Q&A: Proper Emphasis of Spiritual Gifts

Proper Emphasis of Spiritual Gifts

What is the proper use and emphasis of spiritual gifts?

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Answer

So, with respect to proper use and emphasis of spiritual gifts, first of all, I think we should recognize the diversity of gifts within the body of Christ. So, if we can understand and agree together that everyone is gifted in some way by the Spirit to serve him, to serve his church, to serve God's world as a whole, then there's a great diversity there. I personally don't see the gifts in the New Testament that Paul lists especially as being exhaustive. I think there may be more than that. But this gets directly to the question of the use and emphasis of these things. In terms of the use of these things, I want to say two things immediately. One is that they're not limited to the local church itself, certainly not to undermine the use of them in the local church with respect to the gift of love, or compassion, or administration, or mercy, or whatever the case may be. There's so much opportunity within the body of Christ when it comes to our fellowship and love together and service together to employ those gifts. But those gifts also must, I think, be flexed outside the church as well, and those are done through our various vocations. When I say vocations I mean the places where we work, but beyond that our neighborhoods, our family lives, those places where we're called to live and to be and to do. So, spiritual gifts seem to be flexed in those directions as well. In terms of the proper use and emphasis of these things, again, there's so much diversity there it's hard to be specific, but one thing that I think we must always keep in from of us is that any exercise of a spiritual gift that we can't draw straight lines to the love of God and the love of other people is probably is misuse of that gift. So, regardless of where this gift is being flexed, whether inside the church or outside the church, or whether it's in your family life, in your parenting strategies, in your business practices, in whatever that you're doing, if you're flexing a gift that the Spirit has actually given you and you can't draw straight lines between what you're doing, how you're exercising that gift, and the love of God and love of other people, we should probably back up and reconsider.

Answer by Dr. Benjamin Quinn

Dr. Benjamin Quinn is Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness for the College at Southeastern and Assistant Professor of Theology and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.