If you’re anything like me, you sometimes struggle with comparing your own unique, God-ordained spiritual gifts to those of other people in your life. It can be so easy to watch other Christians as they use their spiritual gifts and wonder if, just maybe, those individuals are more impactful or blessed than we are.
I often struggle with this myself. As someone who is often too attentive to what others around me are doing and thinking, I find that I’m very quick to notice when someone is better at something than I am. I might watch as someone responds to a situation with much more grace than I think I could have, I might notice how someone decided to serve without being prompted when I would never have thought to do so, or I might watch someone be praised for their more public spiritual gift and become envious. Clearly, I have issues and you all now know just how much I need Jesus. 🙂 But, what I think the enemy is always trying to distract us from is the fact that we each have our own unique giftings, and while we can absolutely always grow and develop in other areas, we each do have certain areas in which we were created to shine.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 with me…
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
While there are many different ways we are gifted as followers of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that we share the very same God, and thus, our spiritual gifts should draw us closer together instead of causing division among the body of Christ. Going back to the personal examples I shared regarding the ways I struggle with comparing my specific spiritual gifts to others’ spiritual gifts, I have begun to try to handle those exact situations differently.
For example, instead of beating myself up because I know I might not have responded to a situation with as much grace as my friend, I have learned that I can instead pray for an abundance of grace to be given to me in that moment. If I don’t have any grace with myself first, I won’t have any leftover to give to others around me, and I want to be known as a woman of grace.
Instead of feeling frustrated that I never thought to serve those around me in the tangible ways in which my friend instinctually did, I have learned that I can instead use that as a reminder the next time I see a need that is unmet. Since this happened in my own life and I was inspired by the example of a dear friend who has the heart of a complete servant, I have become more servant-hearted and noticed unmet needs. I can choose to surround myself with friends and other believers who provide an amazing example and sharpen me as a Christ follower… undoubtedly, the impact this choice has on my life and on others’ lives is huge.
Lastly, instead of becoming envious because my friend’s spiritual gift is more public than my behind the scenes spiritual gift, I have learned that I can instead choose to praise God for the way He is using that person. I’ve even found that if I build that friend up, perhaps by verbally encouraging them that their spiritual gift is impacting those around them, my envy quickly subsides… because it is not about me anymore- it’s about the kingdom of God being moved forward. The enemy wants to twist and contort our spiritual gifts and use them for evil, but I hope today’s text reminds each of us that we need to be on guard against this.
Friend, you were created beautifully, intricately and purposefully. Be encouraged today to continually be discovering the unique ways God gifted you and growing into that. I’ll end with one of my all time favorite verses on this very topic, Galatians 6:5, which in The Message version says:
4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.