“Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14a TEV)
You can’t earn your spiritual gifts or deserve them — that’s why they are called gifts!
They’re an expression of God’s grace to you: “Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us” (Ephesians 4:7 CEV).
Nor do you get to choose which gifts you’d like to have. Paul explains that God determines that “it is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT).
Because God loves variety, and he wants us to be special, there’s no one single gift given to everyone, and no individual receives all the gifts. If you had them all, you’d have no need of anyone else, and that would defeat one of God’s purposes — to teach us to depend on each other.
Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit.
The Bible says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT). When we use our gifts together, we all benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, you get cheated, but if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated. This is why God wants us to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.
Whenever we forget these basic truths about gifts, it always causes trouble in the church. Two common problems are “gift-envy” and “gift-projection.”
- The first occurs when we compare our gifts to others, feel dissatisfied with what God gave us, and become resentful or jealous of how God uses others.
- The second problem happens when you expect everyone else to have your gifts, do what you’re called to do, and feel as passionate about it as you do. The Bible says, “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:5 NLT).
Sometimes spiritual gifts are overemphasized to the neglect of the other factors that God uses to shape you for service. So keep in mind, your gifts reveal one part of God’s will for your ministry, but not all of it.
Talk It Over
- Why do you think God wants us to learn to depend on each other?
- What needs to change about the way you do ministry when you consider that your spiritual gifts are for the benefit of others and not yourself?
- Think of a time when you became discouraged because others were not as passionate about their ministry as you. How do you think God wants you to change your attitude?