Why Most People Misunderstand Spiritual Gifts

I once attended a worship service where the worship leader finished the worship set, sat down on the floor beside the pulpit, flapped her arms and clucked like a chicken, then rolled off of the stage where she continued to cluck periodically while the pastor was preaching.  Whenever she clucked extremely loud, the pastor would chuckle and say, “Don’t mind her.  It doesn’t bother me.  She’s just practicing her spiritual gift.”

Fortunately, her “spiritual gift” wore off just in time to lead the closing song.

Wow.

I believe that all of the spiritual gifts are valid for today (although I’ve never seen chicken clucking listed), but I do think that most people have a misunderstanding of spiritual gifts.

The Definition of a Spiritual Gift

A spiritual gift is a special ability, given by the Holy Spirit to every believer at conversion by the Holy Spirit, to share His love and strengthen the body of Christ.* 

If you feel like you don’t understand spiritual gifts, you’re not alone.  Apparently, there have been misunderstandings about spiritual gifts as long as there have been spiritual gifts.  The Apostle Paul even wrote:

Now about the gifts of the Spirit,brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 1 Corinthians 12:1 NIV

Most people tend to think that God gives them spiritual gifts for their own benefit.  God loves us, right?  So, doesn’t it make sense that He would give us spiritual gifts to help us succeed in life?  However, the Bible actually indicates that the opposite is true.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10 NLT

My pastor will often have every one read this scripture aloud with him, but will then insert the wrong words at the end, like this:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to “make a lot of money.”

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to “make yourself look good in front of others.”

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to “get ahead in life.”

People always laugh, but he makes a good point when he does this, especially when he has them read it one last time the correct way:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 

God wants us to use the gifts He has given us to serve one another, not ourselves.

Many years ago, a man walked up to me and vigorously pumped my arm.  He said, “Bob Smith, Evangelist!”  He then proceeded to tell me all about his ministry, but never once did he try to introduce me to Christ.  What’s wrong with this picture?

God gives us spiritual gifts so that we may serve one another, not so that we could strut around like a peacock, showing off to the rest of the world.

*Definition found in S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik Rees

 

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