Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Last month, we looked at the baptism in the Holy Spirit; this month, we want to look at the gifts of the Spirit. We want to look at the meaning of each gift, their characteristics, and people's misgivings about them, as well as take a look at a Biblical person with that gift. So, I want to begin by saying that no matter what gift you may have, it is not about you, but the receiver of your gift; for all must be done in love, the greatest gift of all (1 Corinthians 13).
The gift of prophecy is not as much about foretelling the future as it is about insight about people and situations. Prophecy is to encourage, exhort, and comfort people (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). When we think of prophets, we think of the prophets of old, like Isaiah or Jeremiah. We also think that it was for that time only; but God still has a message for His people, His congregation, and the prophet is the messenger to deliver God's message, (Acts 2:14-20, 11:27-28, 21:9, 1 Corinthians 4:13).
The prophet brings about an awareness of God's presence. He has a need to verbally express his message (1 Peter 4:10, 11). He reveals the inner heart and motives; he has the ability to discern character and to identify evil. He is very frank and direct. He is eager to have a person see their blindness. He brings people to accountability, to repentance, and humility. But because of his direct way of bringing about truth, he is considered by others as being harsh. He is judged as being intolerant of others. Because of such a strong desire to convey truth, he may be viewed as one who doesn't listen to others and their point of view.
John the Baptist is a model of a prophet (Luke 3:3-20). Aware of his unworthiness, he wanted to point out others' blindness. He knew he was the voice of God and he depended on scripture to validate his authority. He was direct and frank in his speaking and he looked for repentance.
The gift of exhortation is the ability to minister words and deeds of comfort, encouragement, and counsel to others in such a way that they feel strengthened and helped. They love people and they want God's word to be experienced in others' lives. They have a desire to visualize specific achievements and give steps of action. They have the ability to see how trials can produce new levels of maturing. They enjoy when people take steps of action to meet needs. They have insight into human experience that can be applied to the Bible. They take delight in personal gatherings that bring about new insight.
People view their steps of action as over-simplifying the problem, and their urgency in giving steps of action may appear as having more faith in the steps than in God. Their use of Scripture for practical application may be taken out of context. People even sometimes feel that they do not even have awareness of others' feelings.
Here are six examples of Exhortation: how one ought to live and how to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1), how to live a life worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:11), how to progress in love and how to live so there is respect among people (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12), and how to face trials (Acts 14:22).
Barnabas had the gift of exhortation. His message appealed to the wise. He was concerned with how people lived. His message was personal and practical, and he did not give up on John Mark, but exhorted him (Hebrews 12:5, Acts 11:23, 14:22, Acts 9).
The gift of teaching is the special ability to acquire and communicate spiritual truths relevant to the needs of the body in such a way that others will be motivated to learn and to respond. One has not taught unless one has learned and so teachers believe that their gift is foundational to all other gifts. They place an accuracy on words. They delight in research in order to validate truth; in fact, they delight more in the research than presenting the lesson.
But because they place such emphasis on Scriptural interpretation, they tend to appear to neglect the practical application. People tend to think that they rely on their research more than the Holy Spirit. With all that detail they research with, their listeners sometime find it all unnecessary.
Paul was a good example of a teacher; he felt it was most important (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). He brought the Hebrew Scriptures and the Apostolic teachings together. He studied and researched the scriptures for three years in Arabia and while he was in prison. He has a burden for truth.
The gift of serving is all about meeting needs and showing demonstrations of love. A server is one who sees what needs to be done and does it. They have the ability to remember the likes and dislikes of people. They are aware and can detect and meet the needs of people, and they meet them as quickly as possible. They begin a job and they finish it. They just don't seem like they tire because of the joy that they get in helping people. They consider the here and now versus long range planning, for it is the here and now that needs the help.
Because they have this need to help people, they tend to appear as being pesty; and because of their eagerness to help, it sometimes appears that it is all from their own self interest. Many times they suffer from lack of appreciation, and they tend to get upset with others who do not have the same motivation.
Martha was a good example of a server (Luke 10:38-42, John 12:2). Martha did the work herself, even though she tried to make Mary do the same as her. She had too many things to do because she couldn't say "NO." She concentrated more on the task than on the person she was serving. She saw the short range goal of cooking a meal for Jesus rather than on the long-range goal of discipleship.
