What are the gifts of the Spirit and how do you know when you have one or more of them?
Test Drive the Gifts
I would recommend one of several spiritual gift inventory tests you can take online to find out what your spiritual gift might be. Sometimes the best way to see if you have a gift for something is to try it out. No one can have all of these gifts, but everyone has at least one of these gifts. Usually a person has more than one gift. The Bible reminds us that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1st Cor 12:4-6). God will sometimes make it manifest or known to that person what their gift is, but sometimes we need a little help. We need to find our gift because it helps the Body of Christ, the church, since “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1st Cor 12:7). This gift is not to brag on or boast about but for the good of your brothers and sisters. That’s God’s intention for these gifts and not what we think they should be used for. God will resist anyone who has pride (James 4:6), regardless of the gifts they have. Believe me, I say this to myself more than to anyone else because pride can wreck a ministry and bury a gift.
Wisdom and Knowledge
Wisdom and knowledge is not the same thing. You can have knowledge about something, but not use knowledge in a very wise way. You can have the knowledge of how to fire a gun, but wisdom makes sure the safety is on. The Apostle Paul wants the Corinthians to know that “to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit” (1st Cor 12:8). Notice that it’s something you cannot pray to receive or try to work on. It is what God gives. He gives to some the spiritual gift of wisdom, but to others, He gives the gift of knowledge, but always for “the common good,” the church.
Faith and Healing
Paul continues listing of the gifts of the Spirit, which is given “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” (1st Cor 12:9). There are some spiritual giants that I know of in church history, such as the Apostle Paul, who apparently had many gifts, including healing, but one man who stands out to me is George Mueller who built a number of orphanages in England and saved the lives of countless children. Mr. Mueller never once asked anyone for money or funding for the orphanages. Instead, he wanted to rely only on prayer, and pray in faith that God would provide, and did He ever. That man’s faith was a gift.
Miracles and Prophecy
The Apostle Paul writes that “to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy” (1st Cor 12:10a), and as you can read in the Book of Acts, there were many prophets and many who worked miracles, but these miracles we must remember are attributed to praying in Jesus’ name so that He receives the glory. If there is a miracle; God is glorified. If someone is healed; God is glorified, but if someone dies and passes into glory, that glorifies God too. The gift of prophecy, which in the Greek is “prophēteia,” means “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God.”
Tongues and Interpretations
The final list of gifts if given where Paul says, “to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1st Cor 12:10b), but the point is that all of these gifts are empowered “by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1st Cor 12:11), so it’s all about God’s will and not ours, and these are all empowered by God’s Spirit, not us, and knowing that should keep us humble and not boast about our gifts as did the Corinthians who compared their gifts with the others. It became a matter of pride and pride always takes us from our purpose, and that is to give God all the glory in everything we do. It is still a matter of pride for many, but let us not divide over these gifts or make these gifts the evidence of your salvation. That’s not what God intended them for (1st Cor 12:7). We do know the Greek (“glōssa“) word translated “tongues” is actually “language” which the NASB accurately reads, “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born” (Acts 2:8), and it wasn’t an unknown tongue, but one known by the “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:9-11). If your brother or sister believes in speaking in tongues and you don’t, let us not divide over this. Let us prove that we are Christ’s disciples as Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
There are other spiritual gifts that are given in the Bible like teaching, exhortation, giving, and mercy (Rom 12:6-8), but these may not be all there are. I know some Christians who I believe have gifts of the Spirit that are not mentioned in the Bible. They do things that are not listed under any gift. That’s because God’s Spirit is not limited. He can move in many different ways through many different people by gifting. By the way, Gifts of the Spirit are not the same things as offices of the church, but we know that the gifts of the Spirit are always beneficial for the church, more so than the individual. Paul writes, “just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1st Cor 12:12-13). And we are one in Christ; even though many members with many differing gifts.