Today in my Bible study group, our topic of discussion was spiritual gifts. Interesting. It appeared from our study that every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift, and it is important that we identify our spiritual gift/gifts in order to be Christians and to fight the powers of Satan, who, according to the author of the book we are studying, is constantly attempting to derail our faith.
I was confused. And when I get confused, I start doing research. After three hours of online research, reading Bible references to “gifts of the spirit” and “spiritual gifts”, taking four online tests to determine what my spiritual gifts are, and finally talking to my minister sister about the topic, I still am unsure what my spiritual gifts are, and I am beginning to wonder if anyone really is an expert on what spiritual gifts really are.
Each of the questionnaires that I answered had one thing in common, in that with each statement, there was a choice for me to address each one with my response, ranging from (1) Never, to (5) Always True, with choices along the continuum. I had to choose a number between 1 and 5 to select which was most accurate answer for my circumstances. It was difficult for me to select the right number for every statement, and all of the questionnaires had different questions. One of them actually had 100 questions – that seemed like a lot for me to find out what my one spiritual gift might be. And the odd thing I found was that with each of the spiritual gift questionnaires I took, my results pinpointed a different gift. Maybe I was selecting the wrong number choice! The gifts listed on each survey didn’t match the lists on the others, and only a few of the choices seemed to mirror what I read in the Bible. Mostly what I learned from these tests is that I am sensitive, I am a good listener, and that I care about people. One also seemed to point out to me that I don’t do enough in the church, and that I have room for improvement concerning my gift. None of them mentioned Satan.
I need to go back and read the Bible more carefully on this subject. It’s been awhile since I’ve studied it. I remember reading about gifts of healing, preaching, speaking in tongues, interpreting what people say who speak in tongues, having faith, and the like, but I am not well versed on the subject, as Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians, and also can’t say that I agree with everything that Paul wrote.
So, as I put what I am reading and the tests that I have taken into the context of the world that I live in, I wonder about the emphasis that is placed on this in today’s Christianity. And I question whether the pursuit of my own spiritual gifts is something that I should spend a lot of time contemplating.
Now, that’s a good word – contemplate. I have become very contemplative in my faith, my prayer life, and my beliefs. As I contemplate this topic, I ponder “gifts of the spirit.” I see these as the grace gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to me without my deserving them whatsoever. They are not wrapped up presents that God holds on to and hands to me at a time God deems appropriate. If God is love, as I believe, any gift that God gives me is simply that, a gift, with no strings attached, and is given in love, and not with expectation of how I might use the gift. Just the love of God is a spiritual gift in itself.
As God is the great “I Am”, my life is a very small part of “I am.” Simply being is a gift from God, and a very spiritual one at that, making my sheer existence a spiritual gift. I am alive, I am a child of God, and I believe that the Holy Spirit is within me all the time. God has blessed me with many wondrous grace gifts, and in receiving them, my life now becomes a part of the great “I Am,” or as Paul stated, the body of Christ.
Maybe this is what it means to have a spiritual gift. Perhaps I don’t need to look at the labels given to the gifts listed on these online questionnaires. My entire life and being is a spiritual gift from God. What I do with it is up to me. In contemplative prayer and meditation, I discern God’s will, and then in my daily life, I become the person God created me to be.
Spiritual gifts, or gifts of the spirit. I don’t think I will contemplate on this any longer today. I think, instead, I will be me, the best me that I can be. I will strive to be the me that God created me to be. I don’t need to take any tests or fill out any more questionnaires. And I’m not going to spend time contemplating Satan today – with God’s love and presence with me, I am safe in God’s arms.
Perhaps we don’t need spiritual gifts. Perhaps we are the gifts of the spirit.