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How does God decide who gets which spiritual gifts?

Spiritual gifts are a little like special God-given talents He grants His sons and daughters for the sole purpose of edifying the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:12). Edification is defined as "the instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually." These gifts, unlike natural talents or fruits of the Spirit, are very specific to each believer's unique calling and purpose for building God's Kingdom. They will be used throughout his own life relationships, experiences, and opportunities. (See "What are spiritual gifts?" to discover the names of spiritual gifts listed in the Bible.)

Because God is omnipotent and knows the future, He knows exactly what gifts you will need for everything that will happen in your life (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12). Those are the specific gifts God will give you.

When will I get my spiritual gifts?

The Bible doesn't tell us exactly when God gives spiritual gifts, but most believe they're granted at the moment of salvation (spiritual birth). However, some verses seem to indicate that it's possible to receive spiritual gifts later in life and/or when they're needed most. (See 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6.) It does stand to reason, then, that if you deeply desire a certain spiritual gift, it wouldn't be silly at all to ask God for it and work toward developing those traits (1 Corinthians 14:12-13).

In fact, the apostle Paul tells the believers in Corinth that it's OK to "earnestly desire" gifts we wish to use for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 12:28-31). Just as King Solomon desired wisdom so that he could be a better ruler for God’s people, so God may grant us the gifts we desire in order to better serve His church. Just be aware that God knows what's best for each of us, and you must be content with His guidance and will (Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 11:33).

Spiritual Gifts: With great power comes great responsibility.

Whatever spiritual gifts you may have, whatever purposes God gives you for your life, you can be assured that God will equip you with whatever you need for that work. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." And just because we don't have a specific gift, that doesn't mean we can never do those things. God will equip you for the opportunities that come.

For example, all believers are commanded to tell others about our faith and about God's gift of salvation (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). While one person may not be as gifted in evangelism as the next (who perhaps can speak God's truth to a crowd of strangers), they may still have opportunities to share their faith in little ways and little moments one-on-one. God will give you the words you need at that time. Studying His Word and being familiar with why you believe what you do will give you more confidence in evangelism if/when that time arrives.

Likewise, just because someone has been given a spiritual gift, that doesn't mean that they are automatically 100% perfect at it. A believer who is determined to study and know God's Word forward and backward so she can become a better teacher may actually be more prepared than someone who was given the gift of teaching but completely neglects to develop their gift.

We have a responsibility to work on maturing our spiritual gifts in the same way we practice a natural talent to improve our skills.

Regardless of a believer's spiritual giftedness, ALL believers are called to develop certain areas that are mentioned in the spiritual gifts lists: to be hospitable, to show acts of mercy, to serve one another, to evangelize, etc. And we must do all these things out of love because, without love, our gifts are rendered worthless (1 Corinthians 13).

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." —1 Corinthians 13:1-3

As we develop our spiritual gifts and live to honor God and bring Him glory, our Heavenly Father will delight in us and give us the desires of our hearts (1 Corinthians 3:5-8, 12:31-14:1; Psalm 37:4-5). With that kind of relationship, we can surely discover a life filled with joy, satisfaction, and divine purpose.

TL;DR

Because God is omnipotent, He knows exactly what spiritual gifts you will need for everything that will happen in your life (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12), and those specific gifts are the ones God will give you. We have a responsibility to work on maturing our spiritual gifts in the same way we practice a natural talent to improve our skills. Whatever purposes God has for your life, you can be assured that God will equip you with whatever you need for that work (Ephesians 2:10). Regardless of a believer's spiritual giftedness, ALL believers are called to be hospitable, merciful, loving, and compassionate; to serve others; and to share God's message of salvation.

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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