The Purpose of Other Spiritual Gifts within the Church

In addition to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as performing miracles and healing, GOD has also given numerous non-supernatural, or “natural” (i.e., non-miraculous), gifts within the church.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, saying:

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
(1 Cor. 12:27-31 NIV)

Similarly, Paul wrote the following to Christians in Rome:

4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
(Rom. 12:4-8 NIV)

Between these two Scriptures, we have several examples of gifts that GOD has given to people within the church that people wouldn’t look at and think, “Wow! That’s amazing! No human could do that without GOD’s power.”

I call those wow-inspiring gifts supernatural because they don’t happen every day in nature.

It isn’t common to see people heal the lame or blind or raise the dead on a daily basis as we travel around.

If someone saw that happen today—for real, not faking—they’d be amazed.

By contrast, these “natural” gifts are things we see periodically with people.

And, it is my personal belief that these abilities listed in Scripture aren’t an exhaustive list.

They are examples of the types of gifts GOD gives people within the church.

Unlike some of the supernatural gifts, I’m convinced that GOD still frequently blesses Christians with certain “natural” gifts and abilities today.

In one sense, this is like saying, “Everybody is good at something.”

But, where did that ability come from? It came from GOD.

James wrote:

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(Jam. 1:16-17 NIV)

Some Christians seem to be natural encouragers; others, natural servants.

Some have excellent leadership ability.

Many of these abilities seem to come easy to those who excel in them, whereas, for those of us who lack those specific abilities, to accomplish some of the same things appears to us as difficult a task as climbing Mount Everest.

If we back away from this supernatural/natural discussion, what is the point (the big picture) of all of this?

It goes back to the overall purpose of the church.

In life, we are going to face situations where different skills and abilities are needed.

GOD’s design is to gift people with a subset of abilities that enables them to contribute and be useful, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, where the situation calls for it.

All of this is to help us depend upon one another, trust one another more, and share life with one another all in an effort to love one another like Jesus loves us.

And all of that is for the purpose of helping to change and grow us individually to be more like Jesus, which is GOD’s ultimate desire for each human.

Someone asks, “But, how do I determine what my gifts or abilities are?”

For years I struggled with this. Sometimes I still struggle with it.

I’ve previously written about the dangers of comparing ourselves with one another—looking at another’s abilities with envy, wishing we could do the same thing and feeling belittled because we lack the desired skill or talent.

If we’re honest, every person has something they are good at—some gift, ability, or talent that they naturally gravitate to or excel at. It really isn’t that difficult, for most of us, to realize those things we do well.

The challenge, in many churches (assemblies; biblical definition intended), is to recognize where and how we can use our skills and abilities for GOD’s glory or to encourage the brethren.

If you are struggling to discover where you “fit” within the LORD’s body—what “body part” you are, to use the biblical analogy—pray diligently for GOD to show you.

Prepare yourself to wait upon Him and to allow Him to answer in His time.

He wants you to be as useful as you can possibly be for the success of the entire body of Christ, so He will show you where you need to apply your abilities and talents. When He shows you, you must have the faith required to trust Him and follow where He leads, regardless of where that may be.

Lastly, remember that life is full of seasons, and GOD often uses us in certain ways for a season, and once that seaons has transitioned, it is time to move on.

Thus, life is a continued struggle of trying to find how to best give ourselves to GOD and serve within the kingdom.

Have you discovered the gift(s) GOD has given you to serve the church? Was it difficult to discover for you?


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