One tends to think of the gifts of serving as menial tasks in the church that no one wants to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. These gifts keep the church running at maximum efficiency. So what are the differences between the gift of helps, hospitality, administration and serving? Are they individual gifts or were the writers of the New Testament using different words, but talking about the same thing? Let’s look at the verses where these words are mentioned and figure things out from there.
The first time I became confused about the gift of tongues I had just finished singing at a Pentecostal church, where I had spent an hour giving a concert, praising Jesus and I thought, encouraging other Christians in their faith. When I finished my concert and was talking to people afterwards the pastor of the church approached me and asked me if I spoke in tongues. I told him I did not. He then patted me on the back in a conciliatory way and said, “Don’t worry Sister, some day you’ll be saved!” I had been a Christian (or so I thought) for some years. But this man made me doubt my salvation. I believed in Jesus, and I loved Him. I served Him with my whole being, using the singing voice God gave me to minister in coffee houses, in homeless shelters and in churches, where I encouraged people to follow Jesus. If I wasn’t a Christian, what was I? Thus, began my long and confusing journey into the world of tongues.
Everyone has a certain level of discernment. Some might call it intuition, or their “Spidey sense”, whatever you want to call it, we all have it. But, the spiritual gift of discernment is somewhat different. As 1 Corinthians 12:10 clearly says, it is the ability to discern or distinguish “spirits”.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10, NKJV).
I have personally experienced three miracles in my lifetime. Two miracles are named Andrew and Sarah, my children. Their births were not without incident. With Sarah, I was ordered to bed for the first three months of my pregnancy because my doctor thought I was going to lose her. I was also ordered to bed for the last three months because I developed toxaemia. After twenty-four hours of labour, I had Sarah by emergency C-section, because the doctors thought I was going to have a heart attack. It was a miracle she survived and came out of me with all the necessary parts. It was a miracle I survived! My son’s birth was also not without incident. In my sixth month, I fell and slipped on some ice and developed Placenta Previa (where the placenta tears away from the uterine wall). Once again I was ordered to bed for fear I would lose my baby and once again I had another C-section. The only harm to Andrew was that he was jaundiced at birth. Yes, it was a miracle they both survived and it was a miracle I did too!
Does the spiritual gift of healing still exist today? Or is it, as some people claim, no longer available because “only the Apostles” had it? I remember once, after my mother had a stroke, praying that she would be healed and not die. She could not speak or walk. She had lost the complete use of anything on her left side. Things did not look good. So I put a call out for prayer that night and trusted God would do what was best. To my surprise He did more than that. The next morning when I went into the hospital, my mother was sitting up in bed reading the paper and talking normally. She had even regained movement on her left side and had been out of bed walking! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was stunned. So were her doctors. That’s the power of prayer, but it is also the gift of healing in action.
What is the Gift of Faith? Doesn’t every Christian have this gift? Isn’t it a kind of pre-requisite for belief in God? And how do you explain faith to someone who doesn’t believe? What does God say? He says that we wouldn’t even have faith in Him at all, if it wasn’t for His gift of grace to us in the first place!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
How astounding! I can’t even wrap my head around that one. It was God’s grace that saved me through “faith”, yet it would seem from the verse above that even my faith was a gift from God. I don’t know about you, but that kind of blows my mind.
What is the difference between the Word of Wisdom and the Word of Knowledge? There is much confusion and debate about what these words mean, so it may be better to approach this from a different angle – what these gifts are not and how some Christians today are coming dangerously close to ignoring Scripture because of their misuse of these two gifts.
Mercy is described in Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “showing kindness, by beneficence, or assistance”, and is translated as “having compassion”. In general, it is to sympathize or empathize with the misery of another, so much so that you feel compelled to act. If not for mercy, you and I would still be lost. Jesus would not have died a gruesome death in order to redeem sinners from eternal suffering. It is mercy that drove Jesus to the cross and it is mercy that all Christians are to extend to others.
Mercy sort of sounds like grace, doesn’t it? But there is a distinction. Mercy is God not punishing us for our sins as we rightly deserve. Grace, is God loving us and blessing us even though we are sinners. Ephesians 2:8 tells us clearly, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves – it is the gift of God.” Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is unmerited favour. The two often go hand in hand.
When it comes to leadership within the church we invariably look to our Pastor. He is the one who is charged by God to lead congregants into all truth by exhorting from the Scriptures. In Romans 12:8 Paul says, “He who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The Greek word used for “lead” is proïstēmi and is translated as “rule or set over” but it literally means “to stand before, to lead, or attend to.” This word proïstēmi is also found in 1 Timothy 5:17, in reference to elders, “let the elders that rule…” It is also used with reference to family, where a man “rules” over his household (1Timothy 3:4, 12; 1Timothy 3:5), with the understanding of what the word means - “to stand before, lead, or attend to.” In other words, ruling is not dictatorial.
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, NKJV).
One would think that the spiritual gift of giving would require the person with this gift to have lots of money so that they may distribute it liberally. But if they thought that, then they would be misinterpreting the “gift” of giving. In fact, one would almost have to question whether the act of giving was really a spiritual gift at all if that were the case, because then only rich Christians would have it, which of course would be ridiculous. It is necessary therefore, to first look at the Greek words Paul used when he said, “he who gives, with liberality” and then to take what he said in the context of his letter to the Romans.