Giving, Hospitality and Mercy, Poverty

These articles about the Spiritual Gifts Discovery we are doing church-wide have been focused on how we are determining gifts, why we need to do this in the church, and what the benefits and consequences are for each of us to discover our own giftedness. Let’s now begin to describe the kinds of gifts the Spirit gives us. First look at the picture above. This diagram associates the three persons of the Trinity with the dimensions or drivers of giftedness.

The Dimensions of Gift-based Ministry are Wisdom, Commitment and Power. These are the means of ministry by which specific gifts work. Within the Natural Church Development concepts we are using for this discovery, there are 30 spiritual gifts, 10 in each dimension. While this arrangement, like most spiritual gift lists, is a human construct, each of the gifts we’ll highlight has a basis in scripture. The NCD list is no more or less “biblical” or valid than others, but gives us an easy frame-work for considering and using our gifts. Of course, each gift is not restricted to serving only one aspect of God, and they should all be applied for wholeness of growth in a “3-color” way.

To make this review convenient for all, the gifts list will be serialized by dimension and sub-category over several newsletters. If there is interest in a specific gift, please use the basis scriptures to explore it more fully. We start this month with the first sub-group of Wisdom (green) gifts, where ministry is mostly directed to the underprivileged in society. The Wisdom gifts and groups address:

1) Social needs: Giving, Hospitality, Mercy, Voluntary poverty;

2) Use of the mind: Knowledge, Organization, Wisdom; and

3) Creative potential: Artistic creativity, Craftsmanship, Music.

For “mainline” church members many of the gifts in this segment may seem the most accessible (comfortable), although that human feeling has no scriptural basis for their distribution by the Spirit.

The spiritual gift of Giving is dedication to a significant level beyond the “normal” tithe expectation for all Christians. Scripture: 2Cor.8:2-5; also Ex.25:1; Luke3:11, Luke21:1-4, John12:3-8, Acts4:32-37, Acts20:35, Rom.12:8. This gift is based on proportionality not on prosperity; it proceeds out of a willing heart rather than from an obligated budget; and it requires planning for maximum benefit.

The spiritual gift of Hospitality, more than the welcoming of visitors expected of every Christian, is shown in the joy of making guests feel at home, even outside their own homes. Scripture: Gen.18:1-8; Also Matt.10:11-14, 40 and 25:35; Luke10:38-42; Rom.12:9-13;Titus1:7-8; 1Pet.4:9-10; Heb.13:1-2; 3John5-10.

Those with the spiritual gift of Mercy distinguish their gift through loving actions for the needs of people on the margins of society. Scripture: Luke10:33-37; also Matt.25:37-40; Mark9:41;Acts9:36-42; Rom.12:4-8; James1:27. The skill of listening is a key feature for this gift to be used wisely.

The spiritual gift of Voluntary Poverty is often paired with the gift of Giving (but the inverse is not true). Scripture: Acts4:32-37; also Acts2:44-45; 1Cor.13:3; 2Cor.6:10; Philp4:11-13. Those with this gift could, but choose not to, have higher standards of living.

In first looking at these examples of spiritual gifts, it seems that they are like the types of behavior expected of all Christians. Each of the gifts does have a corresponding likeness in universal Christian responsibilities. Distinguishing the two is not just about word choices, but allows them to co-existent with harmony in the body of Christ.

Spiritual giftedness exhibits a much higher degree of commitment of time, energy, and resources than expected behavior, and is why God distributes gifts individually rather than generally. There are two general dangers common to all spiritual gifts. The first danger is gift projection, a tendency in all of us. A person with a specific gift should find its use “easier” than one without that gift, and may become judgmental of others who don’t do it as well (e.g. Hospitality). Our gift should not be a cause of another’s guilty conscience. The second general danger is disobedience. Our not having a specific gift doesn’t relieve us of the similar universal Christian responsibility (e.g. given an opportunity, we all should be ready to share our faith stories, even though we all do not have the spiritual gift of Evangelism). Look here for more spiritual gift explanations next month.

Originally publish in The CHIMES as, “SPIRITUAL GIFTS – WHAT ARE THEY (Part 1)?