1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Some have credited the famous American author Mark Twain with the statement: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Whether Twain’s or not, I love that quote! It is so true. I would say that for many years I existed, but I really wasn’t sure for what purpose. I accepted Christ into my heart at the age of about 7, and it was real, but for most of my early years I was just living. Why had God put me on this earth? Was his call on my life to do just that, to just live?
One thing I knew for sure, if it was to play sports, I could do it better than most of the kids in my school, my city and beyond, and I could play sports from early in the morning until my mom called me in at night. Surely this is the gift God gave me and the reason he put me on this earth. However, one of the turning points in my life came when I heard some solid teaching on Spiritual Gifts. One key teaching is the difference between a “Talent” and a “Spiritual Gift”. Two key differences I noted between talents and spiritual gifts were: 1) Talents are possessed by the saved and unsaved while Spiritual Gifts are possessed only by the Saved; 2) Talents are not necessarily for others and can be used selfishly, but Spiritual Gifts are to be used solely to serve God’s purposes.
At a minimum, I’d encourage every Christian to read: 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12:3-8, and Ephesians 4:1-13. In these passages you’ll find Paul listing various Spiritual Gifts including: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, serving, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, showing mercy, apostleship, evangelism, and pastoring.
I don’t read athleticism on the above list. While God has definitely used that talent in my life (i.e. he has used my athletic abilities in the past as a tool to honor him), there is no doubt that it is the Spiritual Gifts which he has given me, that he uses to advance His kingdom. While churches may have different opinions on certain gifts listed above, often called the “Sign Gifts” (i.e. whether they are present today) there are some things that are very clear. From 1 Corinthians 12 we learn that: there are different gifts, but all distributed by the same Spirit (vs 4); God is at work through these gifts (vs 6); the gifts are given for the common good (vs 7); and God distributes these gifts just as He pleases (vs 11).
In Romans 12, Paul draws a beautiful picture of the body of believers. It is one body made up of many members each with their own function. And this imagery leads into Paul’s discussion of Spiritual Gifts. In order for you to function well in the church body, it is vital that you determine what your Spiritual Gifts are. If you do not yet know your Spiritual Gifts, reach out to your church leadership, or seek out a course on the topic, and most importantly pray to God that he might make evident to you the Spiritual Gifts he has given to you to further His Kingdom! When you figure that out, you will be finding a very big piece in your personal puzzle. You will find renewed purpose, focus for where you should serve, and true contentment in your place in God’s family.