This past Sunday (message link here), our pastor observed that when we speak of “spiritual gifts” we really are speaking of Spirit-given gifts. That is one of the points Paul makes in his teaching on gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. One Spirit gives gifts to all followers of Christ.
I thought this was a helpful observation for several reasons:
1. As Rich mentioned, “spiritual” in our culture can mean anything and everything and some of our associations don’t mean what the apostle meant.
2. “Spiritual gifts” may sound like gifts that inhabit some vaguely spiritual part of our lives. “Spirit-given” gifts remind us that these gifts originate in God and not in us.
3. “Spirit-given” gifts are actually gifts expressed through bodily actions like speaking or administering, or caring for physical needs of others. They don’t exist in some vague, ethereal realm but their expression is just as real as baking, writing software, snow-plowing, or painting.
4. “Spirit-given” provokes the question “why”. We might be inclined to just “have” spiritual gifts but when you are entrusted with something you have to ask why it was given to you. Paul makes it clear that these are given to each for the good of all. We can’t keep them to ourselves.
The question for most of us is discovering what gifts we have been given. The SHAPE guide is one way to get at this. Along with this, I’ve found two other ways many people discover their gifts One is when we see something that needs said or done that is patently obvious to us and no one else seems to step forward. What is obvious to us is not always obvious to others and this may be a sign of God’s gifting. On the other hand, sometimes others see what we can’t and one of the gifts we give each other is affirming the gifts we see in another.
What both have in common is throwing ourselves into the life of our community. We may find ourselves doing things we never thought we were capable of, which in fact are “Spirit-given”. Someone recently shared that the “sweet spot” in life is where God’s call and gifting on us, our passions, and the world’s needs meet. Here’s to living in the “sweet spot”!