A living sacrifice of generosity includes actions and virtuous character. In verses 6–8 of Romans 12, Paul doesn’t just list possible spiritual gifts but instructs us how to use them: diligently and faithfully. But how do we recognize our gifts so we can properly use them to serve?
Today and tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Keep in mind that while some gifts are easily recognized because they occur often and widely, there are also many gifts less defined and overlapping with other gifts. Our list doesn’t cover all possibilities but helps us think about ways God uses his people to serve Christ’s body.
Below is a list of seven of the gifts. Read through these and take some time to process through the questions at the end:
- Prophecy: proclaiming God’ truth to build up the body. This doesn’t necessarily mean prediction (in fact, it rarely does) but recognizing particular, God-given truth in a specific situation, as it is consistent with the Christian faith, and revealing it to his people to encourage them.
- Service: recognizing and caring for physical or material needs.
- Teaching: communicating the truth of Scripture in a way that others find clarifying, applicable, and inspiring.
- Exhortation: encouraging, consoling, and counseling others to live out their faith through suffering and hardship.
- Giving: contributing personal resources to help others. “In generosity” here doesn’t mean “in large amounts,” but gets to the heart of how we share: with a single-minded purpose, which is God’s glory, not for recognition, not with condescension, and not to gain an upper hand relationally or politically. Because this doesn’t speak to amounts, a person could be poor and generous. Early Christians often were.
- Leadership: overseeing a group, often by discerning God’s purpose, communicating that purpose, and motivating others to serve for that God-given purpose.
- Showing mercy: acts of compassionate concern for those often over looked, such as the sick, elderly, disabled, and poor.
In books and movies, we get to know a character in three main ways: what the character thinks about herself, how the character responds to obstacles, and how other characters respond to her. We can use these three ways to get to know our spiritual gifts. As you read through the list, reflect on three questions. First, which of these gifts excites you? Which ones catch your attention and make you want to know everything about them and make them your own? How have you responded when you’ve seen other people practice these gifts.
Second, what experiences have you had with some of these gifts? When faced with practicing one, did you rise to the occasion with joy or hunker down and get through it? As Christians, we participate in all these duties at different times, but when God gives us the spiritual gift for it, we often feel supernatural fulfillment.
Third, how have others encouraged you in the past? What was the outcome when you practiced that gift? This third question is key. Since we practice our spiritual gifts for the body, other members of the body become our best reflection for understanding our gifts. They see God’s supernatural work through us.