Which comes first, God’s calling or knowing your spiritual gift?
The way most churches approach this today, discovering your spiritual gifts comes first, and then you decide where to serve based on that information. It’s my opinion that that’s 180 degrees off the mark, and this has a profound effect on our churches.
God told Moses to appear before Pharaoh. Moses argued and protested over and over, and finally pleaded, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words” (Exodus 4:10). In other words, “God, that’s not my spiritual gift.”
I love God’s response: “Who makes mouths? Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say” (vv. 11, 12). In other words, “Go and obey. I’ll provide the gifts to do what I’ve called you to do!”
I’ve read and studied all the “gifts” passages in the New Testament and I see several threads weaved through all of them:
- God calls us; spiritual gifts are meaningless outside of his calling on our lives (Ephesians 4:1; Romans 12:1-2).
- God gives us spiritual gifts so that we can serve others (1 Peter 4:10; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
- Spiritual gifts are always discussed within the context of unity, humility, and partnership within Christ’s body (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 12-27; Ephesians 4:2-6, 16; 1 Peter 4:8).
- The environment where spiritual gifts operate is in Christian community. The context of every spiritual gifts passage is how Christ’s body works together in community.
- The purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up Christ’s body, the church, so that he will receive all the glory (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Peter 4:11).