"A gift in the spiritual sense means the Holy Spirit doing a particular service through the believer, and using the believer to do it."Did you understand that? God gives every believer a spiritual gift, sometimes several, and this gift is a supernatural endowment of God's Holy Spirit used as a divine means of ministering to one another. When the Holy Spirit wants to work through you, He does so by giving you a spiritual gift, or an ability to do something, and then He empowers your effort at using your gift.
I think I'm trying to make this too complicated. It really shouldn't be. It's not some unfathomable secret doctrine or anything. All a spiritual gift is, is a special ability to do ministry. God gives that ability to us so we can do the work He asks us to do. It really is that simple.
I often use Ephesians 2:8-10 as the best illustration of the relationship between faith and work. Verses 8-9 say,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, least anyone should boast."Amen! We're saved by God's grace alone - Thank You, Jesus! It is all about what Jesus has done for us by dying on the cross of Calvary to pay the judicial penalty for our sins. Nothing we could have done, no amount of good works or keeping the law, could have ever saved a one of us. But God's grace did! That's what He did for us. But what can we do for Him? We can work for Him.
The Gospel Herald once published a story about a man who made it to the top of his profession. As he was looking back over his long and successful life, he thought about all the things that helped shape him and make him the man he became. He remembered the one single event that most impacted his life - an event that left him changed forever - and it was this:
One day as a young boy he went swimming alone, and he got in trouble. He was out too far, and he was at the point where he was too exhausted to swim any longer. He struggled to keep his head above water, knowing that drowning was inevitable without help. He was in a panic, thrashing about and at the point of giving up. It was then that a total stranger passed by, saw his predicament, and swam out to rescue him.
After the man had deposited him safe on shore, he turned to leave. The boy cried out, "Thank you for saving me." The man turned back and replied, "You're welcome, son. See to it that you are worth saving." That line stuck with him. "See to it that you are worth saving." That's the whole point.
God saved us by grace when we were without hope. Now, what are we going to do to make ourselves worth saving? Don't take this too far, or ever think we can repay God for His grace. Don't ever make salvation about merit. That's not it at all. But what can we do for God? How can we ever say, "Thank You?"
That's what Ephesians 2:10 is about. It says,
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."That's what we can do for God. We can work for Him.
But imagine that! God created us for, not just any good works, but works that He planned and laid out "before hand," - before He ever gave us eternal life or even life in our mother's womb. God prepared specific work for us to do. God picked out tasks for you to do, and nobody else.
But that's a scary thought. How can we accomplish what God has asked us to do? The cry of most Christians is similar to the cry of Winston Churchill in World War II, "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job." Well, God has! And those tools are our spiritual gifts.
When God calls you to do a certain task, He always gives you the ability to accomplish it. Your spiritual gift is tailor made for your special assignment. God won't give you one task and then give you a spiritual gift to do something else. God isn't stupid. He knows how to administer. And He has given you just the right gift for the job. First Corinthians 7:7 says, "But every man hath his proper gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that." God perfectly equips you to do exactly what He asks you to do. That's the beauty of this.