Sometimes I get asked why I have spent so much of my ministry encouraging people to discover and use their spiritual gifts. It seems like such a small topic within the great scope of the Christian faith. And it’s true, it does seem that way. But I want to offer you a few simple reasons for individuals and church leaders as to why this particular subject is so important for the church.
1. Spiritual gifts are gifts from God Himself
This may sound fairly obvious, but it is an important point to make. The Bible says that every Christian is given a spiritual gift, distributed by the Holy Spirit according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:11). If we fail or refuse to discover what gifts we have, we essentially reject them and all the blessings and work God has for us in them. As leaders we are to help those in our care “open” these gifts in appreciation for what God has given and in anticipation of what He has in store for us.
2. We are commanded to use our gifts
When God gives gifts, He expects us to receive them, open them up and use them (1 Peter 4:10). He does nothing flippantly or without purpose. From eternity past He has had a plan and a design, and we are all a part of it. As such we are never to neglect the gifts we have, but instead we are to stir them up and grow in them (1 Timothy 4:14-15). Like the Apostle Paul in this passage, all leaders are to exhort and encourage believers to serve in their gifts in obedience to the calling which God has placed on their life. We are to encourage believers in their gifts to set examples for others in the church and to be a blessing to them at the same time.
3. Our gifts help us fulfill the Greatest Commandment
The greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is like it: to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:29-31) When we serve God, His people and the lost, we are in fact loving God and our neighbors. Faith is always connected to obedience and when we, by faith, act in obedience to serve God and our neighbor, we demonstrate our love for both. Love is not a mere feeling, it is an action and is best expressed when we exercise our gifts in service to God and others. James said faith without works is dead. The same could be said about love. (James 2:14-17)
4. Our gifts help us fulfill the Great Commission
Of course they do! Without apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11), how could the church have been established? How could we ever reach the lost and make disciples? How could we baptize them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and how could we teach them all that Jesus has commanded? Without those with the gift of mercy we would never reach some people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the givers how many ministries or missions would go unfunded? Believer, without you what goes undone in your church? The mission statement of every church should simply be Matthew 28:18-20 or a close paraphrase of the Great Commission. This is why the church exists and a large part of why spiritual gifts exist in the church. Leaders, can we expect our churches to function and fulfill our highest calling without knowing how people are gifted and then encouraging them to serve in the proper ministries?
5. Our gifts build up the body of Christ and glorify God
We need each other. Plain and simple this is how God has designed His church. This is how Jesus is building His church. This is why the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people in the church. God has put us all together to allow us to bless each other, build each other up, challenge each other, love each other and thus glorify God in heaven. Jesus wants His bride to be ready when He returns for her. To use another picture from Scripture, He wants His body to be fully mature and built up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16 gives us this perfect picture of the church working together in the purpose of Christ. Peter also exhorts us in 1 Peter 4:10-11 to use our gifts in service to one another, as stewards of God’s grace, in HIS power, so that in all things God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Of course there are more than just 5 reasons to know our spiritual gifts, but hopefully this list will get you thinking about their importance in your own life and in the life of the church.
To learn more about spiritual gifts, I have created a 7-week Bible study DVD series called Gifted by Grace: An Intruduction to The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts available at SpiritualGiftsTest.com.
Leaders, if you are serious about assessing and helping your church members grow in their gifts, check out our Spiritual Gifts Profiler here. This is an amazing tool to help you get started.
Thanks for reading. There’s more to come!