“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8

If you knew me very well you might think it funny that I have a strong desire to encourage people.  I don’t feel encouraged a lot of the time.  I feel a lot of other things like exhausted, frustrated, distressed and sometimes depressed.

But through all that haze of human struggle God has given me a gift of encouragement. That, to me, is amazing.

God delights to show Himself strong where we are weak.

And because it’s very obviously not my nature, but God’s, He gets all the glory.

Once the Holy Spirit placed that gift in my heart, it was up to me to yield myself to Him and allow Him to shine that light of encouragement through me.  And yet sometimes all I have to do is walk through a check-out line.

I was doing just that once years ago when I was a fairly new believer.  The store was crazy busy, all the lines were long, and I stood in one of them holding my new pair of shoes.

I finally…finally…finally reached the front of the line, and the poor cashier looked frazzled.  Her head was down, finishing up from the last customer. As she looked up and into my eyes, she stopped, smiled, chuckled a bit and said, “I felt better when I saw your face.”

Now, it was not me and it certainly was not my face, per se.  There were plenty of other perfectly nice faces that had gone through that line, and there was nothing about mine in particular that would comfort this overworked girl, except that it was the face of someone who was in love with Jesus and had been given the gift of encouragement.

It was the Holy Spirit, graciously and mercifully using that gift to shine His light of comfort from one of His children to, quite possibly, another.

That’s what spiritual gifts are for: the building up of the Body.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

So, lest any of us think we have no spiritual gifts, God’s Word tells us that if we are part of the body of Christ – if He is our Lord – then the Spirit has given each of us at least one gift for the benefit of the body. It’s not to keep for ourselves and it’s not to hide, but to share.

The Church is weakened when all its members are not fully using their God-given gifts for the benefit of one another.

 

One issue is that many times talents and gifts are misunderstood, and human talents are being used rather than spiritual gifts. Gifts of the Spirit are being minimized in favor of works of the flesh; pride is trumping humility and submissiveness to the Spirit of God.  And when that happens, the church becomes nothing more than a sing-a-long, but not true praise; nothing more than an inspirational teaching, though not Spirit-inspired; nothing more than a religious duty, but not actual worship. And we all suffer for it.

Human talents rely on our own personal knowledge, practice, understanding, strength and power.

Spiritual gifts are given and used strictly by the power of the Holy Spirit and our yieldedness to Him.  

God can give gifts to complement the talents He’s given us, but His gifts still work solely in the power of the Spirit.  

Gifts are given to us, not because of who we are, but in spite of it.

The Church needs our gifts.  We are each a brick in the Church of God with Christ as its Cornerstone.  Remove just one and though the foundation stands, the building falters.

If you don’t know what your gift or gifts are, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to show you. There are some tools that, with prayer, can help you find your spiritual gifts.  This is one: http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/

And once you find your gift(s), ask the Lord to show you how He would have you use it for the building up of the body.  Beside our personal relationship with Christ, being used by the Lord and fulfilling His plan for us is perhaps the most rewarding blessing on this earth.

And may I add – let’s encourage each other in our gifts and allow ourselves to be built up by one another. We need each other right now, and we need the gifts God’s given to all of us.  There may be darker days coming for believers than we’ve seen in recent headlines and we need every spiritual gift to prepare and empower us and spur us on to victory.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11

Grace and Peace,