The gift of giving is the desire and the need to share with others one's life and even resources. They have the ability to make wise purchases and investments. They have the desire to quietly give to ministries and projects. They see needs that others may not see. He finds enjoyment when he hears that his gift was an answer to prayer.
Their dealings with money may appear as though they focus only on the temporal. Their giving to a ministry may appear that they want to control the work of that ministry.
Here are five examples: sharing material things (Luke 3:11), sharing spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11), sharing finances from one's own wages (Ephesians 4:8), sharing oneself, and sharing the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Abraham was a good example of one who gave. Abraham generously gave to others (Genesis 13:9-10), he had no trouble tithing (Genesis 14:20), and he wanted God to receive all the glory for his giving. He would sacrifice all if he knew God required it of him, for he was called a friend of God (James 2:23). He was also concerned about the price of things and knew their value (Genesis 2:3).
The gift of organization can be considered a leadership position. They are people who stand before others; they give aid and facilitate. They have the ability to clarify long-range goals. They see the bigger picture and desire to complete the task as quickly as possible. They are aware of resources. They delegate what they know and who they know will get the job done.
They assume the responsibility and endure reaction from others in order to get the job done, and because of this many people see them as callous. Because they delegate the work, many see them as lazy. Sometimes people think they are being used because they tend not to explain why something is being done a certain way.
Nehemiah was an organizer. He had a special zeal for the cause (Nehemiah 1:4). He saw the overall picture and knew what needed to be done (Nehemiah 1:12-15). He delegated the work (Nehemiah 2:16-18, 7:1-2). He organized the resources (Nehemiah 3) and he worked under opposition (Nehemiah 5:1-13, 7:3-4, 13:11, chapter 4, chapter 6). He helped to make things go easy for others (Nehemiah 5:14-19).
The gift of mercy is the compassion and heart of God. It is the outward manifestation of pity. The one who shows mercy helps those in their time of trouble. They have an understanding of people in their distress and they understand what they are going through and help to relieve the pain and hurt. They are sensitive to words and actions and they discern true motives of people.
People view them many times as being weak because of how they speak, because they generally are not firm in their speech. They appear to only respond and act on their emotions and not by reason.
The Good Samaritan was an example of one who showed mercy. He had compassion on the injured man and he wanted to do something to help the injured man. He even spent his own resources to help. Who he was or what he was did not make any difference to him. We are to put on a heart of mercy, but these people automatically have this heart naturally.
Some examples of mercy in the Bible are Acts 9:27, 9:36, 16:33-34, and Romans 12:8.
The Bible speaks of other gifts in its list of gifts from 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11, and Romans 12:6-8. There are other gifts like:
Wisdom: Acts 6:1-6, 15:13-22; 1 Corinthians 12:8; James 1:5-6
Word of Faith (revelation which the receiver must act upon in faith): John 4:51-53, 21:6; Luke 17:12-15
Words of knowledge: Acts 5:1-11, 9:11-18; 1 Corinthians 2:14, 12:8; 2 Corinthians 11:6; Colossians 2:2-3
Hospitality: Acts 16:15, 21:4, 7, 8, 21; Romans 12:13, 16:23; 1 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:1, 2; 1 Peter 4:9
Miracles: Acts 5:1-11, 9:36-42, 19:11-20, 20:7-12; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28
Healings: Acts 3:1-10, 5:15, 20:9-12; 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28; James 5:14; 1 Peter 2:24
Tongues: Acts 2:1-13, 10:44-46, 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28; 1 Corinthians 14:13-19
Interpretations: 1 Corinthians 12:10, 30; 1 Corinthians 14:13, 26-28
Distinguishing of spirits: 1 Corinthians 12:10
Evangelists: Acts 5:42, 8:4-8, 26-38, 14:21, 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5
Pastors: John 10:11-14; Acts 20:28-32; Ephesians 4:11-15; Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:3-5; James 3:1
Apostles: Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-4; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:11; Galatians 2:7-10
"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we who are many are one body in Messiah and individually members of one another and since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them accordingly" (Romans 12:4-6).
I hope you see the need to seek the Holy Spirit and ask for the gifts, for God has so much for His people and He wants us to serve Him not only in power and might, but by the Holy Spirit.