“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware (1 Corinthians 12:1).
In parts 1 and 2, I made endeavored to convey God’s heart for the Church and how stagnant (unhealthy churches) are not pleasing to Him. In this post I want to look at the importance of each member of the Body of Christ discovering the spiritual gifts for the benefit of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual gifts are supernatural empowerment given by the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ so that they can do the work of building up the body of Christ, that is, the church, and extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world. The moment you become a Christian, God gave you a special supernatural ability called a spiritual gift to help fulfill the mission He gave the church to do. Every believer has one or more spiritual gifts.
God gives us spiritual gifts to benefit, edify and build the body of Christ. Christ, in His grace and sovereignty, distributes spiritual gifts to every member of the body of Christ as He wills. No one person possesses all the gifts. Each part of the body of Christ depends on the rest for its well-being. Every part is essential for the body to function fully. “And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]” (Eph. 4:11-13 Amplified Bible AMP).
We also see in I Corinthians 12 the importance of spiritual gifts operating in the church. “Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. 6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:4-7 AMP). “All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.” (I Cor.12: 11AMP).
Why the term dormant gifts? Merriam-Webster defines dormant in simple terms: “ temporarily devoid of external activity; temporarily in abeyance yet capable of being activated.” An individual’s spiritual gifts may be undiscovered or dormant for a long period of time. Can you imagine the possible number of undiscovered or dormant spiritual gifts just sitting in the church waiting to be unwrapped?
One of the greatest tragedies in life is to watch potential die untapped.”― Myles Munroe
Imagine how the Lord must feel giving gifts to His children and they never make the effort to find out what those gifts are, never thanking Him, and never putting them to use. It must be incredibly disappointing to see so many of the gifts dispersed by the Holy Spirit shelved away and never used or shared with others. Others will benefit and be built up as the spiritual gifts are exercised in the church and in our communities for the common good of all. If we fail to use or develop our gift other brothers and sisters in Christ will be deprived of the unique ministry that only you or I can perform. “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor]. Whoever speaks [to the congregation], is to do so as one who speaks the oracles (utterances, the very words) of God. Whoever serves [the congregation] is to do so as one who serves by the strength which God [abundantly] supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified [honored and magnified] through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4: 10 – 11 AMP).
How can we put an end to this unfortunate reality? In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 above, Paul tells you to unwrap your gift and use it to serve others. The Church is not a “one-man show.” Church is called to be a community of believers working together for the common good of all. No one person – not the Bishop nor Pastor – has all the gifts needed to oversee the Church. Teamwork is an essential part of God’s plan for ministry. In both the Old and New Testaments, we see teams of people working side-by-side to further His kingdom of God on earth. Jesus gathered a group of hand-picked disciples (men) who were considered ignorant and unlearned by the Pharisees, spent time with them, developed them, and then sent them out to minister in pairs. “Now Jesus called together the twelve [disciples] and gave them [the right to exercise] power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. Then He sent them out [on a brief journey] to preach the kingdom of God and to perform healing” (Luke 9:1-3 AMP). Teamwork accomplishes more.
“In a one-man show, a leader performs the up-front job, a few overworked people help in the background, and the crowd watches. Religious spectators are trained to sit—as if they have nothing useful to contribute. Yet the New Testament tells us the Holy Spirit gives every believer certain gifts, and we all are to use these gifts for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).” (Why Team Ministry Is-Better Than the One Man Show. Team Ministry, J. Lee Grady).
I came across a good definition of spiritual gifts from a Christian leader named Bruce Bugbee, founder and president of Network Ministries, who said: “Spiritual gifts are divine abilities distributed by the Holy Spirit to every believer according to God’s design and grace for the common good of the body of Christ” (“What You Do Best in the Body of Christ,” Bruce Bugbee, page 52).
What is important to realize is that when one person tries to do everything, it has the potential to do more harm than good, despite our best efforts. Some times I think we forget as ministry leaders our responsibility to encourage God’s flock to discover their gifts.
Often times church people are label as “pew warmers“, but there may be some who desire to serve and become frustrated, disappointed and confused because they would like to discover and use their gifts for the glory of God. I believe without the working of the spiritual gifts graciously given to us by the Holy Spirit, people are tossed to and fro seeking the Kingdom, yet unable to find it, which leaves them open and vulnerable to the deceitfulness of men and the world.
“So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit]. But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.” (Eph. 4: 11 – 16 AMP).
So how do we as the body of Christ put an end to this common trend? There is an urgent need for revival today. What is revival? A divine visitation that cannot be precipitated by human efforts, even though it can be blocked by our lack of caring about it or not seeking or praying for it can quench the Spirit and block it. We can personally experience it and be used by God to spread it. In the midst of the shaking my heart rejoices because “God is our refuge and strength, A very ready help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes And the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah There is a river whose streams make the city of God happy, The holy dwelling places of the Most High” (Psalm 46:1-4).
We are encouraged by 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14).
May the grace, joy, and peace of God be yours through Jesus Christ our loving Lord. To Him be glory, now and forever.
Minister Dr. A. Francine Green
All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.