Many authors go through the Bible and list every act of service or talent that God uses in a person and include it in their list of Spiritual gifts. Some have thirty or more “gifts” on their list. These include craftsmanship, music, singleness, missionary, suffering and others. But why stop there? Certainly God is a creative God and has used many talents today that were not around in the New Testament times. What about computer skills, recreation leader or Christian camping?
Although there are many talents and abilities that would fall into the wider use of the definition of spiritual gifts, this workbook examines the Pauline writings on the subject. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote the epistles and he set out to specifically write on the issue of Spiritual gifts. We want to examine his list of gifts.
So what about all the other talents, abilities and gifts that you and others may have? I would think that they would fall under Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1 to “present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.” We should present our bodies, mind, emotions, skills, talents, abilities, aspirations and possessions – all to God for His service.
You Are Wired With A Purpose
Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? How can I find significance? These questions are basic to our life experience. Knowing what ministries we were created for helps answer these questions. It is the compass that gives us direction in our journey. The Bible teaches that God has created us and knows us personally. Jesus illustrated this concept when He used the metaphor of the shepherd and his sheep. He said that the shepherd “called” each sheep by name. Isaiah writes about this in the Old Testament. The prophet writes:
Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.
Bring…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49:1, 6, 15 )
More specifically, the Bible teaches that God has created you and I with a purpose. This purpose is seen our ministry in life which was perfectly exemplified in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 22: 36 the Pharisees asked Jesus, what was the greatest commandment? Another way to say this is, “What is it that God wants us to do the most?” Jesus answered them saying:
Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus not only “said” these words, but we know from reading the New Testament that Jesus “lived” these words. Even better, God has made it possible for you and I to live them too! This is the miracle of Christianity; the fact that God can take you and I, who so often separate ourselves from Him, wanting nothing to do with His control in our life, and can bring us into a wonderful relationship with Himself. That is what Jesus is all about. His life was an example of our ministry and His death and resurrection was the bridge bringing us and God together. When we realize our need for God and come to Him in repentance and accept Him as our Savior we began our relationship with Christ. This is the first step in living out ministry. Jesus called it, “being born-again.” This is when we accept the new life that He has for us and His invitation to join Him in His work in this world.
The question is how do we live out this ministry that Jesus talked about? How do we “love God with all our heart, soul and mind and love our neighbor as ourself”? We do it by being aware of His presence in our life, the love He has for us, and the power that He wants to use in our life. This moves our heart, soul and mind into action. We then love our neighbor by serving God with everything we have and in everything we do. We have defined “ministry” as follows:
Ministry is to live with the awareness of the presence, love and power of the risen Christ; using our person, gifts and skills to serve Him in everything we do.
To Live With The Awareness Of The Presence, Love and Power of the Risen Christ
The first stage in our ministry in this life is to come into the awareness that we are living for God. Not just a god but the living God. What a difference. We are not living out some religious experience but are entered into a relationship with the risen Christ. So often we treat Jesus like some historic figure. We meet on Sundays to remember His death, we sing His praises for what He has done and then we go about our week as if His present risen-ness has no bearing on our lives. A very important part of our ministry in this world is to have a vital relationship with the risen Christ that influences every aspect of our life. This means to live our life in the realization that Jesus is alive. This realization should have a transforming power not only in our own psyche but in the very results of the ministry we are on. He is alive and the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is available for our ministry. Living every hour of every day in the conscious awareness of the love of Jesus gives hope and peace. This risen Jesus motivates, inspires, gives courage and leads us in the way we should go.
Using Our Person, Gifts and Skills
Using our person, gifts and skills for God is a deliberate choice. It is the result of the consideration of:
All that we are, living for all that He is, in light of all that needs to be done.
We ask ourselves, “What is my part?” “What is my role in this drama of life?” We find the answer when we come to the point where we believe that God has given us a unique combination of personality, interests, spiritual gifts and skills that we can use for Him.
There are so many factors that make us who we are. Not only the variables but the strength, size or amount of each of the variables makes a tremendous difference in the outcome of who we are. Change one element and the end result would be skewed. Here are some of the many components that make us who we are:
Genes, personality, temperament, chemistry, intelligence, birth order, physical abilities/limitations, aptitudes, and our spiritual gifts that God gives us
Parentage, siblings, relatives, social status, neighborhood, school, clubs, church, civic groups, sports, meaningful or tragic events in your life
Attitudes, beliefs, motivations, yearnings, ambitions, presuppositions and perceptions
There are many more components and many variations of each of them. All of these factors are important to who we are. When you take the variables, put them in different amounts and intensities, you can end up with an endless list of combinations. These combinations result in our giftedness.
I have always been interested in our similarity and uniqueness as human beings. Perhaps it is because I am an identical twin. I have been compared with my brother, Rod, all my life. This preoccupation with being a twin made me keenly aware of similarities and differences in individuals. As close and identical as my twin Rod and I are, as similar as our backgrounds are, we are still very different and unique individuals. We are gifted in different ways. I find great comfort in the fact that during all of my fifty some years God has never once confused me with my twin brother. I do not live out Rod’s ministry in life nor does he live out mine. God is personal to both of us. He created us as similar as any two people could ever be, and yet, I fulfill my everyday ministry through my own giftedness differently than Rod.
As part of our call and our ministry in life, God expects us to make the world a better place through our person, gifts and skills. Paul wrote it this way to the Christians at Ephesus:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
We are His workmanship! When an artisan sits at a lump of clay, he or she decides what they want to make and it becomes that very thing right before their eyes. How much more our great and loving God stopped and thought about you and I and then purposely created us for specific good works. Not massed produced, we are His workmanship! We are a unique one-of-a-kind ambassador for God to use in this world. As we respond to life with our unique personage, as we hone in on our ministry preferences and become more proficient with the skills, abilities and resources that God has given us, we will be living out our unique ministries in this life for God.
Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? If not, CLICK HERE to download our FREE Spiritual Gifts Workbook and Test.
Do you want to know how to use your gifts and talents for His service? If so, CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?