July 18, 2011 by Heather Harris
Since my last post, I have been doing a lot of reading on spiritual gifts, both from the Bible and from blogs and articles. I think my confusion about whether or not I had let my spiritual gift die was really a confusion about what spiritual gift I have in the first place.
When I was younger, I used to think I didn’t have a spiritual gift. Looking at all the different gifts outlined in the scripture, especially in 1 Corinthians 12, I felt like I didn’t even have a spiritual gift because none of the gifts mentioned were things I felt gifted in, so I kind of dismissed gifts altogether. It was only recently, when I read this verse, that I began to think about it again:
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)
So each one of us, as Christians, have received a gift that God has planted in us to develop for His glory. That means me too. Discovering this verse made me then wonder what spiritual gift I had, so I began to think back to my natural abilities as a child. In my thought process I kept being reminded of the various instances in which I had been drawn to the outcasts and had the ability to love and understand them when others couldn’t. This made me think that maybe I had the gift of love or something, but I am still unsure. Nowhere in the scriptures is love referred to as a spiritual gift. In fact it is something that God says all of us should have for one another:
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8)
So then I began thinking about what a friend had told me at a chapel service in which we were talking about gifts. We were asked to break off into groups to discuss what our gifts were. When it came around to me, I didn’t have a clue what to say. I didn’t feel like I had a spiritual gift. But my friend looked at me, and said, “Heather, you are really good at accepting people for who they are and loving them no matter what.” This again made me think that my spiritual gift had something to do with love, but I still wasn’t quite there yet. Then I found these verses:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8)
Mercy and compassion…that is my spiritual gift. I am always giving people second chances, no matter what they have done, and I have an ability to do so even, dare I say especially, when they are undeserved.
But let me just say that there are times when I absolutely despise this gift. I have shared many angry rants with God about it. Most of the time it’s because I feel like it’s not fair. I willingly and lovingly give out second chances, but when the tables are turned, hardly anyone does the same for me. I realize that this is because I have a gift for this, but as a strong, immensely independent person, my gut reaction is to rebel against my gift because I get sick of feeling like a doormat.
My problem has been finding a balance. Do I always give out second chances, or is there a point when I am supposed to stand up for myself? As I continue to exercise and develop my gift, I hope to find the answer to this question as it has been one of my biggest struggles for the longest time.
What do you think? Is there a time and a place for spiritual gifts to be used and not used? Or are we always supposed to exercise them, whether they seem fair or not?