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What are Spiritual Gifts?

Updated on August 3, 2013

God has equipped every believer for ministry through various spiritual gifts. What are spiritual gifts, and what is their purpose?

Spiritual gifts reveal God's grace to the world.
Spiritual gifts reveal God's grace to the world. | Source

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. -- Romans 12:6 (NASB)

Spiritual Gifts are Unique

God gives believers exceptional and unique gifts, says Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life.

God gave you a "unique heart, unique abilities, a unique personality, [and] a lifetime of unique experiences so you would make your own unique difference in the world."

Unique supernatural gifts are called spiritual gifts. Have you set out to discover your spiritual gift? Do you use it for the right purpose?

God gives at least one spiritual gift to every person who accepts the gift of salvation that Jesus offers (Romans 10:9-10). Spiritual gifts are ministry tools, and God gives them according to His plan and purpose.

Most Christians assume that God bestows spiritual gifts at the time of spiritual birth, the moment someone accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. However, Bible verses like Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 seem to indicate that God gives some spiritual gifts later.

No matter when God gives you a spiritual gift, you must cultivate it throughout your life. Here is a short overview on spiritual gifts and their purpose in the believer's life.

Blackaby on Spiritual Gifts

What's So Spiritual About Your Gifts? (LifeChange Books)
What's So Spiritual About Your Gifts? (LifeChange Books)

Book by Henry Blackaby and Mel Blackaby / Format: Hardcover Edition.


Spiritual Gifts Point to God

Spiritual gifts come in many different forms. According to Henry Blackaby, a respected pastor and Bible teacher, they enable the church to be Christ-centered, maintain unity, and practice genuine love.

Here's how The Message explains spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:

"Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!

"The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues.

"All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one, by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when."

Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries.
Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries. | Source

Spiritual Gifts are Varied

Charles Stanley, the founder of In Touch Ministries, says the Bible classifies spiritual gifts into three categories: equipping gifts, gifts of manifestation, and motivational gifts. Each believer has at least one of these gifts, and many people possess multiple gifts.

Equipping Gifts

Ephesians 4:11-12 describes the first category, equipping gifts. According to the New Living Translation, "these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ."

Manifestation Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 reveals the second gifts category, the gifts of manifestation. These gifts -- wisdom, knowledge, faith, and healing -- are given for the common good of all believers.

Motivational Gifts

"The third category of gifts is motivational," says Stanley, and Romans 12:4-8 describes them. "Motivational gifts include prophecy (rightly speaking the truth of the Word), service, teaching, exhortation, generous giving, leadership, and mercy."

Arthur on Spiritual Gifts

Understanding Spiritual Gifts (40-Minute Bible Studies)
Understanding Spiritual Gifts (40-Minute Bible Studies)

Book by Kay Arthur / Format: Paperback Edition.


Are You Using Your Gift?

Have you identified your spiritual gift? Do you use your gift to serve others, or do you hide your spiritual gift in a drawer?

Your spiritual gift should reveal God's grace to the world around you. This is its intended purpose.

1 Peter 4:10 says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."

If you are having trouble identifying your gift, consider your spiritual condition. Are you a Christ follower? Spiritual gifts are for believers, and they differ from natural talents. If you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus, God has blessed you with at least one spiritual gift.

There are many ways to discover your unique gifting. Take a spiritual gifts test or inventory; several websites offer free assessments. Talk to a life coach or career counselor; they can help you identify your gift and calling. Plan a trip to your church library, public library, or Christian bookstore; they also have many helpful resources.

Finally, do not overlook the simple act of service. "Probably the best way to discover your gift is to serve in a variety of ministry situations," says Charles Stanley. "When you find the area that suits your gift, you will know it."

How to Know Your Spiritual Gift / Kay Arthur and David Arthur

Reference Sources / Further Reading

God equips every believer for ministry through various spiritual gifts. What is your gift?
God equips every believer for ministry through various spiritual gifts. What is your gift? | Source

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    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're quite welcome, Hyphenbird. Thank you for reading my hub and taking a moment to comment. Have a blessed afternoon!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      What a great Hub on spiritual gifts. Many people are totally unaware and their gifts go unused. You wrote accurately and well on this matter. Thank you Annette.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Donna! Thank you for the compliment. I truly enjoyed the research and writing on this one.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Good morning, LadyLyell! I appreciate your vote and encouragement.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      Nicely written and researched hub, Annette. Thanks for sharing the Gospel in such a positive way. Voted up.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Voted interesting!