What are spiritual gifts? We talk about them a lot in our churches. We ask people if they know what their spiritual gift is, and if so, are they using their gift. We pass out spiritual gift inventory assessments to help people discern their gift. Spiritual gifts are simply gifts—or skills—that the Holy Spirit gives believers to use for God’s glory.

There are many spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. In fact, there are lists in four different passages. But the lists are not identical in each passage (Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4). There is some overlap, but there are unique gifts in each list as well. I believe this teaches us that there is not a rigid list of gifts. For example, in our modern society there are people who are gifted technologically, working in the AV ministry, the church website, social media, and graphic design. These are not gifts mentioned by the Apostle Paul, but they could very well be gifts given by the Holy Spirit for use in the church body and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

It is important to recognize one’s spiritual gift so that it can be used for the benefit of others. If you do not know what your gift is, how will you use it? But our gifts are not some big secret. They are rarely things we didn’t know we could do or would enjoy doing. Spiritual gifts typically are things we have been wired for our entire lives because our sovereign God knew those gifts would be cultivated by the Spirit after our conversion.

So we should not think of our spiritual gifts as something God gives us, as if God says, “Now that he has been saved, I will give him the gift of teaching.” Rather, we should think of the gift as the Spirit Himself. When we give our lives to God, God gives His Spirit to us. The gift is the Person, God’s own Spirit.

What does that mean? It means that we have God Himself working through us. If you are a teacher, the gift is God teaching through you. If you are an administrator, the gift is God administrating through you. That is not to suggest that we will be as good as God because we are sinful and mortal, but God will do through us all that He wishes to accomplish.

There is no excuse not to use your spiritual gift because the gifts of the Spirit are literally the gift of the Spirit.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

Romans 12:6