Ephesians 2: 8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We are saved for good works. However, we do not have to do those good works in our own strength. He gives us everything we need. He saves us, loves us, empowers us, and strengthens us by His Spirit. And one of the ways He does this is by giving us spiritual gifts.
I don’t remember when I first learned about spiritual gifts. It was probably during high school at youth group. However, my understanding that the Lord had given me specific gifts became real during missions trips that I went on each summer during university. We would often pray for one another and encourage one another to be aware of what the Spirit was doing inside of us and around us.
One summer I was on a team that was supporting new church plants in Eastern Canada. We stopped at a Tim Horton’s (as one does when they are on a missions trip in Canada) and we got in line for coffee. While we were standing in line, I noticed a woman sitting at the back of the coffee shop by herself and I had a strong inclination to go talk to her. I wrestled internally but I could not shake that deep sense. Each time I looked at her, I could see that deep inside of her there was something terribly painful. I sensed that I needed to go to her and say, “God sees your deep sorrow and He wants you to know that He loves you.”
I thought, “what do I have to lose? I’m in Nova Scotia!” So, I left the line and went over to her, asked if I could sit down, and delivered the message. Her eyes filled with tears and she told me that she had just left her father’s bedside, that he was dying and that she felt completely abandoned. She knew about God but could not believe He would want anything to do with her. I reassured her of His love for her, prayed for her, and told her about the new church in town. This was my first experience with discernment.
Since that summer, the gift of discernment has been affirmed in me through a variety of situations and people. I have learned that, for the most part, the gift of discernment goes hand in hand with prayer. Being empowered by the Holy Spirit to discern allows me to pray boldly and specifically for people which strengthens their faith and builds up the body.
I have also had the experience of having a spiritual gift for a moment in time when I needed it. In 2010, I led a team of 10 Westsiders to India over the Christmas break to serve at one of the Child of Mine children’s homes. While we were there, we attended church in the local village. The whole service was in Hindi. During the announcement part of the service, I heard the pastor speak, in Hindi, about the events that were happening on Tuesday during the time that my team was planning to do our program. I thought, “That’s right when we’re supposed to be doing our program.” After the service, I approached the pastor and asked if what I had heard was correct. She was astonished and said, “But I said that in Hindi.” And I said, “I guess God wanted me to know.” This is the only time I have used the gift of interpreting tongues but I do believe it could happen again.
Spiritual gifts are a beautiful expression of the Spirit moving in and through the body of Christ. He empowers us with gifts for His glory and for the building up of the body. We all need to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is doing in us and around us and be brave enough to walk in the direction that He is leading. As we walk in obedience, other believers will acknowledge and affirm the spiritual gifts we have been given.