Spiritual Gifts Part 3: Gifts are Given to the Church Community

Spiritual Gifts Part 3: Gifts are Given to the Church Community

Spiritual Gifts are Given to the Church Community—Not Merely to Individuals

I have a pet peeve when it comes to understanding Spiritual Gifts and their use. To get at the teaching, I will tell two stories and draw an application from it.

Years ago, a man in his mid-twenties came to the church I was serving and told me that he had the gift of evangelism.  He wanted to know where he could serve to use that gift, with the hope that he would organize to develop a ministry as a great evangelist. The thought was joyful. I asked him to tell me whether he had led any one to faith in Christ over the last month.

“No,” he replied. “I haven’t done that.”

“Oh, okay,” I said. “Who have you led to the Lord in the last three months?”

“Well, no one,” he said.

This time I hesitated before asking the next question.

“Have you prayed with anyone to receive the Lord’s grace in the last year?”

“Actually, no, I haven’t,” he replied.

“How long have you been a believer in the Lord?” I asked.

“Eleven years!” he said with a smile.

“Oh,” I said, as kindly as I could, “Tell me now, in those eleven years how many have you brought to faith in Christ?”

“None,” he said. “Not one.”

This was followed by an uncomfortable pause. After a moment’s reflection, the fellow indicated that he was deliberately spending time with a renowned evangelist to learn how to do this. I knew that evangelist—he was a lecturer at a university, and was an author, and coach who had taught many how to share their faith. That thought was encouraging, until I heard the next part.

“If I just hang around him long enough, I am hoping that some of that anointing will transfer from him to me.”

Suffice it to say that the fellow didn’t become a great evangelist. In fact, I spoke with the prof at the university—and he had no idea why the fellow was regularly wanting to spend time with him. The student had never let the teacher know his reason for being there.

He wanted a magnificent spiritual gift by osmosis.

Turn the page. I was pastoring a different congregation and was teaching a class on spiritual gifts. There was a middle-aged woman in the class, a joyful lady who was other centered, and devoted to the gospel. To get the class started, I asked a question.     

“How many hear think that they might have the gift of evangelism?”

Well, no one out of the twenty in the room raised their hand. Now I knew that the middle-aged lady had led someone to the Lord just a few weeks before—she had introduced me to the new believer when we saw each other in the grocery store.

Wanting to encourage the class, I said to her, “Would you tell the story of the young lady you led to faith in Christ?”

“Which one?” she said.

“You led more than one to Jesus?” I asked.

“Five this month pastor,” was her matter of fact reply.

A thought came into my head and before thinking I blurted it out, “Well how many did you lead to the Lord the month before?”

“Nine people, pastor. But I don’t think that this is a gift. I just talk about Jesus, and people get saved.”

There was a contented outburst of laughter from the room—kindly, teasing delight as her friends started to josh with her.

“Only 14 souls brought to Christ in two months! You better do that many next week!” The kindly fun continued for a few moments until one of the students in the class asked this question:  

“Could you define the gift pastor?”

“Well, it is the God-given ability to present the claims of Christ to others, to have them understand what it means, and to see them respond positively to the gospel.”

Everyone started to laugh out loud! All of us in the room knew that the lady had the gift! I couldn’t have asked for a better illustration of the very teaching I was trying to convey.

Put the two side by side and you see the contrast. In the first account we had a young fellow who thought he had the gift and had no evidence of that being so. In the second we had someone who had no idea she had the gift, and the evidence was everywhere (Actually she introduced me to about a dozen of those who received Jesus’ forgiveness through her sharing).

The pet peeve I named at the beginning of this reflection is that we regularly ask people to identify spiritual gifts on their own.

That doesn’t happen in the Bible.

Gifts of the Spirit are discovered, not because you think you have one, or that you don’t have one. Gifts of the Spirit are discovered when the whole community of the faithful tells you, because it is apparent for all to see.

They are manifestly plain to everyone. That was why Paul the apostle said it this way:

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB

         God’s action becomes clear. We discover our gifts as we use them, even when we have no idea that we are doing just that. Those gifts get affirmed by wise people who know and love us.

         Everyone knew that Jesus was operating in gifts of healing, because the afflicted became well when He prayed, or commanded through a word.

         Everyone knew that Elijah had a gift of prophecy and a gift of faith, because he spoke a predictive word about a drought and prayed in a rainstorm after more than 3 years of none, based upon what he heard God say.

         I our own day and generation, everyone knows the lady who has the gift of encouragement, because every time you are around that lady, your spirit soars, and the spring in your step returns.

         Everyone knows who has a gift of wise counsel (a word of wisdom), because this is the one who speaks wisely when a course of action could go in any one of three ways—and choosing the best path needs “wisdom from above.”

         The manifestation of the Spirit is manifest for all to see—and it blesses the many.

         Spiritual gifts are practiced and discovered in community.

The point today is just that: Spiritual gifts are discovered as we live out our life of faith in Jesus with other believers. Those faithful believers help us identify the gifts at work in us. We don’t discover our gifts by ourselves. We discover them together.

What does this mean? We need to be in a community of faithful believers if we want to discover our gifts and put them to work. Those gifts are not just for you (though they will surely bless the one who receives one). They are actually gifts through you, sent from heaven to bless others, who need a touch from God.

Spiritual gifts are unselfish, and other centered, because that reflects the nature and character of Christ Himself. Those gifts come from His very own Spirit after all! They make us just like Him.


In the Word:

  1. Take a moment and rewrite the reason Paul the Apostle said that the manifestation of the Spirit is given. Paraphrase this sentence from 1 Cor 7, then answer the questions below.

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB



  1. Who gets the gift? _____________________________________________
  2. Who gets the blessing? _________________________________________
  3. What is the common good?______________________________________


  1. Let’s look at the very first outpouring of Spiritual gifts on the birthday of the church—Pentecost. Much ink has been spilled about the events in Acts 2. For our purposes today, notice that people who had never spoken in some of the foreign tongues listed in the chapter were given that gift. It surely was a blessing to the ones speaking. Yet notice who was blessed by this gift as they listened. “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born—we hear them speaking of the mighty deeds of God?”  Acts 2:7,11b NASB So, record who got blessed in the space that follows. 





  1. What are gifts give to do? What must our attitude toward them to be?


A Take Away for the Day:

Lord, teach me to focus on You, and when receiving anything from you, to focus on blessing others… Amen.

© David Chotka 2021