Question: I need more enlightenment on the issue of spiritual gifts. Is the manifestation of spiritual gifts a gradual process? How can I know my spiritual gift? I don’t see this in my spiritual life in terms of visions and trances. I tried to go deeper into the things of God, but I cannot see the manifestation of these gifts.
Spiritual gifts are an integral part of Christian living. Often, many believers fail to comprehend or understand the concept of spiritual gifts fully. For some, it seems a bit mysterious as to how we gain the gifts, the signs of it manifesting in our lives, and trying to identify what exactly is your specific gift. Some also think that the outworking of special gifts are used as a measuring rod for their spirituality and maturity in Christ. In other words, the manifestation of outward signs is to be a sign of your more profound relationship with God. It is crucial to understand this cannot be further from the truth. It is the opposite of what scriptures teach and the reason why we need to understand spiritual gifts and what it means to be in a rightful, growing, fruitful relationship with Christ.
Let us begin by understanding the purpose of spiritual gifts. The primary purpose of spiritual gifts is to edify, mature, and promote the common good of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 14:12 says, “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” Also, 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Take note that just as you are eager for the manifestation of the Spirit, with the same zeal, or even more, strive to excel in them for building up the church.
The gifts are for the benefit of others and not for yourself. Ultimately it is to glorify God. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Every believer in Christ receives the gift of the Holy Spirit at salvation, and then He gives us gifts for the church and the glory of God. None of the gifts is ever to be used to draw self-attention or be used as an outward display for the purpose of self-exaltation or as a measure of your spirituality. Those with the gifts of the Holy Spirit are only instruments used for the ultimate glory of God. Amen! If not, spiritual gifts can become a source of pride and bring a disproportionate preoccupation with seeking a gift that will bring self-glorification.
It is essential to desire spiritual gifts. The Bible teaches us that we are to earnestly desire the higher gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), and also to pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy (1 Corinthians14:1). The desiring of these gifts is so that the church may be built up and others are strengthened (1 Corinthians 14:5). That is why the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
If you believe in Christ, you will have one or more spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes discovering these gifts could be a gradual process as you grow in your relationship with God. Notice that the Holy Spirit Himself apportions gifts to each individual as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Knowing your spiritual gift can be understood when you genuinely seek God through spending time in prayer, having fellowship with believers, and studying the word of God. As you do this, your gifts will automatically become evident. The Holy Spirit is the one who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Since the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts, He will also reveal the gift to us. He will reveal it by placing a deep desire in our heart, by leading us and using us in certain areas of the body of Christ to bring glory and honour to the Father.
Sometimes, you have to fan into flame the gift of God. In 2 Timothy 1:6-7, Paul encourages Timothy by saying, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Paul knew that Timothy had a great responsibility and work ahead to lead the church. He would need the guidance of the Spirit to do this work. Amen! These gifts would enable Timothy to be an effective minister.
Likewise, you have particular gifts from the Holy Spirit. Those gifts need to be strengthened and matured by fanning them into flame, and the source must be the Holy Spirit. Do not try and create those gifts by yourself and in your strength. We need to be in co-operation with the Holy Spirit to do this – and how do we do that? It is by keeping in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” So, there is something we need to do individually, and that is to keep in step with the Spirit. If you neglect your fellowship with the Spirit, your gift will remain unrealised and only be a small flicker.
As you desire more of God and increase in your love for Christ, doing all for His glory, you will see the Holy Spirit enable and use gifts in your life. The way to do this is to be “faithful in the little” (Matthew 25:23). Remain faithful in the little, giving priority to the kingdom of God. Then the Spirit will enable you, strengthen you, and increase your giftings for the glory of God as He wills.
In terms of seeing “visions”, – seeing visions, is not an indicator of your maturity in Christ or being deeper in the things of God. If the Holy Spirit “wills”, then you will receive visions. More important than these is your love for God and His bride, the church. Outwardly signs and wonders should never evaluate your spiritual sign of growth. Instead, it must be measured by your love for Him and if you are willing to sacrifice all for Him. Do you desire to spend time with Him, do you desire to pray and be lead by Him, do you desire to worship Him in all you do, do you desire to study the word of God and understand it, do you desire to stand up for the truth even if it costs your everything?
Again, it is good to seek after all spiritual gifts, but first, examine the root reason for doing so. Is it for self-exaltation, or is it for the building up of the body of Christ? Every believer has gifts from the Holy Spirit. Still, to identify what it is and increase it, you must begin by loving God and seeking to do everything for His glory. As you do so and remain faithful in the little, these gifting will be manifested in your life, and you will see them at work mightily. As you do, God will open up and lead you to bear more fruit for the kingdom of God. Amen!
So do not focus on the manifestation of the gifts themselves, rather on your love for God and being a faithful servant in the house of God. As you do, the manifestation of gifts will be the result. The body of Christ is diverse, and the Holy Spirit will apportion gifts accordingly. Continue to desire the gifts of God, and as you gaze on Christ, may your heart’s desire be as in John 3:30, saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Amen!