The Use And Abuse Of Spiritual Gifts

It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

–Philippians 2:13

When I ask people, “What do you think your spiritual gift is?” sometimes they say, “I have the gift of singing,” or, “I have the gift of working with my hands.” One lady told me, “I have the gift of making chocolate pies.” I wanted to take advantage of that gift!

But those are all natural abilities, not spiritual gifts. Let me give you this definition: a spiritual gift is the desire and power God gives you to accomplish His purpose. When God gives you a gift, He gives you a specific desire to be involved in His kingdom purpose. For example, some people like to meet the practical needs of others; that is the gift of serving. But a lot of people mix up their gift with their ministry. For example, singing in the choir is a ministry somebody might be involved in, but singing is not their spiritual gift. Their gift is the reason they want to sing. Maybe they sing because they have the desire to comfort people who are hurting. That is the gift of mercy, and they are exercising their gift through the ministry of singing.

A spiritual gift is a desire as well as an enabling power God gives you. When you are operating in your spiritual gift, it is not only something you enjoy doing, but it is also something God seems to bless uniquely in your life. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God gives you a will, a desire, to do His pleasure, and He also gives you the power to work for His pleasure. It is a desire and an ability.

Now, whenever God gives a legitimate gift, Satan tries to counterfeit it. And that was happening in the Corinthian church with the gift of tongues. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul wrote, “No one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” In pagan temples, there was a practice in which worshipers would start speaking this ecstatic gibberish, and scholars believe the Corinthians had brought this practice into the church. In fact, during this practice, some of them would blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ. So Paul said any gift that causes you to curse the name of Jesus or in any way diminish the lordship of Christ is not a true spiritual gift.

That is true for us today. The test of whether something is from God is not how we feel about it but what the Word of God says. If you think God is leading you to do something that is contrary to His Word, that is not God speaking to you. It may be your own desires speaking to you, it may be the pepperoni pizza you had for dinner speaking to you, but it is not God speaking to you. God never calls us to do something that violates the principles in His Word.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “You and Your Spiritual Gift” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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