You’ve probably heard of the Meyers-Briggs personality test. It’s a personality test (who would have guessed?) that assigns people one of sixteen different personality types. Meyers-Briggs has become wildly popular and is used in everything from dating apps to Bible schools to businesses.
I’m guessing that you’ve also heard of spiritual gifts and have maybe even taken a spiritual gifts test. Somehow, maybe due to the format of tests and the way they are often discussed, spiritual gifts often end up seeming like spiritualized personality traits. But is this the right way to think about them? Are spiritual gifts just Meyers-Briggs personalities dressed in sheep’s clothing? Maybe not.
Spiritual Gifts are Gifts From the Spirit
If it is true that spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit, then that means only people who have the Holy Spirit can have spiritual gifts. This makes spiritual gifts very different from personalities. While a person might have the Meyers-Briggs personality type ENFJ (otherwise known as The Commander) that doesn’t mean he has the spiritual gift of leadership. They may often overlap but they are two entirely different things.
By this time you’re probably wondering, “What are the spiritual gifts?” There are four main passages that discuss spiritual gifts; Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, 1 Corinthians 12:28–30, Ephesians 4:11. While there is some discussion regarding what exactly the spiritual gifts are, this is a fairly comprehensive list: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, tongues, interpreting tongues, administration, and helps. This list may seem very diverse but there is something I would like to point out regarding the different gifts of the Spirit. If you read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, you will notice that Paul really seems to enjoy using a specific word. The word is “same”. Apparently, Paul thinks that it is very important to emphasize that all of the gifts come from the same Spirit. But why? The answer lies in the next section of 1 Corinthians 12.
In verses 12-31, Paul writes that the church is a body, made up of many different parts. Each of these parts has a different function that cannot be done by any other part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, it wouldn’t work very well! Fortunately, there are many body parts with different abilities. This is where spiritual gifts come in. God has given us spiritual gifts so that each of us can make up a part of the church. However, these gifts aren’t from different spirits with different agendas or even from within ourselves. They all come from a single Spirit, and therefore should be used for a singular purpose – to build the body of Christ.
Spiritual Gifts in Real Life
According to Scripture, spiritual gifts should be used for the profit and building of the church. But how does that work practically? Is it necessary to identify your spiritual gifts in order to use them? Or does that just happen naturally?
There are different opinions on this subject. Some people say that it is important to know what your spiritual gifts are and others disagree. John Piper, in a sermon on spiritual gifts, gives his opinion which is essentially that while it may be helpful to know your spiritual gifts, it is not the primary thing. Instead, we should be looking for ways to strengthen and build the body of Christ. When we do this, we will naturally use our spiritual gifts.
The flipside of this comes from Romans 12:6-8. Paul says here that because we all have different gifts, we should each use the gifts given to us. The question is, if we don’t know what gifts we have, how are we to obey this command? If my gift is teaching, it would be nice for myself and the church to know so that I can exercise it.
We can exercise our spiritual gifts without knowing exactly what they are. However, some people may find it beneficial to pinpoint their gifts. If you think that is the case for you, there are two ways to go about discovering your spiritual gifts. One is to take a test. I’m not a strong believer in spiritual gifts tests. They are generalizations and can easily be wrong. In my opinion, the best way to discern your spiritual gifts is to look for areas that you naturally gravitate towards in service and to ask people who know you well. These two together can give you a fairly good picture of your spiritual giftings.
Using Spiritual Gifts Well
It is completely possible to understand spiritual gifts and know the ones given to you but still use them incorrectly. This is because of a little thing called pride. Because the gifts that we have are areas where we perform better than others, we can easily become proud. The best way to combat this is to remind yourself of the reason you have these gifts. The Holy Spirit gives them for the express purpose of building and strengthening others within the church. Rather than becoming proud, we should constantly be asking ourselves, “How can build up others with this gift?” The more you focus on others, the less time you have to think about yourself.
First Things First
There are many other things that could be discussed regarding spiritual gifts. Some of these topics are fairly controversial. Ultimately, no matter what you believe about miracles, tongues, or prophecy, you must remember that spiritual gifts are given to be humbly used for the building of the church. Don’t let other issues distract you from this purpose. Keep using the spiritual gifts that have been given to you for the strengthening of the body of Christ.
|Joshua Blank is from NYC, but is living in Boston for the next four years where he is attending Sattler College. He enjoys learning, living in the city, good discussions, and anything related to music. He is hoping to use his business degree as an opportunity in foreign missions.|
- “Gifts Of The Spirit.” AllAboutGOD.com, http://www.allaboutgod.com/gifts-of-the-spirit.htm.
- Piper, John. “Spiritual Gifts.” Desiring God, 3 Sept. 2019, http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/spiritual-gifts.