There are no closing hours on your giftings – they are there, waiting to be discovered, unwrapped, used. There’s never been a better time to whip out your giftings and spread more of God’s love around! The world needs it. Many businesses are shutting down and our travel is being limited if we live in countries affected by Covid 19, but our giftings need to be opened up and activated in every way possible.
I’m fascinated with the fact that God gives us giftings that we wouldn’t necessarily see as ‘spiritual’ at first glance, and this concept is captured really well in the third passage we’re going to look at. In Part One of this series we looked at the ‘five-fold’ ministry gifts; in Part Two we looked at the ‘nine spiritual giftings’ listed in Corinthians, and now we’re taking a look at gifts that God has given you which don’t fit so much into nice neat categories:
‘For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.’ (Romans 12:4-8).
Prophesying and teaching are mentioned – usually we’d see ‘prophesying’ as one of the nine spiritual gifts (see Part Two for more details) and ‘teaching’ as a five-fold gift, but here they’re placed alongside ‘serving’ and other gifts that most people would think of as ‘less spiritual’, more crossing over into our natural giftings or personality traits: encouragement, giving, leadership and mercy. I think Paul deliberately places a five fold gifting, a ‘gift of the spirit’ and other gifts that don’t fall into those packaged categories beside each other.
I think this passage emphasises that although we might try to make boxes for different types of gifts and different types of giftings, at the end of the day every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17) – even the things that don’t appear to be particularly ‘spiritual’.
Anything that God has empowered you to be good at, when submitted to Him, is a gift or a gifting! It can be developed, given to others, and is of great value to the world, no matter how small or obscure you think your gifting is.
We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because God has given us different measures of grace, right from the outset, so the gift He gives to one person will never be exactly the same as the gift He gives to someone else (even if the general gift is the same e.g. we can all prophesy, but I believe we are all different in the way we outwork that gift, and the niche that God will use us in).
Here’s a closer look at some of the gifts mentioned in the passage above:
Serving: People who have a gift for serving just love doing things for others – you can’t stop them! They’ll see a need, whether it’s a garden that needs weeding, a table that needs wiping, or an older member of the family who needs a bottle of milk. They are aware of moments where someone might need a hand, and they actually get joy from lending a hand. Without the servers – the toilet cleaners, the tea-pourers, the picker-uppers of those who don’t have a car, church – and the world – as we know it wouldn’t really exist. There are many many ways we can develop a gift of serving in the context of being light to a fear-infected world right now; let’s ask our families and neighbours if they need anything.
Encouraging: Encouragers will give you that one text message or that one little pep talk at just the right moment to help you get through the day. They are amazing at looking for things that people are good at – seeing giftings in others, speaking out what they see, and they have a strong sense of empathy that draws them to people who might be going through a bit of a rough day, week, month or year! There have been times in my life where God has sent me encouragers who helped change my entire perspective. Never underestimate the power of this gift. It’s crucial in these times (and any other time really). There are many lonely and hope-depleted people out there. We need you encouragers!
Giving: If you have one of those aunties who won’t let you leave the house until you’ve eaten the biscuits she offers, had a cuppa and taken a bag of ‘leftover’ goods with you, she might just have a gift of giving! If you often get joy from giving money, goods, or other things to people, you might just have a gift of giving! Again, the church as we know it and the world as we know it wouldn’t exist without this gift. Those who have the gift of giving will have their internal switchboards lighting up with happiness right now as there are so many opportunities to give to those in need.
Leadership: Those gifted in leadership are sometimes obvious – the one who can’t help but take the reigns even in a small group. These ones love facilitating meetings, making decisions, helping teams to run smoothly. However, I’ve learned over the years that some of the most gifted leaders actually take a while to realise that they are gifted in this area (and others may not see leadership in them at first) because the best leaders are servant-hearted; God loves to appoint those who actually want to champion the giftings of those that they lead, making space for each person to use their strengths. So gifted leaders don’t always look like the loudest, most confident people in the group; sometimes their anointing is much more subtle and they will be strong influencers of culture at grass-roots level, bringing an atmosphere of kindness and uplifting others wherever they are. Leaders are crucial to any church, from ‘Senior Leaders’ to creche leaders, to those who are not officially appointed but who create Jesus-culture wherever they go, and whatever group chat they land in!
Mercy: The one who stops on the street to find out the life story of the homeless person? Merciful. The one who believes the best in everyone and overlooks sins and flaws? Merciful. The one who gives us a second, third, fourth, fifth chance? Merciful. We desperately need people who model the mercy of God in our generation. It’s a quality that speaks volumes about the undeserving, lavish love of God towards us. We love you people who have the gift of mercy! And we need to learn more of your ways in this area. In days like these, our patience is also tested and we need to exercise mercy towards each other on a daily basis.
So with those gifts in mind, and with the main point of the passage in mind – that we all value and honour each other because we all have a very wide variety of giftings, and they’re all important – what are some of the other ‘good gifts’ that you can think of in your own or someone else’s life?
Are you gifted at music? Art? Fixing the car? Teaching older people how to use technology? Creating a safe place for kids to talk about how they feel? Turning a house into a home? Baking? Making room for joy? Listening well? Finding the perfect emoji or GIF to make someone laugh when they read your message? You are just as important as a prophet, an apostle, a teacher or anyone else with any other kind of gifting. Use your ‘good and perfect’ gifts from God while on earth. And honour and receive those around you who have gifts that are different to yours, including your spouse or kids or others you’ve become familiar with – look for their giftings and call them out. Because we’re needed – each one of us, and each one of our gifts.
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