Unwrapping Spiritual Gifts

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I was shocked when he said it. I wanted to wrap my arms around those spiritual gifts as if the Grinch was prying them from my fingers. The same spiritual gifts, upon taking the test, I felt disgruntled with, I now wanted to guard. Discernment, Faith, and Knowledge…. why couldn’t I have leadership or prophesy something strong and useful I wondered back then, but years later, I wrapped those gifts in gleaming paper all about myself. Those gifts were a part of who God made me to be, and now a pastor claimed spiritual gift testing was a bunch of bologna. 

I raised my chin a notch and pounded him with questions, but he refused to be speared into a debate. Instead, he peered over the rim of his glasses, “Tammy, I recommend you pray about it. Ask the Father yourself and read the Word, God will show you.”

I left that weekend retreat feeling unwrapped, frayed, and insecure. What was my role now? Who was I in the Kingdom work if I wasn’t God’s discernment, faith, and knowledge girl? He needed me doggone it! I was having an identity crisis!

I’ll be honest, when I returned home, I didn’t read everything on Spiritual Gifts. I prayed about it once…maybe twice. I read I Corinthians 12 several times, but had no clarity. I was reluctant to give up my belief on the subject, but God is faithful. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 English Standard Version) I made the first move, so God brought the answers. In sermons, Bible studies, and quite times He peeled away my determination in holding onto what I thought was mine.

In Acts, I found the disciples on the Day of Pentecost speaking in tongues unfamiliar to them. Suddenly, they were all given a gift that could not be attributed to their individual personalities or skill sets. 

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirt gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together and they were bewildered because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?’’’ (Acts 2:4-8, ESV) 

In scrutinizing the Spiritual Gifts test, all the questions are based on what a person is inclined to do. Well, if we are inclined to respond in a particular way isn’t that more our personality than the supernatural power of God working through us? I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt God’s power the most when I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Spiritual gifts and our nature do not go hand in hand, for it is in our weaknesses, that God’s power is illuminated. It is in our without that God pours power within. Why must we try to box and wrap up specific gifts as if we are claiming them as our own? Having to know what gifts you have beforehand in order to do the work, reveals a lack of faith. Stepping out in faith, is stepping out each day willing to allow God to lead and supply.

Throughout the Bible, there are several people that have helped me release my grip. First, Peter, he was a fisherman, sunburned and brutish in nature. He became a disciple of Christ, received the Holy Spirit, and became the rock on which the church was built. If we took the Spiritual Gifts test on his behalf according to the book of Acts alone, he would have scored high in all the gifts. Is it possible, we receive the gift when we receive the assignment? And just maybe, the gift is only present for the time in which we need it. It is not ours to claim. 

Secondly, Paul describes a weakness as a thorn in his side. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul found his strength and security in the Holy Spirit, not in spiritual gifts. 

Remember Moses panicked when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites? (Exodus 6-7) Moses claimed he didn’t have the gift of voice, while God explained He would give him the words, for He made his mouth. Though God allowed Aaron to accompany him, it was Moses who did the speaking, as the Holy Spirit gave him the gift for that due time. If Moses would have taken the spiritual gifts test, he would have scored low on speaking, because it wasn’t a skill he was inclined to use.

On and on, we see spiritual gifts used throughout the Bible by followers of Christ, but not once do we see the gifts assigned. Jesus never told the disciples which gifts they had to use towards building the church. The Holy Spirit equipped them as God presented the task.

Now, that I have released ownership, I can clearly surmise the pitfalls in Spiritual Gift testing.

  1. We could decline work God is calling us to do, because we scored low on the spiritual gift required to accomplish the task presented to us. 
  2. We could volunteer for work God has not called us to do because it fits with our spiritual gift.
  3. We could become prideful as we claim ownership of a particular gift, and feel that gift is superior in the church.
  4. We are categorizing and limiting the gifts of the Holy Spirit to a list on a test.
  5. We are not putting faith in God to reveal in due time what gifts He bestows on us.
  6. There is a tendency to answer the test biased in the way we see ourselves, rather than the way we truly are.
  7. A non-believer could take the test, and the test would assign a spiritual gift to that person.
  8. The test negates the power of the Holy Spirit in us, as we are answering the questions by our inclinations/personality.
  9. This test can be viewed as humanistic and more of a morale booster.
  10. The test is self-focused, not God focused.

My brother- in- law once said, “Spiritual Gifts test, puts God in a neat little box, why would we want to do that?” God unwrapped my belief system and opening it up to true power through the Holy Spirit.  I know now, it not only put God in a box, but puts His believers in one too. It limits us and what power we can experience through the Holy Spirit, what work we can accomplish for the glory of God. Any tool that is self-focused or places limitations on us as believers is a tool I’m not willing to give credence to. 

Yes, I’m no longer God’s discernment, faith, and knowledge girl, I am His “whatever He wants me to be” girl. How about you?

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FaithTammy Adams