Spiritual Gifts: What are they for?

Spiritual gifts: this has to be one of the most touchy subjects in all of Christendom next to baptism. Unfortunately, it has divided the Body of Christ into different sects and denominations. So I’m fully aware what I may be getting myself into here. So feel free to disagree.

For much of my young Christian life I sought to discover what my gifts were and what they looked like practically. I prayed, I studied the Scriptures, I examined and analyzed myself to the point of exhaustion to try to figure out what my gifts were. All to no avail. It wasn’t until recently that I began to see certain things that have revolutionized my views of spiritual gifts.

About a year ago I finally was able to lay down–and let die–my pursuit of gifts. I did this by turning my attention to the Giver, instead of the things received. If we focus our attention on Jesus Christ and become willing to be giftless, then we will, from my experience, be able to actually figure out what our gifts are and what they are for. So let’s start with just that–what are gifts for?

Paul says to the Corinthian Church after they had gotten caught up in a similar quest in seeking gifts says after explaining that we are all “of the same Spirit,”

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

He then goes on to describe some of these “manifestations.” The key phrase in this passage is “common good.” Not “individual good,” or “singular good.” No, the common good, or, better put, the good of the community.

Also in his letter to the Ephesians he echoes the same call:

 …so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13 NIV)

Again, the key is community–he puts it in this passage as “the body of Christ”. What is being said in both of these passages to two different churches is that gifts are not for the individual’s enjoyment. They are for the whole body of Christ. They are to be used to serve the body of Christ, the church, the saints, the Bride, the brethren, the children of God.

Your gifts are not for you. My gifts are not for me. All things are to, through, by, and for Christ.

Spiritual gifts are for the expression, the manifestation, the representation, the revelation, the sighting, the witnessing, the declaration of, and the glorification of Jesus Christ. Spiritual gifts are for the service and ministry of the body of Christ–the assembly of the Firstborn. Not for our own enjoyment and use though they can be used and enjoyed, but that’s not the reason they exist.

Outside of community, spiritual giftings don’t make sense. What’s the purpose of giftings if we hoard them or hold them over someone else’s head? That’s not walking in love. It appears to be a reason that Paul emphasized love in the chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians directly after speaking of spiritual gifts in chapter 12. That’s just a thought though, I’ll let you sit on that one :).

What is also quite clear in these passages (I would advise you to read the entire piece of both passages after reading this) is that each person has a special gifting. We all have gifts from the Spirit. Without each member’s gifting, then we can’t come into the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. Each has a portion of Him inside of us, and the body can’t do without even one of them. This is what Paul was speaking of in 1 Corinthians when he goes into how each of the body parts of Christ need one another and can’t do without. (How the eye can’t say to the hand “I don’t need you!”, and the head can’t say to the feet “I don’t need you!” [12:21-26])

I need the portion of Christ that you, yes you, have. I can’t do without it. Only pride and arrogance says that individuals are more important and their gifts more needed than someone else’s. That person isn’t thinking corporately, but as an individual.

So gifts aren’t for me, and they aren’t for you. They are for the Lord and the building up and edification of the church. By flowing in your gifts, you are serving the bride of Christ. But it really comes down to where your heart is.

May the Lord reveal more and more, that though we are dearly loved and cherished, and that we play a huge role in things, that it isn’t about us, our individual ministries, or our giftings. It is about Jesus Christ and His eternal purpose through the church. The summing up of all things in the Son.


28 thoughts on “Spiritual Gifts: What are they for?

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  1. Great article bro! I think what you said about laying down the pursuit of what your gift is, and pursuing the giver of the gift instead is a huge point. His gifts flow through us as we live by His Life.


  2. Good piece Bro. Don’t forget that gifts are also to be used not only for the body and already saved, but for the unsaved also. We must bring our gifts out to the community at large to have an impact in bringing people to Christ and spreading the Good News.


  3. So true. His life flows through each of us so uniquely for the lifting and building up of the Body. I have found that there is no greater joy here on Earth than operating in this way. He gets the glory, and we get the joy. I am so in awe of how He set this up.


