Before we answer these questions, we need to clarify what is meant by the phrase “spiritual gifts”. The phrase is usually used in the Bible [1Cor. 12:1; 14:1] to refer to the miraculous gifts that God sometimes gives to people for various reasons (e.g. the skill and wisdom that God gave to Bezalel so that he could make items for the tabernacle [Ex. 31:2-3]; the superhuman strength God gave to Samson [Judges 14:6]; the ability to prophecy that God gave to Saul [1Sam. 10:10]; the abilities given at Pentecost that enabled the young Christian community to become established [Acts 2:1-6; Eph. 4:8,11-13]). When God gave these miraculous gifts it was for a particular purpose for a limited time (e.g. the spiritual gifts that Bazalel had were for the purpose of producing the Tabernacle [Ex. 31:7-11]; the spiritual gifts given at Pentecost were to initially establish the young church [Eph. 4:11-13]), and once these purposes were complete the miraculous gifts stopped (in relation to the ending of the gifts given at Pentecost, see 1Cor. 13:8-11; also see the answer to ‘Have the Holy Spirit gifts died out?‘). These “spiritual gifts” are no longer around today, although they will be given again when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth [Joel 2:18-32; Heb. 6:5].

With that caveat out of the way, it’s important that we still acknowledge that every good thing we have in life is from God [James 1:17], whether it is rain given in order to make crops grow [Mat. 5:45], our finances [1Sam. 2:7], or even the abilities we have due to genetics [Ps. 139:13] or educational circumstances [Heb. 12:5-13], etc. In this sense, everything we have is a gift from God, including our life [Ps. 104:29-30]!

So, to come to the questions: it’s important to know that everything is a gift from God because it means we will use everything we have to serve God out of thanks for what he’s given. And it’s not difficult to work out what gifts God has given us because he has given us everything! King Solomon recognised this when he said:

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you [God], and of your own have we given you. [1Chron. 29:14]

Of course, you may have particular talents, etc., that you are unaware of at the moment. A useful way to help you find them out is to ask some people who know you well and who will give you an honest opinion [Prov. 15:22]; they might be able to highlight things you are unaware of. Some people also find it useful to carry out a “personality test” (e.g. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; Keirsey Temperament Sorter). Bear in mind, however, that sometimes you might have to work outside of what’s comfortable for your “personality type”.

Also see, ‘How do you know what your purpose in life is?

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  • ino

    Two issues:
    1) I find the use of “personality tests” to be a mixed bag and not to be regarded on par with what the Scriptures say we are. The paradigms presented by Myers-Briggs (for example) are based on psychology, not Scripture, and is one of a multitude of paradigms that attempts to classify the complexities of human personality. Being that each of those paradigms are human in origin, they are fallible, subject to revision, and not reliable as labels for how Christians should identify themselves and their behaviors.

    The Bible speaks of the Christian’s disposition in terms of virtues (e.g., Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:5-8) and evidences of the Spirit, not temperament. I caution against Christians identifying themselves according to psychological paradigms, rather than Biblical descriptions of character.

    2) If you are Continuationist or at least partial-Cessationist, then which spiritual gifts are still operating becomes debatable. There are bona fide arguments that the gift of tongues, predictive prophecy, and apostles (to name a few gifts) are no longer operating today. So when a Christian reads about the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, Ephesians 4:8-13, and 1 Peter 4:10-11), one must consider the immediate context about which the gifts are being described in the letters to their original audiences and THEN, whether one could possibly have one gift or another.

    I personally think that too much emphasis is put onto having spiritual gifts in churches and not enough on believers demonstrating the “fruit” (i.e., evidences) of the Spirit. In context, the Bible does state that a Christian who is filled with the Spirit will “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:18-20). The Christian character attests to being filled with the Spirit much more than operating in gifts.

    Please note: Biblically, speaking in (unknown) tongues is not associated with being filled with the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the foreign tongues (i.e., languages) was for the purpose of those who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit to evangelize in the native languages of the people from the 14+ countries then-present. (See Acts 2:1-11, note verses 8-11). Speaking in a babbling “tongue” may be spectacular but is unbiblical.