How Our Understanding of Spiritual Gifts Impacts Our Service


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. (ESV) 1 Corinthians 12:4–7

 Having served with and on many different teams on this perfectly created biosphere during the course of my fifty plus years of my existence, I have come to the realization that doing ministry is challenging. Team ministry is uniquely challenging because sin has an ugly way of rearing its head and messing with us. Our natural inclination is to elevate and even overestimate our importance to the team, to God and His kingdom. It is so easy to believe that the very life and fruitfulness of the ministry rises and falls on our spiritual gifts alone. The truth of the matter is that a fruitful God-pleasing ministry does not contain one dominate gift nor gift-recipient, like a good salad the perfect team and ministry has more than one recognizable ingredient. A good salad is not all lettuce or dominated by onions or garlic unless you are trying to keep people or vampires away. An effective ministry team like a good salad encompassing a wide variety of flavors and gifts. Each spiritual gift is unique and retains its distinctness but when mixed into a well-oiled team packs and incredible kingdom punch that can meet human hurts and needs in a holistic way, that one single gift could never do.

As a background text for this post, we will dig into the issues the apostle Paul was facing the church in Corinth. The believers in that church were fighting over spiritual gifts. You may have been in a situation where there are people on your team who believe their gifts are far superior to anyone else’s gifts on the team and they have no problem reminding the team how gifted they are. People tend to get enamored with the gifts that are more public. The gifted orator, the dynamic teacher, shrewd administrator and overlook the people whose gifts are behind the scene, but are critical to the success of the ministry. Gifts like hospitality, the ability to welcome the stranger and make them feel like a part of the family.  The organizer, who has the ability to take the leaders vision and work out the details of what it’s takes to make this dream a reality.  The volunteer coordinators, who can get people to give up their free time to come and join you on a greater mission for the kingdom.  In the next two weeks join me on an adventure and learn six lessons about spiritual gifts.

Paul establishes the foundations of his answer in six ways. We will cover three in this post and three in the following post.

  1. It is important not to be ignorant about spiritual gifts (v. 1).

The Greek word Paul uses in verse 1 means ‘spiritual matters’ but verse 4 and Paul uses the Greek word charisma to distinguish the shifting of the discussion to spiritual gifts.

The Corinthian pagans should serve as a caution to the church. Their pagan background shows how easy it is to become carried away in jubilant worship and lead astray by a flashy, charismatic orator, even one who is articulating falsehoods in the name of a false god. Thus, Paul is warning the people not to be blindly inspired by the gifts and ignore who it is that is the giver of the gifts, namely God. Our message must be inspired by the Spirit of God.  Our gifts must only be used to share with the world the saving message of the Christ and Him crucified. The truth of God’s word is our test for whether the gifts we possess are being used to the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

  1. We share one common Faith (1 Corinthians 12:1–3).

A nationwide poll was taken in the United States on religious questions. When asked whether they believed in God, 95 percent of those polled answered “yes.” When asked whether religion in any way affected their politics and their business, 54 percent said “no.” They had a belief, but they did not have a directing faith. Faith is action. Faith encompasses the entire spectrum of life’s encounters and experiences.
No true Christian could call anyone but Christ “Lord,” so this was a definite test of whether or not a person was saved. It is only by the Spirit that we can confess Christ as Lord.[1]

  1. We serve the same God (1 Corinthians 12:4–6).

The church is not a gallery where we exhibit the finest of Christians. No, it is a school where we educate and encourage imperfect Christians.[2]
The church has been blessed with diversity and bounded together in unity by our God. While our personalities and our gifts all differ, yet they work together for the health of the body of believers, the Church. We have been gifted at our baptism with gifts from the Holy Spirit (v. 4).  Each of us has been called into service by the same Lord Jesus Christ (v. 5).  Each of us shares in the workings of the same Father (v. 6).

As we serve with these band of brothers and sister in God’s kingdom it is helpful to keep us grounded to remember why we serve.  We don’t serve to puff ourselves up.  We serve because we hold to one common faith.  We have one common baptism.  We serve the one and only one unique Savior, Jesus Christ.  This common good is what unites us and binds us together into the perfect team.

[1]  Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[2]  Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

12 thoughts on “How Our Understanding of Spiritual Gifts Impacts Our Service

  1. Carlene W. says:

    Keith it is ever so important to remember that we are all part of one body. The body of Christ. If we miss that, then we have truly missed the reason for ministering to others. I love that as part of the church, my gifts help to further the Kingdom, but in no way can I or you do it alone. Loving the Lord and sharing all of our gifts create a common good. I am thankful I am part of a body that has innumerable gifts all working together. Thank you so much for sharing your views. God Bless You!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. rubiescorner says:

    Hello.Some are no longer using their gifts in their churches. I believe even so, we have gifts that are given, and useable somehow elsewhere. The gifts and callings of God are not revocable. Thank God. He is patient, and I believe if you are gifted, it is because it fits your personality, and you. God prepared you long ago for this gifting. At times I see them abused, but other times I see people holding back. If we are the Body of Christ, each of us has something to offer. Knowing who we are in Christ helps. Some sit back, others get involved. I hope more are led by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. rubiescorner says:

        This is significant, but some still are not using their gifting in their local church. I am on the internet, because I want to find other Christians, and bring light of God’s love through my writing. I love to share Christ with my audience, but at other times, I write about hobbies, and other things. I believe it is important to keep using the gifts God has given us. I say gifts, because at times I see He is trying one out as I write. There is a need to become transparent, but then at times we have to go soft in this because people become hurt if you speak truthfully. I have, and then I see if the person is alright. Offense happens so easily. I am reminded of the passage, “This kind does not come out but by prayer and fasting.” At times one has to fast and pray for the power behind the task you face to be effective. I used to think the healings, and gifts of God were not for this time. I do not believe that God has stopped pouring out the Holy Spirit of truth. I believe believing is simple, and the truth. God speaks to us when we ask a question that requires an answer. Like when I was challenged to Hear Him right then, when my friend and I prayed about our callings. God answered clearly. I heard, “Teacher.” We asked, and she heard, “Nurse.” I believe God fuels us with His Presence when we take the time to soak in the Word, and pray more than usual. My friend needs prayer, so I promised to take time for three days. It isn’t constant, but I am praying more. If God gives gifts, I believe we should find a way to use them. If it is tongues, I believe it can be a private praying with power for a season of time that will pull individuals out of their problems. I don’t think any gift is wasted if we accept it, and use it humbly. The gifts and callings of God are not revocable. They are there for good reason.

        Liked by 1 person

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