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
In writing to followers of Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter laid out the premise that every Christian has at least one God-given spiritual gift from His many available gifts. Peter stated that a believer received these spiritual gifts to serve others.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other… It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11)
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, clarified that this variety of spiritual gifts all come from God by way of the Holy Spirit. Through these gifts, which are given to every believer, we serve God by helping and serving one another.
There are several lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament (see Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4). It is helpful to read these lists in order to understand the variety of God’s gifts which He bestows on each and every follower of Christ. However, we should not conclude that these are all the spiritual gifts offered to the body of Christ. Remember, God has given each of us spiritual gifts that make us effective as we serve others in His name.
When we give our life to Christ, we take responsibility for that which we have been given. I believe we can only grasp the responsibility to utilize our gift(s) when we embrace the fact that our lives no longer belong to us. The apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
As we grow in faith, and as the Holy Spirit strengthens us, we humbly acknowledge that our lives are not our own. God knows us. God created us; He knows who we are and every gift He has placed in us. Sometimes we struggle to discover them; sometimes we struggle to find ways to use them, but I suggest we start with prayer. Ask God to help us understand the great value of our gifts. Trust in Him; ask Him to open our eyes and to reveal the needs that are all around us—in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our church, and in our community. Pray that God will open our minds with understanding and ideas on how to become involved. We can trust God to lead us into joyful service to others that will glorify Him.
In the book of Joshua, chapter 3, God led the people of Israel to the Jordan River after they had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. On the other side of the river was the land God had promised to Israel, the land that was to be Israel’s eternal inheritance. The Lord told Joshua that as soon as the priest’s feet touched the water, the flow of water would cease. Joshua 3:15-16 describes this event:
It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflow- ing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
If Joshua or the priests had doubted the Lord’s word and had believed it was impossible to cross the swollen river, they would never have known the joy of entering the Promised Land. The Lord says to you and all those who are followers of Jesus Christ: “I have equipped you with supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit to serve others and glorify my name.” The Lord would have you take the first step of faith—step into the water and trust Him to open the way and lead you into fruitful service.
I invite you to read Jesus’ parable of a master and his three servants found in Matthew 25:14-30. Replace the gold or silver given by the master to his servants with gifts of the Holy Spirit. May we never hear the Master say to us, “You wicked and lazy servant!” (25:26). Instead, I hope one day we will all hear our Master say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (25:21, 23)
by Pastor Emeritus Paul Fahnestock
All Scripture quotations in this article are from the New Living Translation.
Suggested further study
Spiritual Gifts sermon by John Piper
(available transcribed or as audio)
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.