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We all know people who have special talents. Some have the ability to do wonders with music. Others may have a talent for handicrafts such as quilting or sewing. Some can take a canvas and a paintbrush and create a masterpiece. For others a piece of wood becomes a beautiful kitchen table. I have known people who can take a group of total strangers and organize them into cohesive team. Most individuals have talents of one kind or another. Are these things or abilities the same thing as a “spiritual gift?”
I am one of those who believes that every talent or ability has its source in God. The writer of James said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who
does not change like shifting shadows.”
It is God’s desire that each of us would take whatever talent we have and make it available to him. These things are to be a part of our sacrificial giving to God just as surely as when we put money into the offering plate.
But talents are not the same as a “spiritual gift.”
What makes a spiritual gift distinct from a talent is that God owns the results. A talent can be used for good or bad. The person has a choice in how a talent is used. A spiritual gift is an empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual gift and will often work through a talent or ability.
Let me try an explain. A person may have the natural talent of public speaking and has no fear of standing before a crowd and can be very persuasive. It is a talent that can be used advocate anything from abstaince to legalized prostitution.
It is a talent that can be used effectively in the church. It is when the Holy Spirit gives us our spiritual gift that the individual talent takes on real life. For example if the Spirits’ gift is “compassion” then the talent of public speaking can be used to move people to respond to a specific need. If one has the spiritual gift of prophesy then one may be lead to preach.
A person may have the talent of music, or sewing, or medicine, or agriculture--bestow the gift of evangelism or helps and you will see these abilities used to lead others to Christ.
What makes spiritual gifts distinct is that God owns the results. God gets the credit, because what is accomplished is beyond our own abilities. This is why I often say that when we clap in church we are not applauding a performance or a person. That is lifting up a talent instead of giving thanks to God for what has happened. He owns the results.
This leads us to another question,
What are the Spiritual Gifts mentioned in the Bible?
The New Testament lists the gifts of the Spirit in four passages: Romans 12:6-8; I Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Peter 4: 10-11 (Peter is a duplicate of the other three). The Ephesians text lists five: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. 1 Corinthians 12 lists the additional gifts: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, helps and administration. Romans 12 adds these: leadership, exhortation, giving and mercy. As you can see, depending on how you break them down there are somewhere around 19 various gifts.
Each of these gifts are special in their own way. We do not have time to go into a discussion of what each of these various gifts involve. What we need
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