“A spiritual gift is a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ, according to God’s grace, for use within the context of the Body.” (C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow: How to Find Your Gifts & Use Them to Bless Others, p. 34).Wagner’s perspective represents one of two major definitions of spiritual gifts. Let’s focus on the key phrases in this definition of spiritual gifts.
a special attribute: It’s Wagner’s belief that our spiritual gifts are new abilities that God gives to us after we come to faith in Christ. I used to believe that was always the case. I still believe that God, Who “makes all things new,” often bestow new skills on people for His purposes.
But we need to be careful not to fool ourselves about this. When I was a seminarian, I worked with a newly forming church. A member who had recently come to faith approached me with an offer to play the piano for worship. “I never knew how to play until I became a Christian. The Lord taught me.” I was wary, but desperate for a fill-in the next Sunday, I took her up on her offer. She played horribly and all I could think was, “If the Lord taught her, He sure did a lousy job.”
according to God’s grace: God grants us spiritual gifts as He chooses. It’s God Who “activates all [the gifts] in everyone” (First Corinthians 12:6). In this, as in other aspects of the Christian life, our prayer should simply be, “Your will be done.”
for use within the context of the Body: The New Testament says, “To each [believer] is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (First Corinthians 12:7). There are no solo Christians. In the movie, Rocky, the film’s hero described his relationship with Adrian to Pauly: “I’ve got gaps. She’s got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” That’s what our gifts allow believers to do for one another as we pursue our common mission from Christ.
Tomorrow, another definition of spiritual gifts.
Bible Passage to Ponder: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (First Corinthians 12:7)
[THANKS TO both Jan of The View from Her and to John of Blogotional for linking to this series.]