Spiritual Gifts 6
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:1-2 ESV
There are scores of books written to help individuals discover their spiritual gifts. The vast majority of them take the same basic approach. They are aimed at convincing Christians that successful satisfying ministry flows from an understanding and exercising of our spiritual gifts. What is notably absent from the bulk of this literature is a biblical theology of how we are to discover our gifts.
Scripture is not silent regarding the reality of spiritual gifts. Like the volume of contemporary literature, however, the Bible most obviously addresses the existence and purpose of our spiritual gifts. Upon first glance it is difficult to ascertain just how God would have us go about determining our giftedness.
Hundreds of different spiritual gift inventories exist which all ask a series of similar questions aimed at uncovering one's gifts. These inventories can be a useful tool but they have their limitations. First off they are a reflection of our personal perception of ourselves and they often come to reflect what we would like to be rather than a pure reflection of reality. One way to counteract this is to have a close friend or spouse take the inventory for you and compare your results with theirs. But does the Bible leave us without any instruction regarding the discovery of spiritual gifts, are online gift inventories the ultimate resource?
Recently I uncovered at least one place where scripture speaks directly to the discovery of God's will for our lives in relation to spiritual gifts. In the first two verses of Roman's chapter 12 some insights are given directly before a more specific dialogue regarding spiritual gifts unfolds. We are called to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices out of gratitude for his mercy toward us. We then are challenged to not be conformed to this world's pattern of thinking but be transformed by allowing God to renew our minds. Having done this we are promised that by testing we will be able to discern God's perfect will for our lives.
The verses that follow these statements are a specific challenge to think humbly and with a sober mind regarding our spiritual gifts. Rather than the world's pattern of pridefully striving after position, we are called to serve according to the grace God has given us. God wisely does not tell us to simply pick what we think our gifts are from a list. He calls us to surrender ourselves to him for the transforming of the way we think about service. When we do this we have the promise that through testing we will be able to discern his perfect will for our lives.
A spiritual gifts test can be a tremendous tool but it must be taken with a renewed, humble, and honest mind. Until we stand before God willing to serve him as a living sacrifice wherever he may call us, we will have a difficult time discerning his will.
The reason scripture does not lay out a simple step by step approach for discovering our gifts is because the process is more about our ability to honestly listen to the spirit than it is about effectively evaluating our talents. God is always perfectly capable of clearly communicating the call he has placed upon our lives and the gifts he has given us to engage our calling. The journey of discovering our gifts is one of surrender and relationship. Discovering our gifts and where God is calling us to serve requires a growing knowledge of God and ourselves.
As with everything else, trusting our Heavenly Father is the key. When we choose to believe he has our best interests at heart we become willing to hear and accept whatever he desires to reveal to us.
Still Seeking His Face,