Spiritual Gifts

How Should We Use Our Spiritual Gifts Within the Church?

a group of Christian women at a church social event in Prescott AZ

In light of our current sermon series from 1 Corinthians, spiritual gifts have been at the forefront of our minds at Firm Foundation Bible Church, and subsequently in many of our conversations. Pastor Lloyd did a great job recently of pointing out that we should be using our gifts to build up the body. This consideration was our focus for several weeks during Flocks, giving us much to discuss but also raising several questions.

I would like to attempt to answer a couple of those questions, in the hopes of giving us healthy direction in the utilization of spiritual gifts in the church.

What is My Spiritual Gift?

One of the things I find so encouraging and love about our church is that nobody is objecting to using a gift to build up the church. Nobody is saying they are too busy. Nobody is saying they don’t have one. Nobody is saying they can’t serve. Everyone is hearing these sermons and is walking away willing and even eager to serve. The only question arising is, “So then, what is MY spiritual gift?” What a great place to start!

Before answering that question, I will start by saying what a spiritual gift is not.

A spiritual gift is not necessarily a talent or skill. We all have talents and learned skills and honed trades and crafts. These can be used to help others within the church without a doubt. If I’m a plumber, and someone within the church has a plumbing emergency, I most certainly can, and should, lend a helping hand.

Acts 4:34 describes a church where no one was in need, because everyone in the church was contributing in different ways to meet the needs of others. This is definitely an attribute of a healthy church, but the ability to fix a car, or sing, or organize are things that the lost world can do, and oftentimes with a seemingly higher skill level.

They are skills by the grace of God, as all things come from him, but they are not spiritual gifts.

According to 1 Corinthians 12, a spiritual gift is given by the Holy Spirit and as he wills (vv.6, 11) for the common good of the body (v.7).

If we conflate these two things, “learned/honed skills” and “gifts,” it’s very easy for our service in the church to begin with us: “What am I good at? What can I do?”

But a better starting point would be to ask the question “Where is there a need?” If we begin there, God will equip us to serve in such a way so as to meet that need. And what would that look like? The Holy Spirit, giving us an ability, as He wills, for the common good. *That* is a spiritual gift.

“It’s very easy for our service in the church to begin with us: ‘What am I good at? What can I do?’ But a better starting point would be to ask the question ‘Where is there a need?'”

Discovering My Gifts vs. Serving to Meet Needs

Consider the text we’ve been walking through: We are always to be considering others over ourselves. If that is the case, why would Paul tell us the starting point of service to others is to look to ourselves? He wouldn’t! We should continually be looking to Christ, and considering one another.

This is yet another reason for being tied to the local church. The utilization of spiritual gifts hinges on being around people to build up in the first place. Upon conversion, God endowed you with spiritual gifts for the edification and building up of the body. Any believer not willing to commit to the local church, in effort and attendance, is being a poor steward of the gifts God has given them. What “our gifts are” is far less important than who we build up with them. Our church involvement seems more critical than knowing precisely what our gifts are.

So if we are open to the idea that a spiritual gift is granted by the Spirit for the building up of the Church, then our questions will be less fixed on self and focused instead on others. We will go from “What is my gift?” to “What is my brother’s need?”

This though-process shift will invariably have ramifications on the answer to our next question, which has been kicked around recently at Firm Foundation: “How do I use my spiritual gift in the body of Christ?” The moment we stop looking at self and look to meet the needs of others, we will naturally begin to serve others and address their needs. And this will be happening by the power of the Spirit.

But it begins with relationships in the church. We can’t begin to help others, or meet needs, or carry one another’s burdens if we don’t know others, or know their needs. This must happen organically. This must be the result of spending time with people, being open and honest, listening, caring, etc.

“The moment we stop looking at self and look to meet the needs of others, we will naturally begin to serve others and address their needs. And this will be happening by the power of the Spirit.”

While modern inventions and technology (such as using an app to network and connect people) can aid in the efforts of meeting needs, this is in no way a replacement for all of the Bible’s “one another” commands that require real people having real interactions with other real people. Utilizing technology in our social media age might make the church run like a well-oiled machine, but the church is not a machine. God’s church is an organism. A living, breathing organism. This requires organic, authentic relationships in a community.

I’m confident that if we spent our time and energy investing in people, not apps, and not in considering what we think our giftings are, when our time expires and we breathe our last, we will have lived a life so full of service, by the power of the Spirit, for the common good, that we will leave behind a legacy in our local church.

What Is the Purpose of My Spiritual Gift?

The last thing I want to consider is the ultimate purpose of these gifts.

The purpose of spiritual gifts is the building up of the church. But the purpose of the building up of the church is to make us all complete and more Christlike (Eph 4.11-16).

However not even this is the end goal.

The ultimate purpose brings us to the old catechism question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, of course, is to glorify God. So our giftings, as they are given to us by the Spirit, for the building up of others, is ultimately for the glory of 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.”

So it should come as no surprise and be no mystery that spiritual gifts begin with Christ and end with Christ. It is Christ who has redeemed us, giving us new hearts, grafting us into a new family—one we care for, one we seek to know, one we sacrifice for, and one we serve. And we do all of this not for us, not for them, but ultimately through and for Christ.

Firm Foundation Bible church in Prescott Valley AZ member Joel Rider

About the Author

Joel Rider has been a member at Firm Foundation since 2021 and has studied at Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary, which is in his hometown of Memphis, TN. He is currently self-employed as an independent cabinet installer and serves customers in and around Prescott, Flagstaff, and Phoenix. Joel and his wife Kristen have been married since 2006 and have five children, Montana, Lily, Micaiah, Ivy, and Asher. More from Joel ⟶

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