Summary: There are many different types of gifts and all are important. but more important is the purpose of the gifts - building up the body.
ILL" diversity of cameras (film, digicam, dSLR, phone cameras), all with different purposes but all having one goal - to take pictures.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF GIFTS
Just like there are many different kinds of tools we can use to do many tasks, there are many different kinds of gifts in the church. In fact, there’s such a diversity of gifts that the Bible has to use all kinds of language to describe them. Even in this one passage, Paul’s language constantly changes. One minute he’s talking about gifts, the next minute things of the Spirit, the next minute manifestations of the spirit.
There are four main lists of gifts in the Bible and guess what? They’re all different! Some overlap, some are completely different. They come with different emphases and different types of gifts. There are even gifts that the New Testament doesn’t mention. Did you know that craftsmanship can be a gift? You won’t find it in any list of gifts in the New Testament, but we find this in Exodus 35.30-36.1:
Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.”
Doesn’t that sound like people who were spiritually gifted? But it’s not in any list.
So, as we approach the gifts, we need to understand that the Bible is less interested in a neat, systematic way of defining the gifts than it is about us understanding the purposes of the gifts and allowing people freedom to minister in their gifts. Like camera users - you can argue about them, or you can just get on with achieving your purpose. We’ll touch on that purpose in a minute, but first, lets have a look at the different kinds of gifts, and then what that means for how and why we use them.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF GIFTS
First of all, from v.4 we can see there are different gifts, service and workings.
’Gifts’, or charisma or charismata in the Greek. These are the abilities we usually think about when we talk about gifts. So someone has a gift of tongues or of leadership or of prophecy or whatever. Paul says, in v.7 that ’to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given,’ which we think means that everyone has at least one gift, and we get a bit worried if we don’t know what that gift is. Actually, Paul’s point isn’t that everyone has a gift, but that there are different kinds of gifts displayed by different people, so we shouldn’t label or categorise people because we don’t think their gift is very worthy, or because we don’t think they have one. These charismatic abilities are only one kind of gift to the church.
Another kind of gift is acts of service. ’Service’ is the same word in the Greek that we get ministry from. Acts of service aren’t about what we’re good at, they’re about what we do. For example, in v.28 Paul talks about gifts of helping and guidance. He doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has a gift for helping, but that when they help, that act of service is a gift! So even if you don’t feel you have a particular ability, the fact that you are serving the church is a gift. Of course, very often it’s as we start to serve where we can that we discover what our ministry abilities, or charismatic gifts’ are! We discover that we’re good at something or that people are particularly helped by certain ministries we do. But even if we don’t discover that, the very act of serving is a gift.
And then there are different kinds of working, which may refer to the activity of God among us - the displays of God’s power. Paul says there are gifts (that’s plural) of healing and miraculous powers. Now, these gifts come through a person, but sometimes the gift is the healing itself, not the ability to heal. Does that make sense? So lets say I have a speaking engagement coming up and lose my voice, but someone prays and I’m healed. That person may never have healed before and never do it again. They don’t have the gift of healing, but never-the-less, the gift of God is that I am healed in that instance. It’s God working in my life that is the gift.