In 1 Corinthians 12:1 the apostle Paul says: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”
The word “ignorant” in this verse doesn’t mean “unintelligent” or “naïve.” What Paul is saying is that if we are uninformed about spiritual gifts we will miss out on the wonderful gifts that God has given us.
I grew up in a church that never mentioned spiritual gifts. I didn’t even know about spiritual gifts until years later when I went to college and we talked about them in a class. Then the lights went on and I had one of those Ah-ha moments. Like Really? You mean God specifically wired me with gifts that I need to use for His glory? That’s why I enjoy teaching so much. That’s why I talk to so many people about how to deepen their faith. Before becoming a Christian I can’t remember wanting to teach anything but after coming to Christ I was always jacked up to share my faith and teach others how to grow in theirs.
Spiritual gifts are special God-given abilities that are given to every believer at conversion by the Holy Spirit to share his love and to strengthen the body of Christ. Peter writes: "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” 1 Peter 4:10.
When this verse talks about faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms, the forms it is speaking of are for example, caring for children, mowing the church lawn, visiting the elderly, or caring for the poor. God will never call you to something without equipping you to accomplish it. One of the ways he equips you is by giving you spiritual gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
The spiritual gifts that God gives are not for you or about you. God doesn’t give them to you to boost your self-image or so you can use them for selfish gain. God doesn’t give you spiritual gifts so that you can achieve worldwide fame or wealth, he gives you spiritual gifts to use for his glory and to advance his purposes.
In Ephesians 4:11-13 Paul writes: "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.”
Why does God give spiritual gifts to his people? To prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body (the church) may be built up and become mature. God gives spiritual gifts to every believer, not just some of them. There are no special qualifications you need to have to receive a spiritual gift, you don’t have to be a Christian for any specified length of time. If you are a believer in Christ, then the Holy Spirit is in you and you have spiritual gifts that God has given you to help make disciples, to help people see the love of Christ, and to serve others for the glory of God.
You may not have discovered the gifts you have but you definitely have them. God gave them to you and now it is up to you to unpack them and use them to build his church by making disciples. When you do what God has gifted you to do people are helped, God is glorified, and you feel completely fulfilled.
Now you are probably wondering how you can discover your spiritual gifts. First, take a spiritual gifts assessment. This website is a great place to start if you don’t know your gifts. Take the assessment and it will help you see the gifts you have. Second, start serving in various roles to see which ones bring you the greatest fulfillment for you and the greatest results for God.
As you hone in on how God has gifted you, it will be an amazing discovery and help you see how God has shaped you and uniquely enabled you to be fit for ministry. Once you step into your gifts it feels awesome and you will feel closer than ever to God because you are doing what he designed you to do.
At Freshwater we like to use the acronym S.H.A.P.E. to help us serve in the area that will make the biggest kingdom difference and help us to feel the most fulfilled. This is what SHAPE stands for.
Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share his love and serve others.
Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth. Your heart leads you to use your spiritual gifts in specific areas, whether it’s local missions, global missions, caring for children, making the church building look great, or some other area. Every believer needs to follow their heart and use their spiritual gifts in the area they are passionate about.
Abilities: The set of talents that God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him. God gives us spiritual gifts, a heart for a specific ministry, and natural abilities that we can also use to glorify him.
Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique kingdom purpose. Find a team that you feel comfortable with, have a heart for, and can use your spiritual gifts to make a difference.
Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways. Your personal experiences will help you to find the best place to use your gifting.
The most fulfilled and effective people in life are those who are living in their God given area of strength. They know their God given S.H.A.P.E. and use it to help make disciples. You can be one of those people if you know your own S.H.A.P.E. and are willing to be used by God to raise the spiritual climate of the community.
At Freshwater, we believe that every member has a ministry and is called to serve in some area. Connect with a ministry leader or pastor today to get involved. You will not regret it. True fulfillment in life comes when God’s people use God’s gifts to build God’s kingdom as a team for His glory. I look forward to seeing what God does through you!