Recorded in Scripture are three lists of spiritual gifts, found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4.
They are spiritual gifts because they are God-given; part of our spiritual identity.
They are not external skills we develop in a natural sense, such as taking music lessons or learning how to play a sport. Certainly, those can become identifying factors; and yes, we can grow and excel in them.
Sometimes, what we develop as natural skills may be a reflection of or point to a spiritual counterpart – a redemptive gift God uniquely imparted to us out of His intentional wisdom and likeness. We have the sense that ‘this’ fits us; that it derives from within, not from outward pressure or cultural influence. Spiritual identity.
Likewise, there can be surprising discovery of something we never knew or thought we could do. We weren’t interested. Maybe we felt woefully inadequate. Perhaps such a thing never entered our mind.
A benefit of embracing our design for redemptive living is the joy that comes from recognizing God’s gifts to us.
Administering God’s grace in its various forms
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 following, different Greek words for gift are used as noted in parentheses below, on which the three lists of spiritual gifts are based –
There are different kinds of gifts (charisma – a divine gratuity, spiritual endowment),
but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service (diakonia – attendance as a servant, aid), but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working (energema – effect, operation, working),
but the same God works all of them in all men.
Now to each one the manifestation (phanerosis – to render apparent/appear, expression, show forth)
of the Spirit is given for the common good.
They are spiritual gifts of God’s choice distribution, not earned by us. As such, I Corinthians 12 is clear that the Three Persons of the Trinity are actively involved in the working out of these spiritual gifts in us.
Working out indicates that these gifts are different, in that they are internally placed within us by God – imprinted, as has been stated before. As He wills, He may weave together portions from all three lists.
It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
to prepare God’s 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.
Our responsive cooperation with the will of God in the working out of our design brings about transformation (Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit is present to teach us and help us develop skill in mastering the spiritual principles which, when woven together, produce blessings for redemptive living.
Scripture, in its perfect design, reveals a distinctive use and purpose for each of the three gifts lists.
For the purpose of identifying and learning the redemptive gifts of individuals, our focus will be Romans 12.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
If a man’s gift is prophesying,
let him use it in proportion to his faith.
If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage;
if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;
if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;
if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Because the redemptive gifts are a foundational part of our spiritual identity, it helps enormously to be aware of the pattern of seven in the Romans 12 passage, identified here as the following:
Prophet* │ Servant │ Teacher│ Exhorter │Giver │Ruler │ Mercy
To further enhance your understanding and add clarity, please see What Is a Redemptive Gift?
*The redemptive gift of prophet does not necessarily have the manifestation gift of prophecy listed in 1 Corinthians 12 or the office of prophet in Ephesians 4.
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