“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophecy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.”
Romans 12:6 NLT
Paul develops his theme of the body of Christ, the church, being made up of individual people, and he wrote to the Christians in Rome, pointing out that God had given each of them a “different gift”, “for doing certain things well”. We don’t know much about the Roman church, or churches, and what giftings were present, but we can be sure that the spiritual gifts were present there. It was as though Paul was reminding them of this fact. Paul also told them that it was through God’s grace that they were given the gifts, and he highlighted the gift of prophecy. Was this the most important or just the first that came to his mind? We also see that the gifts Paul mentioned in the following verses in addition to prophecy – serving, teaching, encouraging, leading, giving, and showing mercy or kindness – were all there for the benefit of the local church. These were gifts that formed the “glue” that held them all together. There was something about the Holy Spirit empowering the gifts so that they become far more effective than any natural equivalent. Peter also said that God has a “great variety of spiritual gifts” (1 Peter 4:10), so perhaps the seven listed here in Romans 12 were just a few out of many.
Is it the case that the church today has the same spiritual gifts that were bestowed upon the First Century Christians? Is it being presumptuous to reply in the affirmative? There is nothing that I can find in Scripture that says the gifts were only for the First Century AD, or the Apostolic age, so I think it is safe to assume that the spiritual gifts are still alive and well today. We should note that the Romans 12 gifts are gifts for service. Paul lists some more in 1 Corinthians 12, gifts such as healing and faith, miracles and knowledge, all gifts manifesting the power of the Holy Spirit.
But before we get into the list of “certain things”, are we personally sure that we do, in fact, have a spiritual gift? How do we know? Well, first of all, Paul said that God has given us “different gifts“. 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another“. 1 Corinthians 12:7,“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other“. If God has said it, then we must have it. Is it wrong to say that to deny that we have a spiritual gift is to deny God?
So, how do we find our spiritual gift or gifts (some people have more than one)? They can only be found by seeking God, though there are some helps that He has provided. Things like, do we feel a rise in our spirits at the mention of a particular gift? Or is there a friend who has pointed out to us something we are particularly good at? We should of course beware of looking for gifts that we think are a good idea rather than what God really has planned for us.
Our loving Heavenly Father so kindly knows our shortcomings, and how we need much encouragement. He provides these practical gifts to help us and our churches, helping us shine as beacons in the world around us.
Dear Heavenly Father. We thank You for Your graciousness, so sensitive and practical, providing all that we need for our Christian lives today. Amen.