Three Categories of Gifts

There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
—1 Corinthians 12:4–6

Spiritual gifts can be divided into three categories. Now, over the years I’ve heard many presentations of spiritual gifts. Some people even do what’s called a “spiritual gifts inventory.” They take three biblical passages about spiritual gifts: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. And then they list all of those gifts, crossing out the duplicates and the gifts they don’t think are operational anymore. There are about twenty of them when you put them all together. And they say, “Okay, out of this list, pick one or two or three gifts you think you have.”

Now, here’s what a thinking person would ask. Why did Paul make three separate lists? Why did Paul mention some of the gifts to the Roman Christians but not mention them when he wrote to the Corinthians or the Ephesians? Was Paul getting senile? Did he just forget? Why did he write three different lists of gifts?

I think the answer is that there are three categories of spiritual gifts outlined in 1 Corinthians 12. Verses 4 through 6 tell us the three categories of gifts. Paul says, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” I think these are the three separate categories—gifts, ministries, and effects.

First, Paul says in verse 4, “There are varieties of gifts.” Now, those are the seven gifts in Romans 12:6–8. And when Peter says in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift,” he’s talking about the seven gifts in Romans 12. Every one of us received one of those gifts at the moment of salvation, and it doesn’t change throughout our lifetime.

The second category of gifts is ministries. Verse 5 says, “And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” These ministries are opportunities in the church God opens up in which you can use your spiritual gift. Now, while you only have one gift, you may have a variety of ministries throughout your lifetime. In fact, you can have more than one ministry at the same time. Your ministries are varied and change, but your gift remains the same.

The third category is effects. Verse 6 says, “There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” What are effects? These are supernatural results that the Holy Spirit produces in other people’s lives when we exercise our gifts. Nowhere are we told to produce these effects in other people. This is what the Holy Spirit does in others’ lives when we exercise our gift in the ministry God has opened up for us.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gift — Message 1” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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