There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
–1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Why are there three different lists of spiritual gifts in the Bible? And why did Paul mention some gifts in Romans 12 that he did not mention in 1 Corinthians 12 or Ephesians 4? I believe there are three different lists because there are three different categories of spiritual gifts. And we find those categories outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Paul wrote, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” The three categories are gifts, ministries, and effects. Let’s look at each one.
The first category is gifts. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4). Romans 12:6-8 lists seven spiritual gifts. When we talk about finding your spiritual gift, we are talking about finding one of those seven gifts. Every person who is a born-again believer has one of those gifts. Your gift remains the same until God takes you to Heaven. From the moment God saves you until He takes you to Heaven, you have one spiritual gift and it never changes. This is your basic motivation and empowerment to accomplish God’s purpose.
The second category is ministries. “There are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:5). A ministry is an opportunity God opens for you to share your gift. We see some of those ministry opportunities in Ephesians 4:11, which says, “He gave some as apostles.” In the strictest sense, “apostle” referred to the 12 apostles selected by Jesus. In the broader sense, though, it means to take God’s Word where it has never been shared before. God also gave “some as prophets.” Prophets in the Bible were those who mainly spoke to God’s people. “Some as evangelists.” Those were people who spoke to unbelievers. “Some as pastors and teachers.” There are a variety of ministries. Your ministry, unlike your gift, can change over time. And you can have more than one ministry at the same time.
The third category is effects. “There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons” (1 Corinthians 12:6). The effects, such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, and healing, are results that God produces in other people’s lives when you are using your gift in the ministry that God has given you. When you exercise your gift in the ministries God gives you, the Holy Spirit will produce supernatural results in other people’s lives.
Never in the Bible are we told to concentrate on the effects. We don’t even have to concentrate on the ministries; God opens those up to us. The Bible says we are to concentrate on finding our spiritual gift. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Discovering Your Spiritual Gift” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.