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6 Types of Gifts
The language of spiritual gifts is used in three different ways in the New Testament.
- In Ephesians 4, the ‘gifts’ that are listed are people – the ascended Christ gives to his church the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. That is, the ‘gift’ language focuses on the minister.
- In 1 Cor 12, the different gifts are different ‘manifestations of the Spirit’ (v.7). Here, the focus is on the enabling power of the Spirit, be that prophesy or tongues or healing or whatever.
- In Romans 12, the ‘gift’ language is used for types of ministries, i.e., the different kinds of service for which God has equipped his people.
Romans 12:7-8 is a relatively comprehensive list of the different types of ministries.
7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
These verses suggest 6 categories of gifts, listed below with some small tweaking in terminology.
Serving in God’s Name involves doing good by practical hands-on, often behind-the-scenes tasks. 1 Cor 12:28 describes this gift as ‘helps’, which is practically responding to the needs of others. As we saw in 1 Peter 4:11, we perform this service in God’s strength and for God’s glory. This is kind of ministry exercised by a deacon, like the first deacons in Acts 7 who waited on tables to ensure that various widows received food.
Speaking God’s Word encompasses a wide range of word-ministries – both formal, like prophesy and teaching and evangelism, and informal, like the conversations we all have with one another. Col 3:16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom”.
Encouraging God’s People involves personal-to-person ministry that builds-up, exhorts, counsels and otherwise encourages God’s people.
Sharing God’s Blessings involves using the resources that God has given us to be a blessing to others. It might be the resources of our homes, exhibited in hospitality, the resources of our possessions, exhibited in generosity, or the resources with our finances, shown in giving.
Leading God’s Flock involves the leadership of God’s people. This might be in the formal sense of an ‘overseer’ or elder, or in more informal leadership. Leadership includes gifts of administration and management.
Showing God’s Compassion expresses God’s mercy to others, by showing care, concern and compassion.