From This Point Forward
Mining Your Spiritual Gifts
by David Jeremiah
In 1991 a huge deposit of natural diamonds was found at a location in a remote corner of Canada's Northwest Territory, about 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle. By 1998, the EKATI mine was operational and it was estimated that just one pit would yield an astonishing number of diamonds, seven or eight million carats. In fact, from 1998 through 2009, 40 million carats were produced from the mine's six open pits. This discovery has caused diamond diggers from around the world to rush to the Canadian wilderness to stake claims and sink mines.
Mathew Hart, author of a book on diamonds, said that diamond producers "basically have convinced people to buy a product worth nothing. You can’t drive it. You can’t make it into clothes. You can't roof your house with it. It's just a fantastically wonderful, glorious blaze of something that has no value whatever except that it looks really great."
The same God who sprinkled those beautiful diamonds beneath the Canadian tundra has also deposited a storehouse of spiritual gifts for His children to unearth in their service for Him. Ephesians 4:6-7 says: "There is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all. However, He has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ" (New Living Translation).
What Gift Do You Have?
A "spiritual gift" is more than "a wonderful, glorious blaze of something that has no value whatever except that it looks really great." God's spiritual gifts to us can best be described as special abilities He gives to be used in His service.
Perhaps, for example, you have the gift of evangelism. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll be preaching in great stadiums to thousands of people. Interestingly, there was only one person in the New Testament specifically called an "evangelist"; and that was a deacon, Philip, in Acts 21:8, who is best known for winning to Christ the Ethiopian official in Acts 8:26-40. We're all to "do the work of an evangelist" wherever we are (2 Timothy 4:5); but some people seem especially effective in leading others to Christ. They can't help but share Christ wherever they go, both personally and publicly, often with visible results.
One man with this gift makes visits every week for his church; another keeps Gospel literature in his briefcase to give to customers and coworkers; one woman organized a weekly lunchtime evangelistic Bible study at her office building; a couple with this gift spend their summer conducting backyard Bible clubs for children; another man takes an annual missions trip to India to do personal work during evangelistic campaigns there. Thank God for those with the gift of evangelism.
Or you might have the gift of teaching. While we're all to be models, mentors, and teachers, some people are particularly effective at this. They may be working in the children's ministries of their church, teaching an adult Sunday School class, leading a home Bible study, or training workers at a summer youth camp. Those who attended a Christian college or seminary usually remember one exceptional professor who made a life-changing impact through the power of his or her lectures. It was undoubtedly a man or woman with the God-given gift of teaching.
The Bible also talks about the gift of giving. Naturally, all of us are to be faithful givers to God's work, but some people seem to have an unusual ability to make and give money to finance gospel endeavors. Leslie Flynn put it this way in his book, 19 Gifts of the Spirit: "The gift of giving is the God-given ability, perhaps to earn, certainly to give money for the progress of God's work with such care and cheer that the recipients are fortified."
All Christians should honor God with their income, and all of us should tithe; yet some seem to have an exceptional ability to give and bless the progress of God's work.
According to 1 Corinthians 12:28, there are people who have the gift of "helps." This is an ability to come alongside others, helping them do what God has called them to do. Often this involves such practical things as stuffing envelopes, answering phones, preparing food, and mowing grass. These workers are often in the background, but they are heroes in heaven.
There are many other spiritual gifts. In Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and 12:28-30, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:10-11, the Bible lists nearly 20 different "spiritual gifts," including the gifts of mercy, leadership, and wisdom. Since none of the lists are exactly the same, there may not be a set number or an exact listing of gifts. God gives many different kinds of abilities and opportunities to His children, and our job is to get to work, faithfully serving as He leads us.
Unearthing Your Spiritual Gift
Perhaps you're asking, "But what is my spiritual gift?" According to the Barna Research Group, 69 percent of American Christians have heard of spiritual gifts but don't know what their own spiritual gift is. How do you discover your unique gift or gifts?
Some churches offer gift analysis tests, and those can be helpful as you begin to discover the abilities and passions God has given you for ministry. You can also ask your friends and fellow-worshipers for their opinion of your strengths and abilities. But perhaps the best way to unearth your spiritual gift is just to get busy. Ask the Lord to show you how you should serve Him, then get involved in His work. It will become increasingly clear how He has gifted you as you grow in Christ, volunteer for different ministries at church, and find opportunities to extend and strengthen His kingdom.
Diamonds are unearthed from below, but spiritual gifts are dispensed from above. Just as diamonds are rough and uncut when first discovered, your spiritual gift may need to be developed and polished. But don’t be discouraged; just get busy with the opportunity currently at hand, and you'll gradually grow more and more comfortable with what God has called you to do with the abilities He has given you.
Here's the way the apostle Peter put it: "God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:10-11, NLT).
A. T. Pierson, a Bible teacher from an earlier era, said: "Everyone has some gift, therefore all should be encouraged. No one has all the gifts, therefore all should be humble. All the gifts are for one Body, therefore all should be harmonious: All the gifts are needful, therefore all should be faithful."
As you find and use your spiritual gift, you'll be richer than the wealthiest miner in the wilds of Canada. And as you serve Christ, He will use you in ways that outlast the brightest stars and outshine the most dazzling diamonds on earth.