  4. It’s a good thing when God starts to reveal Himself to His children. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you to those who are either struggling to “find” their giftedness or “lording” their presumed giftedness over others. May He continue to reveal more and more of Himself to you and through you!


  5. very well stated!! if Christ’s body is living and active, there is a constant giving and taking for the good of the body. much like our blood gifts each of our body parts with oxygen and nutrients for life, ‘the gifts’ which are actually the person of Jesus Christ, should be constantly circulating throughout the body. the interesting thing is that our physical bodies ‘do their part’ of allowing the blood to flow to each body member because they are functioning as God created them to function; there is a complete awareness of identity and therefore no competition with the other body parts. we as the body Christ need such an understanding of our identity that when ‘each part does it’s work’, it is as involuntary as the exchange of oxygen in our blood. however, like our physical bodies, this exchange only takes place when each member is in full submission to the Head. only then can we ‘know our master’s business’ and freely be a conduit of his life to the other members of the body.


  6. I examined these ‘gifting’s’ many years ago and came to the same conclusions. When I realized they were for the benefit and edification of the Body of Christ–of which I haven’t been a part of corporately or institutionally for many years now, I was free to strengthen other areas in my day to day communion with the Lord. I first noticed a spiritual ‘cringing’ if you can call it that and a growing feeling of ‘uncomfortablness’ in semi-mega congregations when tongues were spoken and there wasn’t an interpretation…or one of the elders/ushers followed around with a microphone and recorder so that the so-called ‘word of knowledge or prophecy’ could later be transcribed and given as a token in written form to the person(s) the gibberish was meant for…or a congregant would go into this eerie ‘ooooohhh!!! ahhhhhhh! eeeeeeee! my my my!” and have someone lean over the pew and say: “she just recently discovered her GIFT for seeing heaven in all it’s glory and the Holy Spirit is moving in her right now!” Needless to say, this disrupted the entire service..(Right now I am reminded after the chill went down my spine recounting this–of Carter Conlon in his blessed exhortation of ‘RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”)
    The Lord ‘sequestered’ me is the only way I could explain it after all this church stuff. Time alone with Him and seeking HIM ALONE to build a relationship was what my heart was yearning for. For several years I read and studied but mostly prayed, cause afterall, He said “All who seek Me will find Me!”….and I did. And within me he began to strengthen the foundations that would bring forth GOOD FRUITS!!! As this fruit began to ripen over a period of time and I gave away bushels now instead of baskets–more fruit would grow–deeper, sweeter, richer more textured and voila humbleness replaced arrogance. True Peace replaced pseudo-peace that faded by the following Sunday because now I KNEW the PRINCE of that PEACE!
    Thank you my precious brother in Christ. For in your Youth, there is Wisdom and Knowing God (Truly and Surely) is the Beginning of it…it does appear you’ve travelled quite a bit on this dusty Road already….You’ve left the Damascus Trail and are now on the Road to Emmaus–if you haven’t arrived there already…
    In Christ’s Service Now and Until We Serve Him Together Eternally
    Shay McLaughlin


    1. Thanks for your comment :). It’s always an interesting journey in this area. I’ve never met anyone with a boring or uneventful story when it comes to spiritual gifts. It seems like we all come across them at some point and begin to wonder what to do with them. Sometimes we can see how some things are “off”. But when we see what is “on”, watch out!


  7. absolutely great brother! well said, Christ in you is speaking to us! It is about building up the community, Christ said He would build His community and He does so by His Spirit in and through and to each other by His life! amen!


  8. Amen Brother! Praise His Name forever and ever! Gifts are temporal, He is eternal! As my elder brother and mentor in the Lord says, God has not given us Things. Gifts. Technique. Methodology. He has given us a person and in that person, the Lord Jesus, we discover everything.”

    He is the true eternal gift that for love sake was slaughtered like a lamb on the alter, but on the third day HE was raised from the dead and brought us back into His Eternal Heart of fellowship when HE filled our empty hearts with the Spirit of His Life .


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