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Spirtual Gifts of Ministry
We spoke about the gifts of leadership last time, the gifts which God has given to the church, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Although God has given these gifts to all people, both men and women, God has restricted the use of some of these gifts in certain situations. I firmly believe that God tells us in the Bible that He wants men to be the leaders in the church. Although women are also given the gifts of leadership I believe that God restricts their use to a time when men are not present. I do not know why God said this but since it is in the Bible I will accept this as God knows best what works best in the church.
God has given many more gifts as we read in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 and 14. What kind of gifts does the Spirit of God give to his children. We will give a short definition of the gift and then some character qualities for us to help understand these gifts. Perhaps you have a piece of paper and pencil or pen. I would like you to write down one name beside each gift. Someone you know that might have this gift.
The first gift is the gift of Service. The gift of service is the ability to see the practical, physical needs of others and receives joy in providing personally to meet those needs. They want to help others in a practical way by fixing things, sharing food, helping to clean-up or set up for meetings.. These people use their skills to help others and thereby seek to witness to others. I came across an example of this story in the Daily Bread.
" A minister closed his sermon with a stirring call for people to come forward after preaching the gospel. Among those who responded was a woman of wealth and high social standing. She asked permission to speak a few words. "I want you to know just why I came forward tonight," she said. "It was not due to any word spoken by the preacher. I stand here because of the influence of the little woman who sits here before me. Her fingers are roughened by hard work and she is now bent over because of all that hard work. She is just an obscure laundry woman who has served in my home for many years. I have never known her to become impatient, to speak an unkind word, or to do anything dishonourable. I know of countless little acts of unselfish love that adorn her life. I'm ashamed to say it, but I have openly sneered at her faith. Yet when my little girl died, this woman helped me to look beyond the grave and to shed my first tears of hope. The gentle magnetism of her life has drawn me to Christ. I want what has made her life so beautiful." At the request of the pastor, the little woman was led forward, her eyes streaming with tears of joy. Addressing the congregation, the minister said, "Let me introduce you to the real preacher of the evening."
By serving faithfully this woman lead another person into the kingdom of God. This story points out also that the ultimate goal for using our gift is to lead others to Christ.
The gift of Giving is the alertness to see the financial needs of others and to use one's possessions for others. When we give, we do not think of the gain for ourselves. A person with the gift of giving manages his own money well so that he can give liberally to the Lord's work. This person is also very concerned that the funds given will be used well to honour God. A person with the gift of giving is not easily swayed by the urgent appeal of a man on TV or radio to give but a person with the gift of giving will seek out organizations which he can support because he knows that they will spend God's money wisely. A person with the gift of giving will give quietly and often insist that no one find out who he or she is. He will give to encourage and strengthen the church. Men like Mr LaTourneau or Mr. Stanley Tam have given 90% of their income to the Lord and lived on 10% of God's blessings.
The gift of Mercy is the ministry which is able, by genuine love, concern, and kindness, comfort and bring joy to the heart of the afflicted or the sick and to bring a genuine sense that he/she really cares. This person seems to have all the right words to encourage the sick or those who have just recently lost someone in the family. They are able to sense hurts when there is a lack of love and reach out to give the needed love at such times. These people enjoy visiting the hospital or the elderly in nursing homes. They have pleasure in visiting shut-ins or helping them in other ways. They often have a ministry of visiting people in prisons or helping the needy on the street or at a rescue mission. I admire people who have this gift and feel that I have much to learn from people who have this gift.
One thing which I believe is so important is that we understand people who have a gift from God that is different than ours. We can learn much from others.
There are a number of other gifts which Paul writes about in I Corinthians 12 : 8 - 10.
Verse 8 mentions two gifts, a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge.
A word of knowledge go through the Word of God and find a way to present it in a very systematic and understandable way. God has spoken what he wants men to know so we need to study the Bible very carefully to understand God's will. A person with the gift of knowledge is able to explain the scripture to open them up to our understanding. Some people believe that this word of knowledge is a special word from God much like a word of prophesy.
Wisdom is the application of knowledge to specific problems. Another definition of wisdom if being able to see other things from God's point of view." Wisdom is taking information from the scriptures and applying it to problems in everyday life. A person with this with be able to give a word of scripture to help understand a problem. People with this gift are good counsellors. The word of Wisdom and word of knowledge are often connected to people who have the gift of exhortation or the gift of teaching.
Paul says that there is a gift of faith. This gift allows us to continue to believe God in impossible circumstances and when others might have given up. All of us have a little faith but sometimes we don't use it or we do not even think that God can do a miracle. Another way to express this gift is by understanding that a person with this gift has the ability to plan ahead and sees that God can do great things. Some people can see an opportunity and because God has promised to help, they step out in faith trusting that God will work in a wonderful, miraculous way. Men like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor demonstrate the gift of faith.
The gift of healing is the ministry of restoring physical, social or emotional and spiritual health. The apostles had this gift as we read that Peter and John exercised this gift as they entered the temple one day and Peter healed a lame man ( Acts 3). God gives the ability to discern His will that a person be healed. This is the ability also to know how to talk to people to restore them to emotional and spiritual health.
The gift of miracles might be better translated, "energizing of powers." This means that a person with the gift of miracles would be able to release the power of God in unique and supernatural way. This may be raising people from the dead, casting out spirits, or seeing supernatural events happen. A person with the gift of miracles must be close communion with God and not want to display this gift openly.
The ministry of distinguishing between spirits is the ability to recognize evil spirits and demonic influence. This gift is important to the church so that false doctrine does not creep into the church. We know that Satan can appear even as an angel of light and deceive even the very elect. This gift from God is the ability to recognize when the truth is being spoken and when some people try to mix lies with the truth.
I will take the last two gifts are the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. In public worship these are only to be exercised together. If there is no one present who has received the gift of interpreting tongues the person with the gift of tongues is to remain silent. Whenever we read about this gift in Acts we see that others were present who could understand the words which were spoken.
God has given all of these gifts to the church to build it up and to help the gospel to spread. May God help us to grow, use the gifts which he has given to us and glorify Him. We should never feel that God has not blessed us if we do not have the gifts of leadership but use what God has given each of us so that no matter how insignificant a gift we possess that after we have done what we can for the Kingdom of God, God can turn to us in the judgement day and say "Well done thou good and faithful servant, Enter into my presence." That will be the greatest gift of all.
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Jan 14, 1996