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The Nature of Spiritual Gifts

September 20, 2011

The Nature of Spiritual Gifts Identifying our Spiritual gifts is a wonderful first step. Defining them is great. But what are these gifts of the Spirit? What is their nature? They are not talents, abilities, roles, or functions, but expressions of the power of the Holy Spirit, given by God, and the authority to use that power in building up of the body of Christ—fulfilling our mission—doing God’s will in the way that is best suited to who we are as unique and beloved individuals joined in community.

The power of the Holy Spirit is often characterized in the Old Testament as ruach, or breath, and as fire. It is the ruach that breathed life into the first earth creature (Genesis 2:7). It is ruach that guided the people of Israel through the wilderness toward the promised land (Exodus 13:21). It is ruach that comforted Elijah on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:12). And, in the New Testament, the rush of a mighty wind (pneuma in Greek) filled the house at Pentecost and settled as tongues of fire on the first believers, transforming their lives and the world (Acts 2:2-4).

That power, that breath, that spark of Holy fire, is revealed, or activated, in us as gifts of the Spirit or charismata—gifts of grace. They are within each of us waiting and ready to guide . . . and help . . . and hear . . . and care. We have, in our busyness, largely forgotten how to listen, how to find that spark. Much like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, we have just the gifts we need to fulfill our deepest desires and the world’s need, but we are not aware of them or lack confidence in their power.

We worship and work together in the church. But how well do we really know one another? What do we know of our own or each other’s deep passions in relation to God and the world?

Spiritual gifts discovery is a tool to help us begin hear the still, small voice, to be filled by the ruach, the breath of God, to find the spark of the Holy Spirit that will empower us to:

  • know ourselves and one another better
  • discern God’s will for our lives—where our deep passion and the world’s deep need intersect and move us to powerful ministry
  • prioritize our time and activities
  • learn to say no and yes appropriately
  • find the joy of living in God’s will

Discovery of our individual gifts is the first step in this process. One hot coal will not keep the fire going, and it will eventually cool and die. Our gifts must be linked in community. We need to journey together, talk about and share our gifts, celebrate together the glorious power of the Holy Spirit moving through us for the sake of the body of Christ and the hurting and hungry world.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Barry B permalink
    June 13, 2017 11:41 am

    Wonderful stuff 🙂

  2. July 23, 2017 7:04 pm

    Sister Barbara we don’t know much about one another side by side in worship each time when coming together. My thought is how can we come to know each deepest spiritual yearnings and gifteness when we can’t trust revealing common concerns? Something is terrible missing in most of our churches today. At times breaking ice is like chipping away at an iceberg which takes us away from spiritual things to carnal and limits our productivity.

    • August 11, 2017 1:30 pm

      I have found that the language of spiritual giftedness offers a wonderful gateway to conversation on all levels of being. Thanks for your comment.

  3. rayadorob permalink
    February 21, 2018 7:40 am

    I am curious as to assessing our spiritual gifts. The results of my Spiritual Gifts Inventory range from 9 (Wisdom, Shepherding) to 1 (Evangelism), with other gifts touching on all points in between. I realize that all gifts can come into play throughout our life, but is there a level (say 5 or 6) that signifies what we should focus on?

    • February 22, 2018 12:10 pm

      If you are referring to individual responses to statements in the inventory, we find that can be a distraction. Some people respond with mid-range numbers, and some with extremes. It is most beneficial to focus on the highest scoring gift or gifts. Pray with those and see where the Spirit speaks most clearly through your life. It can be very helpful to ask people who know you what they see in you as well. You are correct, that the Spirit moves in our lives using many of the gifts. However, we have found the greatest value in focusing on the one or two strongest. I hope this is a helpful response.

      • rayadorob permalink
        February 22, 2018 9:18 pm

        Thank you very much. Your comment “we have found the greatest value in focusing on the one or two strongest” is what I felt was the best way to proceed, Thank you again!

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