How do I know if I have Spiritual Gifts?

by Jennifer Whitaker
in Blog

How do I know if I have spiritual gifts?  How do I know what they are?  How do I use my gifts?

If you’re like me, you’ve asked yourself these questions a time or two in your Christian life.  Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” So, we can be confident that we have the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation (Eph. 1:13).  We can trust God’s promise that we have the Spirit, and thus, have the gifts of the Spirit.  In fact, the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control -- are evidences of a life lived in step with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  These are things that all believers’ lives should reflect as we submit our lives to becoming more like Christ. 

But what about those spiritual gifts? 

There are many passages throughout the New Testament that list or outline the spiritual gifts.  The apostle Paul tells us things like prophecy, wisdom, teaching, service, giving, leading, acting mercifully, evangelism, distinguishing between spirits, healing, working miracles, and speaking in and interpreting tongues are all gifts of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16).  But how do I know which of these I have?  How can I identify the gifts given to me so I can be most effective in my service to God?

I sometimes find myself trying to shoe-horn the talents I have and the situation I’m in into one of those listed gifts.  But I can tell you, friend, this is not the right approach!  1 Corinthians 12:4-11 tells us, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”

In light of what Paul tells us about the beautiful diversity of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:12-31), and the variety of gifts the Holy Spirit gives us, I believe we are to use the abilities, talents, and skills God gave us and the situations He puts us in to serve Him.  We are to use our unique personality, our varied experiences, our own personal story to further the kingdom of God.  When God sends a person into your life to whom you can be a blessing, do it!  If you’re presented with an opportunity to use your skills to serve in some capacity, whether it’s in your church, your family, your community, or even helping a stranger, do it! 

You may be saying to yourself, “But I don’t even know what my gifts are.  How can I use my gifts to serve God unless I know what they are?” I say to you, just start moving forward.  This week, make someone a meal.  That’s an act of service.  Encourage a friend.  That’s exhortation and wisdom.  Pray for that rude driver who nearly took you out on Powers Boulevard.  That’s acting in faith.

Still at a loss? Ask a trusted Christian friend if they see spiritual gifts in your life that you may be missing.  Can you sing?  Join the worship team! That’s leadership and contributing to worship.  Are you handy?  Use your skills to help someone.  That’s an act of mercy. Has God taught you something new as you study His word? Share it with others!  That’s wisdom, prophecy, and exhortation.  You’ll find that it’s easier to steer a moving ship – and that the more you use the gifts God gave you, the more sensitive you’ll be to the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus gives the parable of the talents.  In this story, the master entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money and goes away on a trip.  Upon the master’s return, the servants with five and two talents have each invested wisely and doubled the master’s money, while the servant with one talent has simply buried the talent in the ground.  The master is, of course, pleased with the diligence of the servants who increased the master’s wealth, and angry with the servant who squandered the opportunity.  God has given each of us unique gifts and abilities.  Don’t be that foolish servant!  Don’t bury your gifts in the sand.  Get out there and use your spiritual gifts for God’s kingdom, and don’t be surprised when you see God’s overflowing blessing in your life.