Lately, addressing the issue of spiritual gifts has come up in my life. I can say that although I periodically have theological shifts, evangelism theory shifts, and callings, I have noticed that my spiritual gifts have remained constant, only changing in how I administer them.
One spiritual gift that I have that is not specifically laid out in Scripture is: encouragement. I have felt the Lord use this many times in my life and as I interact with others. I have come to see that this gift of encouragement generally comes from my overly optimistic view of life and of others. I have finally realized that this gift manifests itself in the Biblical gift of: exhortation. Exhorting can be both for admonishment and encouragement; for building up or confronting. Life has been a fascinating journey with this gift.
I would generally say that exhortation is my main gift, the one I am most comfortable with, the one that come naturally. Other gifts that I use here and there include: discernment (which can go hand in hand with exhortation) and shepherding.
Recently I have been enlightened about the severe nature of spiritual gifts. I hope that you who reads this will ponder and think about what I am about to say if you haven’t already…but, I am guessing you have all have thought about it before, and thus I pray this serves as a reminder of the battle between Spirit and flesh.
I remember recently times when I was exhorting. I was talking about the Scriptural example of Economical Jubilee. I went round and round with this guy, sometimes coming to agreement, sometimes not. In another example, I can remember exhorting a loved one to godly living. I have also exhorted Christian leadership back to a life of prayer. The list can go on and on. As I reflected back on these instances where I think I was using my spiritual gifts, what I realized is that I often slipped into the flesh when exhorting. I ended up sinning as a result of trying to administer a spiritual gift! This confounded me! I then began to realize that there is a fine line to administering our spiritual gifts for God’s glory, or Satan’s. I have learned a hard lesson. I have learned that if I do things without love, the Spirit, grace, mercy, the fruits of the Spirit, then even when I think I am using the gifts God gave me, I am actually denying Him, being self serving, and sinning because I am doing them in the flesh.
So, I can either exhort someone in love and Spirit to follow God, or exhort in judgment and sin of the flesh.
I can either discern the path of Truth thru the Spirit, or lead astray in the flesh.
I can either shepherd in humility and meekness of the Spirit, or in the self-righteousness of the flesh.
God help me to overcome myself and administer gifts from your Spirit of love and give me eyes, wisdom, and a oneness of your Spirit to know when I am slipping into my sinning flesh.