We discussed the crisis of spiritual gifts in the Church and what a spiritual gift is. Now we discuss what a spiritual gift is not.
This is important because of the confusion regarding the definition of a spiritual gift. For example, in the spiritual gift survey we previously referenced, 20% of the respondents claimed they had spiritual gifts that aren’t actually spiritual gifts: “sense of humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, premonition, creativity, and clairvoyance.”
And since starting this spiritual gift series, questions have risen from readers and confirmed the confusion—some people don’t know what a spiritual gift is and what’s it’s not. For example, Are spiritual gifts different from the fruits of the Spirit? Patience appeared in the survey as a spiritual gift, but according to Galatians 5:22, patience is a fruit of the Spirit as well. Is patience both a gift and a fruit?
Or the question, Are talents the same as spiritual gifts? Creativity also appeared in the survey as a spiritual gift, but is creativity more of a natural talent? What’s the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift? Are they the same?
These kinds of questions signify curiosity and confusion, so let’s jump in. To start, here’s my preferred definition of a spiritual gift (C. Peter Wagner):
“A spiritual gift is a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ, according to God’s grace, for use within the context of the Body.”
Now let’s discuss four things a spiritual gift is not, from Wagner’s book on the topic: