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GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?

GIFTS

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Answer: There are similarities and differences between talents and spiritual gifts. Both are gifts from God. Both grow in effectiveness with use. Both are intended to be used on behalf of others, not for selfish purposes. First Corinthians 12:7 states that spiritual gifts are given to benefit others and not ourselves. As the two great commandments deal with loving God and others, it follows that one should use his talents for those purposes. But to whom and when talents and spiritual gifts are given differs. A person (regardless of his belief in God or in Christ) is given a natural talent as a result of a combination of genetics (some have natural ability in music, art, or mathematics) and surroundings (growing up in a musical family will aid one in developing a talent for music), or because God desired to endow certain individuals with certain talents (for example, Bazeleel in Exodus 31:1-6). Spiritual gifts are given to all believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3, 6) at the time they place their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. At that moment, the Holy Spirit gives to the new believer the spiritual gift(s) He desires the believer to have (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Romans 12:3-8 lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others (in a general sense), teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy. First Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as the word of wisdom (ability to communicate spiritual wisdom), the word of knowledge (ability to communicate practical truth), faith (unusual reliance upon God), the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a language that one has not studied), and interpretation of tongues. The third list is found in Ephesians 4:10-12, which speaks of God giving to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. There is also a question as to how many spiritual gifts there are, as no two lists are the same. It is also possible that the biblical lists are not exhaustive, that there are additional spiritual gifts beyond the ones the Bible mentions.

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