Looking at Spiritual Gift Surveys

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability.  Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.  For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

  • Matthew 25:14-30

“Jesus’ parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 was a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacities. This parable has nothing to do with natural gifts and abilities, but relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit as He was first given at Pentecost. We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our education or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, we will falsely accuse Him as the servant falsely accused his master when he said, ‘You expect more of me than you gave me the power to do. You demand too much of me, and I cannot stand true to you here where you have placed me.’ When it is a question of God’s Almighty Spirit, never say, ‘I can’t.’ Never allow the limitation of your own natural ability to enter into the matter. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us.”

  • Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I used this quote from Chambers almost exactly a year ago, but I mentioned recently that I had completed a “Spiritual Gifts Survey,” and I thought it to be a waste of time.  It wasn’t a total waste of time.  It was kind of cute. Yet, I am reminded of a few posts by Dave Peever of Live 4 Him about the concerns regarding the surveys.

The Sunday school teacher thought that some people who are new to Christianity or have not made good progress on the road to sanctification might benefit from the survey.  Thus, I should tone down my objections or they will become disheartened.  Maybe I will develop a cough and skip Sunday school when the class discusses the survey, but I cannot fail to comment here.  I will not be silenced.

The survey was a blend of questions regarding natural born gifts and experiences.  If you were not in the right place at the right time, you missed the experience.  Some of the experiences were people complimenting you on how your expressed something, did something, etc.  If you had no witnesses, you did not get that experience.  If you had a sycophant present, you were, most likely, complimented without deserving the compliment.  The survey results are thus skewed.  As for the natural born gifts, those are not spiritual gifts, no matter how much wrapping paper you use to cover them.

It comes down to people trusting in their own abilities and not trusting God, trusting a man-made survey instead of God.  That is at the root of a lot of the ills within the church today, a grassroots lack of faith.  I wrote two days ago about how worldly wisdom was not wisdom at all.  Worldly wisdom thinks that Godly wisdom is foolishness and vice versa.  In dealing with spiritual gifts, we rely on a survey so that we can easily say “no” when the survey says that we are poor in the area needed.  When the survey says that we are strong in another area needed, we can shove everyone else aside and take over, relying on our natural gifts, and not the gifts given by the Holy Spirit.

Or, you can say as Isaiah said, “Here I am.  Send me.”  Then God gives you the gifts needed to accomplish the mission.

When I have said that before, some Christians have argued that I am advocating an Old Testament concept that the Holy Spirit gives someone a special gift to perform a special task, and then the gift is gone.  There are not many like King David in the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit came and stayed.

But I am not advocating that at all.  We can all be like King David in that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, He resides on the throne of our heart, but we are also imbued with the Holy Spirit.  There is a laundry list of spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit can give us.  Some are evident immediately upon salvation, but others come when needed.  The point is that we get all of the Holy Spirit.  We do not get a limited Holy Spirit.  We can’t order up pieces of the Holy Spirit in a cafeteria line.  “I’ll have some wisdom, some, prophecy, some evangelist, and a big plate of leadership.  That’s to go, so wrap it up really good.”  No, we get the Holy Spirit.  All of Him.  We have the spiritual presence of God within us.

Do not get wrapped up in what you are good at.  Trust God.  He may want you to test your wings and fly.

The key word in our relationship with anyone is ‘trust.’  That includes God.

If you are good at something, it may mean that you must slow down in that area, because you will rely on your own skills, ignoring what God is bringing to the table.

That is why I have heartburn even with those newly re-born Christians and the survey.  They will start off their new life with Jesus relying on the skills from the old life, and thus relying more on self and relying less on Jesus.  They may be saved, but they do not grow in the faith.

In Bodie and Brock Thoene’s novel, When Jesus Wept, the first chapter starts with a conversation between Lazarus and his friend, Samson (not the Samson of Judges, just a friend).  They were discussing the different vines and the fruit that the vines produced.  One group of vines were in a rugged area.  They produced good grapes and the finest of wines.  Why?  They had to overcome.  They had to work harder to get the nutrients and water necessary to produce fruit.  Their strength in going to the added effort was evident in the richness of the fruit.  We can learn from that in our spiritual growth.

There is something to be said for simply trusting that the Holy Spirit has given you an ample supply of every spiritual gift imaginable.  You only display the spiritual gifts that are needed, when needed.

With trust in God, I can get in front of a crowd and give a talk, in spite of a fear of public speaking.  With trust in God, I could join Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace, even though I knew all about how hot the furnace was.  With trust in God, I can share my faith with others.

When you are doing God’s will, He gives you the tools that you need.  As one of His children, you already have most of what you need with the Holy Spirit in you.  You may need some training or other developed skills.  Let’s use an illustration of traveling down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  Going down river is a bumpy ride.  Like doing God’s will, it will not always be smooth sailing.  The ride down the river is filled with excitement and thrills, but with a good guide and good weather, you will succeed.

But let’s say that you are doing something that is not God’s will for your life or God’s will for the church.  It might be a good idea, just not meant for you.  That’s like taking the same journey through the Grand Canyon, but starting at the bottom of the canyon and moving upstream.  If you have tremendous skill and big muscles, you might make a little progress, but in time, the current will simply be too strong.  You will turn to God and complain that the “survey said!”

Even when the survey was administered in good faith, are you willing to lay the survey aside and follow God, trusting in Him without reservation?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

One Comment

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  1. Amen – but then you probably knew I would agree!

    Liked by 1 person

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