Reading: Loving Our Differences, pp. 21-26.
Key Scripture: "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7).
Key Words: Functional Gifts, Interdependence, Manifestation Gifts, Ministry Gifts, Empowerments.At an early age we begin asking the question "Who am I?" and never stop asking it. Our level of maturity is closely tied to how well we know ourselves. An accurate knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses allows us to know God's particular call on our lives more clearly. Such knowledge brings a stabilizing sense of confidence and direction.
In the last chapter we learned to evaluate who we are in terms of the level of emotional and spiritual maturity we express. In this chapter we will learn to evaluate who we are in terms of the functional gifts God has given us. These gifts serve as the foundation upon which our personalities are structured. They govern the basic ways in which we approach the world and those around us. They influence the style in which we communicate, the roles we choose to play socially, and the way we prioritize our values.
Familiarity with the different functional gifts (and the different ways they are expressed within the family) is the key to "loving our differences." Familiarity with our own particular functional gifts is the key to accepting and loving ourselves. Through such knowledge we can appreciate who we are as God's gift to us. We also can glorify God by becoming better stewards of the spiritual gifts he has given each of us.The Nature of the Functional Gifts
To prepare for the study of the functional gifts, review the answers to these common questions about spiritual gifts.
What are spiritual gifts? There are three misunderstandings about spiritual gifts that should be clarified.Spiritual gifts are not rewards. It is clear from Scripture that spiritual gifts are not rewards earned by good works. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 the Christians of the Corinthian church are said not to "lack any spiritual gift." Yet Paul goes on to state that they are "still worldly" and that their conduct and character leave much to be desired (1 Cor. 3:3-4). In New Testament Greek, spiritual gifts are called charismata or "grace gifts." Like salvation (Rom. 6:23; cf. 5:15), they are unmerited, free gifts distributed sovereignly by God "just as he determines" (1 Cor. 12:11).
Spiritual gifts should not be confused with spiritual fruit. The fruit of the Spirit are virtues or character qualities that believers manifest as they walk according to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18, 22-26). Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are special abilities God gives to believers for service. Bezalel (Ex. 31:2-5), Othniel (Judg. 3:10), and Samson (Judg. 14:6) are Old Testament examples of people whom God temporarily gifted with specific abilities. Gifts of the Spirit should not be confused with the gift of the Spirit. The presence of the indwelling Spirit of God is common to all believers (Acts 2:38-39; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6). The gifts and abilities given by the Spirit differ from believer to believer "according to the grace given us" (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:4, 5).
Who gives spiritual gifts? God is the source of all spiritual gifts (James 1:17). The giving of spiritual gifts is a process in which the entire Trinity cooperates: "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men" (1 Cor. 12:4-5, 11; Eph. 4:4-6).Who receives spiritual gifts? Every believer possesses spiritual gifts: "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7). Every Christian is called by God for service in his kingdom and is therefore equipped by God for such service. "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10; cf. Eph. 4:7-8). It is important to realize that because every believer is gifted by God with spiritual gifts, each of us is important and has the potential to contribute to others (1 Cor. 12:14-26).
Why do we receive spiritual gifts? We are given spiritual gifts "for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7). In the Bible, spiritual life is lived out in community: "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Cor.12:27). Paul's great analogy of the church as a living body made up of many different parts underscores the interdependence of believers. God has ordained the diversity of spiritual gifts among believers, because a body must have diverse organs to function (1 Cor. 12:17-18). Our spiritual gifts are complementary, and we are to supply what our brothers and sisters lack.
The ultimate purpose of such enablements is "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12-13).
How many kinds of spiritual gifts are there? Different lists of spiritual gifts occur in the Bible. They are often grouped in the following way: Functional (or Motivational) gifts (Rom. 12:6-8); Manifestation (or Supernatural Power) gifts (1 Cor. 12:8-10); and Ministry (or Christian Service) gifts (1 Cor. 12:27-30; Eph. 4:11-12). Many commentators consider these lists to be partial rather than complete.
Our focus will be upon the Functional (or Motivational) gifts found in Romans 12:6-8. These gifts describe the basic inner drives and abilities implanted in us by God to fulfill his purposes. The Functional gifts are prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.
Note: At times Drs. Selig and Arroyo refer to the Functional gifts as motivational gifts. These should not be confused with the motivational levels.
What is the relationship between natural gifts and spiritual gifts? There are a variety of theological viewpoints about the nature and reception of spiritual gifts. These viewpoints will be discussed in the future Living By The Book course, "Great Themes Of The Book-Part 2:" Here we shall consider spiritual gifts as divine empowerments sovereignly bestowed upon those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.While it is inaccurate to think of a spiritual gift as merely a "souped-up" natural talent, we cannot discount any continuity between natural and spiritual gifts. God is equally our Creator and our Enabler. He is the Lord of our heredity and our environment. The psalmist says of God: "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13-16). God is ultimately responsible for instilling our inner strengths and abilities (Jer. 1:5). In some cases, these abilities are empowered by the Holy Spirit in a new way when we are born again (LOD, p. 26).
The apostle Peter, for example, appears to have had a natural gift for speaking boldly. Yet his passion and enthusiasm often led him to speak rashly, and for this he was rebuked by Jesus (Matt. 16:21-23; John 13:8). What a difference we find in his manner after receiving the Holy Spirit! His speeches at Pentecost (Acts 2), at the temple (Acts 3:11-26), and before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-22) have Peter's natural fire, but they are seasoned with divine eloquence and wisdom as well.
Moses, on the other hand, had no natural eloquence (Ex. 4:10) and so had to receive it from God (Ex. 4:11-12, 15). The lives of these two Bible characters illustrate that God is able to activate in us the spiritual gifts we already have and to create in us those we do not.
What responsibilities come with spiritual gifts? "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). Our spiritual gifts were given "to serve others" (1 Peter 4:10). It is a profound spiritual and psychological fact that any attempt to "bury" or misuse our gifts is self-destructive (Matt. 25:17-18, 24-27).
As we are rooted in Christ (John 15:5) and conformed to his image, it becomes possible to manifest all of the spiritual gifts Christ himself did (Matt. 7:11; John 20:21-22; Rom. 8:32). This means parents can ask for and receive the spiritual gifts needed to disciple their children (John 14:11-14).
Spiritual gifts are a family affair. That is why they play such an important part in our study of the family. The Pilgrims referred to the family as the "church-within-the-Church." Like the church, each family has the potential to manifest all of the spiritual gifts. In doing so, it "grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Eph. 4:16).
Making It Work:
Fill out the gift inventory on page 2-1 of your Family Quiz Packet. What is your primary gift? Your secondary gift? In what areas do you need to grow?
Read Matthew 25:14-30, along with the commentary on these verses in the 113C, p.1148. According to this passage, what is the mark of the faithful use of a gift (v.16)? What does the "owner" say that his unfaithful steward should have done (v. 27)? What three rewards are given to the faithful stewards (vv. 21, 23, 29), and what three penalties does the unfaithful servant suffer (vv. 26, 28, 30)?
Read Romans 12:3-5 in which Paul discusses humility and unity in the body of Christ. Why is humility necessary for unity? Can you think of areas where the practice of humility could improve your relationship with your children? Your spouse?