Meyers-Briggs. Enneagram. Love Languages… there are so many ways for us to define ourselves, find ourselves, and fill others in on exactly who we are.
I remember dating a guy who referenced that I was an “ENTJ” and he was an “ISFJ” in every single argument. In his estimation, I didn’t have actual thoughts or convictions or education – I was who I was because of those four letters. It was infuriating!
There is a lot of truth to some of these personality tests though, and their results can absolutely help us in our careers and families and romantic relationships, but who are we really? If God is an infinitely creative creator, how many different ways can He make us?
He’s stuffed some of us with a skill for painting and some of us with extra giggles, He’s filled some of our minds with a craving for philosophy and some of our feet with an itch to cover miles and miles. But He made us for His own glory and for the advancing of His kingdom – so how did He equip us besides our personalities and preferences?
…with our spiritual gifts.
Some of you are quite familiar and operate intentionally out of your known gifts and some of you just double-blinked when you read that.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
After Christ had risen from the dead, and before He ascended to heaven, He spent some quality time with the apostles giving them instruction for what would happen when He left them in the physical. He was explaining the Holy Spirit and what exactly this equal and beautiful entity of the Triune God does in Acts 1 when He said: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord has equipped us to do His good work, and what He has equipped us with are gracious gifts, our spiritual gifts. Depending on who you ask or what passages you read this list can be a tad shorter or a tad longer, but the gifts I am referring to include:
Administration, Apostleship, Discernment, Evangelism, Exhortation, Faith, Giving, Healing, Knowledge, Leadership, Mercy, Miracles, Pastor/Shepherd, Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, and Wisdom.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time studying and discussing these gifting while in church, college, small groups, and in intentional training classes – and once your eyes are opened to how God has created you (both in the womb and after conversion) the beauty of ministry is more exciting than ever before!
The risk we run is growing envious of other gifts we deem more “glamorous” … many of my friends who have the gift of Administration bemoan it’s humility and yearn for that of Teaching. I believe that jealousy is just one of many tools of the enemy to keep us stifled and stagnant rather than doing what just God wants just the way He’s made us.
It’s also possible to have a specific gift more prominently during a specific life-season and it’s possible (and quite probable) that you’ll have more than one spiritual gift. If you are unsure of what your spiritual giftings are, I would encourage you to take this online test. It’s not the most thorough of any I’ve ever taken, but it is free and uncomplicated.
As for my specific spiritual gifts, I have a few – Evangelism, Prophecy, Leadership, Teaching and Mercy. These gifts need tender care to grow – like any good living thing, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Many of my gifts were stifled by others in church leadership as I was told for years that I couldn’t have certain gifts from the Spirit because I was female, but that conversation is for another time… The gift I have that I couldn’t “put my finger on” for years is the one we’ll chat about today: Discernment.
Pastor Jeff Carver describes it this way:
“The Greek word for the gift of discernment is Diakrisis. The word describes being able to distinguish, discern, judge or appraise a person, statement, situation, or environment. In the New Testament it describes the ability to distinguish between spirits as in 1 Corinthians 12:10, and to discern good and evil as in Hebrews 5:14.
The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to enable certain Christians to clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation. The church needs those with this gift to warn believers in times of danger or keep them from being led astray by false teaching.”
Many can confuse this specific gift with being “a wise judge of character” or by being able to make a decision in accordance with God’s will when coming to a spiritual fork in the road – but it’s much more specific.
Author Tim Challies unpacks understanding: “All Christians are responsible to test words of teaching and prophecy. The Bereans were considered noble for hearing the teaching of Paul and Silas, receiving them with eagerness and ‘examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so’ (Acts 17:11). These believers tested the words of the apostles, examining the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught was consistent with what they knew of God’s revelation of Himself. In doing this they modeled the task of all believers. Christians are ultimately responsible for what they choose to believe, no matter whether or not they have been gifted with the spiritual gift of discernment.