Spiritual life comes with spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts are spiritual endowments, powers, or graces that come from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are spiritual because one cannot possess them without being spiritual – you must be born again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. They are gifts because no man can qualify to work and receive them as the wages of his labour. Augustus Toplady was biblically right when he said “Not the labour of my hands can fulfill Thy laws demands” in the hymn “Rock of Ages.” Every human effort to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit ends in wearying and torturing the body. This then cause us to a sound relationship with the Holy Spirit if we must possessed any of the spiritual gifts, because He is the only giver that the Father has approved. Let us identify the spiritual gifts that the Bible records for us in the books of Romans 12:6-8;1 Corinthians 12: 8-10; Eph. 4-7-12 and 1Peter 4:11: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirit, tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All these can be faked by demonic spirits therefore one must not be confused immediately these gifts manifest – this is why the Bible encourages the testing of all spirits (1 John 4:1-5). Jesus Himself spoke of how those who use these gifts without the Holy Spirit will be rejected on the last day (Matt. 7:21-23). This however does not suggests that spiritual gifts should be abandoned and dismissed as some people have argued. Spiritual gifts have not ceased because the Holy Spirit is still in business with the children of God here on earth. But the Holy Spirit can be withdrawn from anyone who does not live to please God (1 Sam. 16:14; Psa. 51:11; cf Gen. 6:3; Isa. 63:10). Be careful not to blaspheme who grieve the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:29; Acts 7:51; Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19; HEB. 10:29; 1 John 5:16).
The following points can be helpful in identifying one’s spiritual gifts:
- Recognize and believe the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. He is called God the Holy Spirit, which agrees with the biblical understanding that the Holy Spirit is God.
- Read the Bible passages on the gifts of the Holy Spirit paying closer attention to the Spirit of God as He points out some gifts to you. Usually while reading the Bible God has a way of highlighting certain passages or words to the reader. Such highlights are not supposed to be taken lightly because God is particularly communicating to the reader something beyond the reading. Go through the list of the spiritual gifts mentioned above or it the biblical passages and take note of gifts that seem to jump at you. It is most probable that some of those gifts will be yours.
- Take a critical study of the different spiritual gifts so that you can have sufficient knowledge about them and how they operate. In this critical study be observant of the points vis-a-vis your Christian experience. Find out if there are things you do that are similar to particular spiritual gifts you are studying. If there are, take note of them for further studies because they may be your spiritual gifts.
- Prayerfully ask other believers especially your spiritual leaders or your discipler on which gift of the Holy Spirit they think you possess. Spiritual gifts are not hidden if one possesses them. If you have a particular spiritual gift, chances are that those whom you fellowship with will identify it and they can confirm that to you.
- Do not withdraw yourself from any spiritual gift until you are sure it is not your gift. Sometimes you will get to know your spiritual gifts by constant usage. Spiritual gifts are for service and not for acquiring titles or positions in the Church. Those who have spiritual gifts are servants in the Church of God. You will never know your spiritual gift if you are not into service in the Church.
- Do not envy or judge others when they exercise their spiritual gifts. If you like the spiritual gift of another member of the Church, nothing stops you from prayerfully discussing it with the person. Through this interaction the person can guide and pray with you on how to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- All the spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit; therefore, do not belittle any, even if it does not have the recognition others have. Some of the spiritual gifts are very quiet and silent and are looked down upon while some are loud and open and are celebrated more, which should not be the case because all of them are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the LORD is giving you a particular gift of the Holy Spirit take it instead of rejecting it in the understanding that it will not make you popular. It is a pity that many are rushing for the gift of tongues while the gift of interpretation is largely unoccupied in the Church.
- The spiritual gift that make you fulfill and you are effective at are likely to be yours. These will be areas of ministry in the Church where you are so passionate about. Perhaps the best question to ask yourself as you identify your spiritual gifts is to say: what do I find joy and fulfillment in doing?
- Do not be afraid of any spiritual gift. God will never give His children gifts that will kill them. The gifts of God do not come with sorrow attached to them (Prov. 10:22). Whatever service the Spirit of the LORD offers you in the Church, exercise it well and you will find out that it is your spiritual gift.
- Pray and continue to pray for God to lead you and guide you as you identify and use your gifts to the glory and honour of his name alone. Since the spiritual gifts are not in us but from God through the Holy Spirit one can only desire them and pray to God for the release of them from above. Praying with expectation is very necessary for the receiving of the spiritual gifts (Matt. 7:7Phil. 4:6-7; Jas. 4:2).
The list above are helpful guide which are not exhaustive of what can be done to identify one’s spiritual gifts. However, it is important to note that identifying one’s spiritual gifts should not reduce the person to only those areas when opportunity calls for him in other areas of ministry. God has equipped all His children with the necessary capacity to operate both in their area of spiritual giftings and outside of it. One other thing to be watchful about is the abuse of the use of spiritual gifts which manifests itself in diverse ways including arrogance and pride, self-importance, superiority complex, charisma without character, etc.
There is so much debate about issues of the spiritual gifts but what has been offered above is presented in its simplest form to guide believers into understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit and identifying their particular gifts.