.I wasn't specially gifted like that. Sometimes, listening to missionaries speak about their ministries overseas, I wondered what it would be like to be a missionary. Instead, my gifts and talents support teaching the Bible with other gifts and talents which God has used so many ways. Do you try to do something and feel like you don't fit in? Do you wish God gifted and talented you to be like someone else?The good news is God has something better in store because He created you and gifted you uniquely. Yes, you fit, but you need to find out where you fit in.
There seemed to be some confusion in the Corinthian church. They were primarily Gentiles who worshipped idols before becoming Christians. There were some arguments causing division. Since they came into the church with a different background than the Jews who became Christians, they needed to learn what it meant to be a church. Paul set out to clarify important points to help them. Evidently some wanted to be recognized by having certain spiritual gifts,such as the those which brought greater recognition and attention like speaking in tongues, teaching, preaching, healing, miracles, and the like. Paul explained the different gifts, their source, and purpose. The difficulty for them is understanding the difference between worshipping mute idols who can do nothing and the Living God who works by His Holy Spirit in them and others around them. Since no one is like anyone else, God differentiates the ministries within the church's individual members: " But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." verse 11. The understanding is that God has a purpose for each person in the church body to fit into it so that there is unity. The spiritual gifts are to be used for the purpose of building each other up in their faith. This diversity was designed to unify, not divide. God has a place for each one to serve so let each one serve well with the spiritual gifts He has given.
Misuse and Abuse of Gifts
When sign gifts are mishandled, they are an annoyance and cause confusion. Those who do so dishonor God while negatively affecting the ministry of the church. Our martial arts instructor, as well-intentioned as he was, believed he spoke in tongues. It was distracting and sounded like something he made up.You may or may not believe sign gifts are in effect today. It is a common thought among some denominations, but not all. My husband and I were skeptical about sign gifts then, until we were at an awards banquet with our karate group at his church. Two men who never met each before came up when a man asked for prayer for healing. Each one stood on each side of him while our instructor stood behind the man then they laid hands on him for healing. One of the men began speaking in tongues while the other began interpreting, and our instructor did his guttural utterances. It stood out to us that the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation were being used in front of us by the two men who had never met!
Another instance was a time we were being commissioned to go out to perform an evangelistic martial arts demonstration. We were all lined up in front of the altar of his church where karate classes were held. His pastor prayed over us. Then some people came up, laid hands on us, and began praying-- in tongues! It was beautiful, sounding almost like rushing water. It wasn't like the sound of a kid banging on the piano or clanging symbols. It was then we felt confirmed that spiritual gift was valid and our instructor simply needed to stop trying to speak in tongues! When they are not our gifts, we obstruct the ministry God has given someone else.
When spiritual gifts are misused, they bring attention to self, not God. Misuse causes division because the attitude is, "Look at me!" Those whose ministries are stifled are either suppressed by being made to feel unwanted or oppressed by domineering people. A man in my Sunday School class was the key problem person in our first church. He believed he was THE spiritual leader of that church. One Sunday, when I was teaching about Moses and Aaron, he likened himself Aaron because he believed he was a the true spiritual leader of Israel, the spokesman for God! The interesting thing was that Aaron was not the spiritual leader for Israel, Moses was. He was simply the mouthpiece through which Moses spoke God's word to Israel. I promptly corrected him by pointing out what God said to Moses in Exodus 4:13-15 then showed how God put this into practice every time God brought Moses before Pharaoh's court. The spiritual leader of the church is the pastor with the ministry of the elders of the church.This man was neither a spokesman for God, nor the pastor or elder! He and his wife cause so much trouble for the church and for us. The attendance of the church already in decline, split. We had to leave as a result of his abuse.The misuse of spiritual gifts causes damage because the focus is on one's self.
Spiritual gifts are not always to be used in public, in fact, they are commonly used to minister to the needs of others. People who are givers, often give secretly for the benefit of individuals in the time of need. A woman in the last church my first husband served as pastor was a generous, joyful giver. The interesting fact was she was poor. When some money or something she had was needed by someone else, it was always the right amount or right thing for the person in need.She felt God always provided for her and she never lacked anything as a result of giving.
People who pray for others, usually pray for hours for healing or other individuals needs, but are also spiritual shield bearers for those in ministry. A pastor's wife with the spiritual gift of intercession was a shield bearer for our ministry at a church in renewal. Amazing things happened for us on our behalf as a result of her ministry of prayer.
Those with the spiritual gifts of discernment and knowledge, commonly combined, bring insight or a word from the Lord to an individual or small group of people.A woman in my Bible Basics class was having a lot of struggles and stresses. As my class ended, she came up to me to tell me what was happening and asked for prayer. Although the time was inconvenient, I sat down with her to listen. She said she was putting gas in her car one morning, pondering her struggles, when she heard the Lord tell her He had a gift for her. She was afraid to "open it" in her mind because she was afraid she would lose it. So she kept that mental image of a gift wrapped up neatly. As she spoke, I heard the Lord tell me, "Tell her to open the gift. the gift is JOY." So I told her what He was telling me at that moment. She suddenly lit up! She took her folded hands, opened them up and began smiling and laughing! She was experiencing the JOY God had given her. Many gifts are used privately to build up the faith of others.
Gifts used corporately as a church keep the ministries of the church flowing and growing. Preaching, administration, teaching, helps, and many others function and flow every week. We were always amazed how God would give my husband His message for a given Sunday and the Sunday School lesson meshed with it, even though no one coordinated the topic. This happened often! God brought the message and lessons together for us. The church was clean, presentable and orderly. No one realized the importance of something like a light bulb being changed or the toilets being cleaned meant much until the responsible person was.These spiritual gifts often go unrecognized and are under appreciated, yet are some of the most important gifts.
God has uniquely created you. He has specially gifted and talented you (Psalm 139:1-6, 17-18, 23-24) for His glory and the blessing of others (Romans 12:1-8). When you use what He has given you, you will be passionate about those areas of ministry in your life. As you minister to others, your faith and the faith of others, will be strengthened. You will be amazed at what God has in store for your life (Jeremiah 29:11-12)! Use the what God has given you to glorify God, fully fitting into the body of Christ!
May God bless you!
A very comprehensive spiritual gifts test by C. Peter Wagner http://www.christianbook.com/finding-spiritual-gifts-updated-expanded-edition/c-wagner/9780800797409/pd/797403?event=ESRCQ
Online Spiritual Gifts Tests