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Jul 14 2012

Does each Christian receive a Gift of the Holy Spirit?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on Talents vs. Gifts of the Holy Spirit. In some Christian circles, gifts of the Holy Spirit are understood to be something big and miraculous. Some Christians may be confused as to the difference between “talents” and “gift of the Holy Spirit.” I was not real clear in my understanding until was given this question to answer. Initially I Googled “gift of the Holy Spirit” and was surprised to find that people have actually designed tests that people can take to find out what their gifts of the Holy Spirit are. While I very much disagree with these man made tests to determine what gifts God has given to an individual, it became clear with the amount of sites offering these tests that Christians really want to know what gifts God has given them. Because some believe that gifts of the Holy Spirit are something that is miraculous looking such as healing the sick, people want to know if God gives everyone a gift. Before talking about gifts of the Holy Spirit, I wanted to make the distinction between gifts of the Holy Spirit and talents since these two terms are used interchangeably.

In order to discern what our talents are, it would be helpful to understand where our talents come from. Talents are inherited from our parents. It is something we that we have at birth though it won’t become apparent until we grow older. For instance, a person who has a natural skill for musical instruments must still learn to play an instrument. On the other hand, a person who does not have a natural inclination towards musical instruments would have great difficulty in becoming proficient enough to play in an orchestra. Some people have a natural talent in singing while others cannot hold a tune. We don’t automatically know what our talents are. We find out what our talents are by trying different activities.

On the other hand, spiritual gifts are from God (1 Corinthians 12:7). Spiritual gifts have a specific purpose. God places great importance on spiritual gifts and is one of the subjects that God has dealt with often and in detail such as 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4 and 1 Peter chapter 4. Since God has placed a great deal of importance on gifts of the Holy Spirit, God wants us to use them for His purpose. They are not for us to enjoy but to serve one another

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Our natural talents or skills are often also used by God as spiritual gifts in that they will result in “spiritual fruit” that will benefit the body of Christ. God made us and knew us from before we were born.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139-13-16

For instance someone that has a natural talent for teaching such as a high school history teacher is not producing spiritual fruit when standing before the classroom teaching American history. However, God can use that natural talent to produce spiritual fruit by filling that person with the Spirit of God enabling that teacher to teach a Sunday school class. The Bible gives us another example. In Exodus 31:1-11, God filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God “in wisdom, understanding and in knowledge and in all kinds of craftsmanship” so that he could make artistic designs for the Tabernacle. He also appointed Oholiab and others who “are skillful” so that they could also help in the making the artistic designs.

We need to know what our spiritual gifts are so that we are equipped to carry out God’s purpose. As Christians, we will not know what our role is in the body of Christ unless we become active within our Christian community. God tells us to take the Gospel to the unbelievers (Mark 16:15). God has gifted some people with evangelism while others have been given other gifts. This does not mean that we are to ignore evangelism. To the contrary, we are to share the Good News whenever we can. Yet, we tend to react to situations we find ourselves in according to our abilities. Our spiritual gift(s) makes us more sensitive to certain needs that others may not necessarily recognize. For instance, someone that God has given the gift of exhortation to might perceive someone who needs comforting words based on their body language that others might not be aware of.

We should step in and do what we see that needs to be done. While our natural talents can be beneficial, they are not spiritual gifts unless God has enabled that natural talent to be a spiritual gift so that it produces spiritual fruit.

This post is adapted from an answer written for GotQuestions.org

Photo Credit Pixabay.com

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  1. Ed

    “Our natural talents or skills are often also used by God as spiritual gifts in that they will result in “spiritual fruit” that will benefit the body of Christ. God made us and knew us from before we were born.”

    I think this is most often how this plays itself out in our lives.

    There is nothing we have that does not come from God.

    Our God-given “natural” talents become our gifts of the
    Holy Spirit when they are placed in service to God after
    we are saved, as in your example of the high school
    history teacher who teaches Sunday school.

    John McCarthur was among a group of pastors and theologians
    who were asked how many total gifts of the Holy Spirit exist?

    He was the only one who did not come up with a number.

    John McCarthur’s answer was, “I have no idea”.

    There really is no way to know how many gifts there
    are because when God’s Word “lists” the gifts, I don’t
    believe it’s to provide us with an itemized list to plug into
    a “spiritual gifts inventory test”.

    As you say in your post, there is a tremendous amount
    of overlap in the gifts. In order to be a good teacher,
    for instance, a person needs to have several gifts;
    such as.knowledge, wisdom, discernment, encouragement,
    and probably a large side order of patience if they’re teaching
    people like me :) .

    I believe John McCarthur’s point is that there are an infinite
    number of combinations of gifts that God can give us, and
    therefore it’s not possible to number them or list them.

    What do you think about passion as it relates to talents,
    gifts, and God?



    1. Tishrei

      I couldn’t agree more in that the gifts listed in the bible is not exhaustive. Whatever we’re doing that is producing fruit is the gift that He has given us. I honestly believe that some of the greatest gifts that does most for the body of Christ are the “non-spectacular” gifts where the Christian is quietly serving. I remember this one woman at church who was very quiet but when she found out about a person’s need, she quietly did what she could to help. She did not only help those in the congregation but outside the congregation and helped non-Christians which is a great witness. She did not look for recognition but simply went about doing what needed to be done. She never talked about it but people knew about it because those that benefited did say something about what she did for them.

      As to passion as it relates to talents, I think I like the word “zeal” better. I hope I don’t sound too picky but here’s why I like zeal better. When I read your comment, I thought about it for a while. For some reason, the word “zeal” came to mind. So I looked it up in scripture. Anyway, zeal is used more positively in scripture than passion/passionate. I then looked up the two words in the dictionary and there is a slight difference in the meaning. Passion is more ruled by emotion while zeal is more of a fervor or an intense desire towards something.

      However, with respect to passion and talents, I guess it would depend. Using the example I used in the post of a teacher, good teachers have a passion for teaching. My best friend just has this talent for growing things in his garden even in the desert. He really has a passion regarding his gardening. He loves to do it, spends a lot of time cultivating his garden. He also shares the produce with people, he gives away a lot of fruit and vegetables.

      I’m passionate about caring for wildlife. I spend a lot of time caring for hurt and injured birds. Many people who have taken in birds that are in the condition that I take them in have not been able to save them. It’s just something I seem to be able to do, a talent that God has given me to care for and just instinctively know what to do for them (in most cases). I can’t see how that particular talent is used as a gift that benefits the body of Christ; it only really benefits the birds.

      I’m using examples because I really can’t express what I’m trying to say. I guess passion has more to do with emotion as opposed to zeal. Having our emotions tied to a talent is not necessarily wrong. If a person did not have an emotional tie (passion) to what they were doing, I don’t think we would excel for there would be no incentive. I don’t have a passion for cooking so asking me to host a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people would be a chore that I am not sure I would enjoy.

      I sure hope I made sense.

  2. Ed

    I think you make sense, and I agree that zeal is a better choice of words to express what I was thinking of when
    I used the word passion.

    The reason I asked the question is because I was thinking of what you said in your last paragraph. If God
    had given us our talents and gifts, but no zeal for doing them, they wouldn’t be much good.

    Sometimes I get to thinking that I just happen to have a passion or zeal for doing this or doing that, when
    God has not only given me gifts to serve Him, but also the zeal for doing them.

    also hoping I’m making sense.

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