Our Seek the Gifts series continues as we explore the gifts of the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit can minister through you. Last post, we discussed how the Spirit helps us as a Church through the gifts. Now we will talk about who the gifts are for.
People have a lot of questions about the gifts of the Spirit. They want to know about them, but they want to know how to use their gift most effectively. This series will help you with both. So let us turn to discovering who the gifts are for.
The Gifts Are for Christians
We answer these fundamental questions by saying that the Spirit gives gifts to Christians. People have asked, “Do unbelievers have gifts?” The Spirit only gives gifts to Christians.
The Holy Spirit is moving in the lives of unbelievers to show them who Jesus is. He cannot give them gifts to minister to others until they know and serve Christ. But once you are a Christian, the Spirit wants to minister to others through you.
He ministers through giving gifts to Christians and teaching them how to follow Him as He leads them. The gifts are best used when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Only when we completely surrender to His leadership instead of our own can we effectively minister to others.
At the moment of your salvation, Jesus sealed you with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit dwells within every Christian. The gifts are available to you the moment He saves you. But many Christians don’t discover their gifts right away. Some Christians don’t even know to begin seeking the gifts.
Seeking the gifts of the Spirit does not happen immediately. There is a learning process about the gifts and how they help others. Then there is a time of seeking the Spirit to discover what gifts He has given you. Finally, there’s honing your skills in your gift for full effectiveness.
Every Christian Has At Least One
People ask, “How many gifts does each Christian received?” He gives at least one gift to every Christian. But you can receive more than one gift. The Bible doesn’t say we max out on our gifts.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7, ESV)
It describes the gifts as a manifestation of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7). The manifestation is the Spirit working through you. The gift is how He manifests His ministry through you. So the Bible does not say how many gifts you can have.
But you can have more than one gift. In one place, Paul commands us to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). So we can seek multiple gifts. As the Spirit directs the body, He may give you a gift you’ve never used before for the common good.
True spirituality is not about how many gifts you exercise. It’s about knowing by the Spirit’s leading what gift is needed in the moment and allowing Him to use that gift through you to minister to others.
No believer has all the gifts of the Spirit. He ministers through multiple people at a time. Paul says the Spirit apportions the gifts to each as He wills.
“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:8–10, ESV)
Notice throughout this passage as Paul describes the spiritual gifts the repeated phrases “to one,” “to another,” “to another,” and so on. God never meant to only minister through one person. The body of Christ is not a body without the participation of multiple members.
Jesus designed His body to work in community. We receive ministry from others. The Holy Spirit can minister to us personally, but He uses others to minister to us as well. When we are in the body during a service or during ministry, He ministers through others as much as He ministers through us.
Since no one Christian has all the ministry gifts of the Spirit, He must minister through others to us. You cannot minister to yourself through every gift of the Spirit. He gifts others for a holistic approach to ministry, so that everyone receives ministry.
The Gifts Are Not for You
When we originally receive our gifts, we may be tempted to think they are for us. They confirm the Spirit’s presence in us. They show we are “spiritual.” We get excited because the Spirit chose to minister through us.
But these thoughts show immaturity in us. Nowhere in the Bible does the Spirit give gifts to Christians so they can show off or feel special. That must not be our focus.
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts so we can minister to others. It’s better to be thankful the Spirit gives you gifts and ministers through you. You are not the focus of His ministry. Everyone around you is His focus.
The Gifts Are for the Body
We’ve seen Paul teach the Spirit gives the gifts for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). That’s the common good of the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit ministers through you to others with the gifts.
How privileged we are to have gifts! How else would we know how to minister to one another, or be able to minister to one another? You are not an island to yourself. You need to receive ministry just as much as you need to minister to others.
The Spirit knows what each member of the body needs to hear and receive. He knows just how to deliver what we need at the right time. As long as we follow His lead, He can do great things among us.
As with all of Christianity, we cannot fulfill all Jesus’ commands and teachings on our own. We don’t know everything. Other people can help us, give us resources, and lead us in Christ. So it is with the gifts. The Spirit means to minister through many people rather than one.
You cannot give what you don’t have. You cannot receive what you can’t give yourself. So we need one another. The Spirit does this on purpose. He doesn’t want to use one or two people. Can you imagine the jealousy, the insecurity, and the comparisons we would make amongst ourselves if He only ministered through one or two people?
We’re better together. There’s nothing more beautiful than the Spirit ministering through everyone to everyone. He gets everyone involved. And He is ministering to you as He ministers through you.
The Spirit Gives the Gifts
“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, ESV)
I’ve said this throughout the post, but the Spirit gives the gifts as He sees fit. We must understand and practice this truth. It is essential to properly moving in your gift. Otherwise, we think we can use our gift as we will.
The Holy Spirit empowers the gift in you. He uses it through you as He wills. Each of us must follow His lead and only use the gift when He prompts us. He is in control. So we look to Him who gave us the gift on when to use it.
Because the Holy Spirit gives all the gifts to whom He wills, He knows when to use what gift. We don’t have to wonder if it’s time to use our gift. He tells us when. Leave the complicated weaving of the gifts to the Spirit.
Maybe you don’t like your gift or think it’s useful. Paul talks about this, and we will talk about it in later posts. But the Spirit knows you better than you know yourself. He knows just the right gift to give to you.
All the gifts have great use in the proper context. The Spirit works all this in you. He decides who gets the gifts, which gifts you get, when do use the gift, and who will use the gift they have. The more you surrender to the Holy Spirit, the greater He can use His gift to you.
Paul uses the word “apportion” to show the Spirit not only decides who gets the gifts they receive and when they use them, but also how many gifts each Christian receives. We must not be upset with receiving one or two gifts instead of four or five.
The gifts bring out the very worst of our old thinking and perspective. We want to compete with other Christians. We want to have more gifts than them. We want to be the ones the Spirit ministers through more than others. We want to have the greatest gifts in the congregation.
But God must break us of this competitive spirit. We must remember it’s not about us. It’s about others. Only when we learn to fully submit ourselves to the Spirit, to surrender our desire to compete, and to put others first do we find ourselves useful for the Spirit to minister through us.
We do well to put humility before seeking the gifts. And as we will discuss in a future post, the fruit of the Spirit must come before the gifts. There is a divine order and how the Spirit ministers first to us, and then through us.
What a privilege for each of us to minister to one another by the Spirit’s power through the gifts! He gives us the opportunity to be used by Him in His ministry. But we must yield ourselves to Him. We must be obedient. We must listen. And we must follow.
This is foundational for understanding how to minister through your gifts. We start with the basics, and as we move through this series, we will get to the more advanced understanding of the gifts. How has the Spirit ministered through you so far in your walk with Jesus?
We have talked about the foundational principles of who the gifts are for and why the Spirit ministers through the whole body of Christ. Now we turn to study the gifts revealed in the Old Testament.