Spiritual Gifts: General Spiritual Gifts vs. Individual Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are not about seeking new gifts from God. Spiritual gifts are about recognizing and using the gifts God has already given (2 Tim 1:6-7). The New Testament teaches us that God has given all Christians some very specific gifts. These include:

  • The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
  • Salvation (Rom 5:15 & Eph 2:8)
  • Righteousness (Rom 5:17)
  • God’s grace (Eph 3:7)

These four gifts are things that God has specifically told us that He has given to all believers. They are revealed and general. God does not differentiate these gifts among his people but we are all the same when it comes to these four. When people discuss spiritual gifts they aren’t wondering about these gifts. They are wondering about what gifts God has specifically given them in addition to these. The gifts people are usually trying to discern are the individual, non-revelatory spiritual gifts. In other words, God gifts individuals with these gifts on top of the four mentioned above. What I mean by non-revelatory is there is no specific verse in the Bible you can turn to that tells you exactly what God has equipped or readied you for as an individual.

The four general gifts above are one piece of the puzzle of trying to understand our individual gifts. I believe that the individual gifts God has given you are best made known when you make use of the general, revealed gifts of God. You are going to best understand how God has gifted you as an individual if you live by the gifts that he has already made plain in scripture. If we have salvation, grace, righteousness, and the Holy Spirit but don’t care to live like it, how can we expect God to help us understand anything else? What good does it do you to take a test of your spiritual giftedness if you are living like a heathen? What good is it to pray for God to make His gifts known in your life if you trample over His grace without concern?

So the first step to understanding spiritual gifts is to realize that it all starts with God and what God wants. It does not start with self. The second step to understanding the gifts is that we have to make use of the obvious if we want to understand or discern the less obvious. This takes faith, action and total dependence. Is the life you are living one that requires God to be involved…or do you live like you don’t really need Him…don’t risk enough to warrant God’s involvement…or take on things so small that you don’t really think God needs to be involved for them to be successful? If so, that is a problem.


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

2 Responses to Spiritual Gifts: General Spiritual Gifts vs. Individual Spiritual Gifts

  1. Always think about others before yourself. A gift can be a great response to making some one happy.
    (There is always some-one worse off than you.)

  2. Barry says:

    Matt, your explanation makes perfect sense and is eminently practical. Thanks.

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