How do spiritual gifts differ from natural talents and the fruit of the Spirit?
The Bible describes spiritual gifts in a way that sets them apart from natural talents (human abilities) and the fruit of the Spirit (spiritual fruitfulness). Read on for importance of making this distinction.
Spiritual Gifts and Natural Talents or Human Abilities
Bottom line: All we have comes from God so in that sense natural talents or human abilities, whatever they might be, are all gifts from God. Whether spiritual or natural gifts, we should use them for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) as faithful stewards (1 Cor 4:2) of that which He has given us.
Scripture, however, appears to set apart spiritual gifts as something different from natural talents or human abilities.
- Talents are natural abilities that seem to be hereditary, to run in the genes, or to have been learned through conditioning from the environment in which we lived or through training we have received. Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are an empowerment of supernatural origin, not a result of genetics, training, or conditioning.
- Unbelievers, as well as believers, have talents or natural abilities. Only believers, however, have spiritual gifts.
Talents or natural abilities can be a vehicle through which we use our gifts which is possibly why some people will equate the two.
Spiritual Gifts and The Fruit of the Spirit or Spiritual Fruitfulness
Both the gifts and spiritual fruit are works of the Holy Spirit but they are two distinct workings of the Spirit.
- Spiritual Gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
Spiritual gifts are a special divine empowerment to serve like teaching, leading, encouraging, giving, showing mercy, etc.
- Spiritual Fruit: Galatians 5:16-26
Spiritual fruit is the result of what we do in His power like the development of character traits, new converts, or praise given to God.
Spiritual gifts therefore have more to do with the process of ministry whereas spiritual fruit is the product of ministry.
Yield Both the Spiritual and Natural to the Control of the Spirit
Rather than get hung up in terminology, "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31) and in "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17). Depend on the Lord as you use both your spiritual gifts and natural abilities in the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God and with that focus you will bear spiritual fruit.
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