Friday 20 October 2017


Don’t let your spiritual gift lie dormant. Stir it up!

Look at John—he’s so gifted in preaching. Wow, Jane really shines when she leads in worship.

We often admire the preacher and worship team but we tend to downplay the role of the ushers and technical team in charge of the sound system. True, the former are in the limelight, but all have a part to play in a Sunday morning service.

Spiritual gifts—as opposed to our natural talents—are special abilities that God bestows upon believers. We cannot choose them; it is the Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts to whoever He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).

The exercise of spiritual gifts need not necessarily be spectacular or awe-inspiring. Gifted believers can also serve God in quiet ways.

The apostle Peter exhorts believers to employ our gifts to benefit others—as “good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Thus, we can serve God through hospitality in a small group or preach with fire over the pulpit to hundreds or even thousands. In both instances, lives are impacted and God is glorified (1 Peter 4:9-11).

Now, who are deemed good stewards? The answer is found in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). This story reminds believers to utilise whatever spiritual gifts or talents God has given us. The men with two and five talents, who made a 100% return on investment for the master, were praised and given fresh responsibilities. Each received the same commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25: 21,23). However, the one-talent man who buried his talent was condemned: “You wicked and lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26).

Faithful stewards assume responsibility in nurturing their God-given spiritual gifts so that its full potential is realised. Just because we have been endowed with spiritual gifts, it does not mean they will automatically flourish.

The apostle Paul reminded young Timothy to stir up his spiritual gift—“fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

He encouraged Timothy, reminding him that God had given him not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). It is God who empowers believers so that we become “competent as ministers of a new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Fulfillment of God's destiny for our lives rests not on divine sovereignty alone; we have to work out our calling in obedience (Philippians 2:12-13). Jeremiah was appointed a prophet while he was still in his mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Yet, he had to persevere in his calling as he faced stubborn resistance while proclaiming God’s message.

Unity in diversity

Just as the various parts of our body have different functions, believers play diverse roles in the church, which is the body of Christ. Those who go out and win others (apostles, evangelists) as opposed to those who stay on and strengthen others (pastors, teachers) play crucial but varied roles.

As each believer is like a part of a body, no one can say he has no need of the other member. “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

The purpose of the five-fold ministry gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) is to equip the saints for ministry and build up the church till it attains maturity—that it might be united amid its diversity (Ephesians 4:11-13).

There are different types of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord (1 Corinthians 12:4-5).

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? (1 Corinthians 12: 29). Paul’s rhetorical questions show us that each believer is unique.


Before setting aflame our spiritual gifts, we need to have a right estimate of ourselves—neither too low nor too high.  Spiritual gifts won’t flourish if we have low self-esteem or pride. While we may not cherish lofty notions of ourselves, we need healthy self-esteem before we can exercise our spiritual gifts. We are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).

Every Christian has been endowed with at least one spiritual gift. Therefore, it is false humility to think we are incapable of serving God and others.

Discovering our gifts

How do we determine our spiritual gifts? Firstly, as we pray and seek God, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us our spiritual gift(s) for He is the One who leads us into all truth. Secondly, other believers will reveal to us area(s) where we have special anointing, be it evangelism, teaching, counseling or worship. Thirdly, as we stir up the gift, we will receive further confirmation in our spirit and from others of our special calling. Finally, well-structured tests can help us identify our gifts. By answering 100 questions or more, our inclinations and talents are exposed. Though not foolproof, this tool can be used in conjunction with the foregoing in discovering our spiritual gifts.

Need for caution

Though the Corinthian church excelled in spiritual gifts, Paul addressed its members as carnal, not spiritual, believers. In fact, he called them babes in Christ.

While spiritual gifts are important in helping the church attain maturity, we should not go overboard and value gifts more than character. Certainly, character is more important than charisma

Speaking in tongues, a spiritual gift, is not to be prohibited (1 Corinthians 14:39). Yet we must not overemphasise this spectacular gift that we neglect prophecy—proclaiming God’s word so that all can understand and benefit. The former edifies the one who speaks in tongues but the latter edifies a community of believers (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).

The exercise of spiritual gifts is attended by freedom and spontaneity. However, Paul also stressed the need for order and self-control. Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). The spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:32-33).

Undue emphasis on spiritual power, signs and wonders, has its dangers. We are not to rejoice that evil spirits are subject to us but that our names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20).

Christ warned believers—including those with awe-inspiring spiritual gifts—not to be complacent. Not every professing believer who calls upon Christ, Lord Lord, will make it to heaven. Even those who prophesy in God’s name, drive out demons and perform many miracles may be excluded from heaven if they do not do God’s will (Matthew 7: 21-23).


Believers need to seek, stir up and serve others through our spiritual gifts. As we rekindle and celebrate our gifts, we must not get carried away by charisma at the expense of character and a Christ-centred relationship.


We need to recognise our distinctive gifts and calling, and cease comparing ourselves with others. God has a unique plan for the life of every believer. Just as each snowflake is distinct from the rest, we are to be original—not try to be a duplicate of other people.

Knowing that God keeps us faithful till the end is not enough. We have to seek to understand His will for our lives and then live it out. In these end times when evil abounds, it is all the more important that we live intentionally and purposefully.

Many fail to recognise the difference between self-esteem, which is positive, and pride, which is negative.

Charisma and character are important qualities in an outstanding leader. Which is more important?

May God grant us the discernment to know that NOT all supernatural experiences or manifestations are of the Holy Spirit – even though it may be happening in church. Just as not all that glitters is gold, not everything supernatural is of the Holy Spirit.   

Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?

What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?

Are we so mesmerised by the miraculous and sensational that we are willing to depart from sound doctrine and whatever we hold dear in our faith?


A questionnaire to uncover our spiritual gifts and inclinations

“I see more of a hunger in the prophetic movement to obtain power than to walk in intimacy. I see more of a desire to live under the anointing than to demonstrate Christlike character. I see more of an appetite to publicly prophesy over thousands than to privately pray to the Father in heaven. I see more of an obsession to chase after someone else’s prophetic mantle than to giving our time to discovering our own unique divine design given by the Father alone. I see more of an urge to chase gold dust, feathers and angels than to encounter the person of Jesus Christ.”