Studying the book of Acts has made me rethink a lot of things that I thought I knew. It has made me reconsider some of the things that I believed. Not that these things weren’t true, but my understanding of them only scratched the surface. There is always more to learn if we are willing to be taught. One of these things is concerning spiritual gifts. In the book of Acts we see all the gifts of the Spirit being poured out into the lives of others- believers and non-believers. In chapter 3 we see Peter and John heal a lame man, using the gifts of healing to give to this lame man what he needed most- Jesus Christ.
The gift of healing that Peter and John were given was not for them, but for the man who needed to see the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Now, this is a truth most of us know and understand. We know that God, through His divine grace, gives to each one of us gifts to encourage and lift up the body of Christ. But are all the gifts we have been given gifts, or are some of them talents? This was a source of discussion that I and a sister in the Lord had one day. She was telling me how the Lord showed her that not all gifts are gifts, some are talents. So how do we know the difference, and is there a difference in the way we use them? This led me to rethink some things about spiritual gifting and how the Lord uses not only what He gives us as gifts, but also our talents.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10
Here, Peter is referring to gifts. He is referring to the spiritual gifts that have been listed for us in 1 Corinthians 12:7. Each one of us has been given gifts to serve others, to edify the church and to glorify the Lord. But what then are the talents we have been given, and how are they different from the gifts? I don’t believe there is a difference. A talent is something that you do well. Some sing and play music well, and they can do that to either glorify God or glorify themselves. We see this truth in the world we live in. The Beatles were talented, and they used their talents to bring themselves fame, fortune, and glorify themselves. Music is a talent, not a gift. I write but this is not a gift, it is a talent. Because I could use this gift to glorify myself, make myself famous or I can use it to glorify God. The difference between gifts and talents are how we use them.
Spiritual gifts are not given unless you are a believer in Jesus Christ. For instance, the gifts of healing can only be given to us through the divine power of the Holy Spirit. We do not see many worldly people walking around healing others. They may have a degree in medical science, but only true healing comes from the Lord. My talents are given to me at birth. We all have talents, we all have things that we are good at, some can sing and play music, some can write, some are great speakers, and so on. But how we use those talents is what makes the difference.
Peter tells us that each one of us has received a gift. God has freely bestowed upon us extraordinary powers to enable us to serve the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts are poured out in us for the purpose of building up, encouraging one another, and to show forth the manifold grace of God to all who experience these gifts. Peter tells us that because we have received these specific gifts, we should be using them to minister to one another. To minister means to serve, it is not a title reserved for the elevated or leadership in the church building. It is who we are, servants of Christ. We can all say that we are ministers of Christ, because we are. We serve Him, and we use the gifts that He has given us to bring glory to Him.
The same goes for our talents. We can use them to minister to one another, or we can use them to serve ourselves. If I write to become famous, then I am using the talents God has gifted me with for myself and not for Him. The spiritual gifts are different than the talents we are given, but they both have the same purpose. Whatever we are good at, and always have been good at, even before we became Christians, these are talents. But those areas of your life that you have only been good at since you became a Christian, these are spiritual gifts.
I have had people tell me that there are many gifts of the Spirit that are not mentioned in the Bible. I believe this is wrong. What we may be referring to as a gift of the Spirit is most likely a talent. To me, the difference is how we use them. Just because someone is talented at teaching, doesn’t mean that God is using that talent in them. Just because someone can sing and play the guitar beautifully, doesn’t mean that they should be the worship leader. The gifts of the Spirit should not be confused with the talents we are given. But, both should bring glory to God.
I can write a thousand books, but I can use those to glorify myself. But, if I only write one book and it is for the glory of God, then I allowing Him to use the talents I have been given to show forth the grace of God to all who read it. No matter what it is, whether it is a gift or a talent, if we are not using them or allowing God to use them, then they are chaff in the wind, and they will count as nothing. No matter what it is that you are gifted in- allow God to use it to bring glory to Him. No matter how talented you are in something- allow God to use it to bring glory to Him. The difference between gifts and talents is what we do with them.
I am talented, but if I do not bring these talents to the Lord for His purpose, then they are of no use and no worth. If I am given a certain spiritual gift but do not allow God to use it in me, then it is of no use and no worth. All that we do, whether through gifting or through our talents should always be given back to God. He gives, we receive, and then we give it back to Him for His glory, for His honor and for His praise. Being talented does not mean that you have a gift of the Spirit; it just means you are talented. But let us use the gifts of the Spirit and the talents we have been given to show forth the grace and goodness of God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. In the end, that is what both have been given to us for.
May my talents and my gifts bring glory to You, Lord, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.