The Motivation For Using Spiritual Gifts

This study is part of a more extensive series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to make you aware of this entire resource before getting started.

The Motivation For Using Spiritual Gifts

Before we go on any further in the study of spiritual gifts, we need to stop and look at what is the Biblical motivating factor for using spiritual gifts.

There are those in today’s world that may have a perfectly valid spiritual gift but are using it in an invalid manner.

The spiritual gifts may be real, but the motivation of the person using the gift may be carnal.

That is why before I go on any further in teaching you about using spiritual gifts, I’m going to make sure that you understand that these gifts are meant to be used with proper motivation.

Because spiritual gifts can be such a powerful tool in the propagation of the gospel, and because any tool misused can cause great harm, we need to understand the motivating factors that cause us to desire to use spiritual gifts.

I hope that as you read this lesson, you will allow the Spirit of God to search your heart and let him weed out any motivations that would not be proper.

image of a Christian with a cross on their chest.

Spiritual Gifts Are Not A Badge Of Honor.

Early in my Christian life, I was dating a beautiful young lady who did not come from a Charismatic background. She and her family went to a very conservative church.

I was spiritually proud of the gift of speaking in tongues that God had given me and had very little wisdom if any.

One day I “thought” I heard the Lord speak to me that I needed to break up with this gal because she didn’t speak in tongues. Oh, how foolish I was in that!

My motivation was not love, but pride in how “spiritual” I was.

Not only did it hurt her deeply, but it kept her from receiving all the fullness that God had for her for years.

I was not hearing from God nor was I operating out of a motivation of love.

Now wouldn’t you know it, 32 years later I reaped what I sowed. Instead of being dumped for speaking in tongues, I was dumped because I believed that the gift of tongues could be appropriately used in a congregational setting.

Spiritual pride comes in many forms so be very careful to guard your heart again spiritual pride.

Many people assume that if a person has a spiritual gift that they must somehow be more spiritual. They believe that their maturity level must be higher than the average Christian.

They believe that somehow if the person is using spiritual gifts, they must have obtained a higher level of spirituality to receive that gift.

This is not biblical nor is it a good belief. The word in Greek for “spiritual gift” is charismata. Charis means grace. Mata means gift. Together they mean grace gifts or gifts of grace.

Grace is the undeserved favor of God. So these spiritual gifts are not something that is earned or obtained but is given to believers by the grace of God. You did not earn them nor do you deserve them.

This is important because we tend to give credence to the teachings of those that operate in spiritual gifts. We think that because they have a healing gift, or because they have a prophetic gift that they must be smarter than us and know God better than us.

When you understand that spiritual gifts are just an outworking of the grace of God, then you can no longer be motivated by the desire to obtain a higher level of spirituality. Grace is undeserved. Grace is unmerited.

When the church comes to understand that spiritual gifts do not make one person better than another person, or one person more spiritual than another person, then there will be no reason to feel that a spiritual gift is a badge of honor.

Until that time, we need to check our motives and make sure that we’re not seeking and desiring in spiritual gifts so that we can look more spiritual.

a tree in the shape of a hear symbolizing love

The Proper Motivation For Using Spiritual Gifts Is Love.

The Biblical passage for spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians covers three chapters. 1st Corinthians 12 gives a list of spiritual gifts. 1st Corinthians 14 provides the proper use of spiritual gifts. Moreover, sandwiched right between those two chapters is the famous chapter on love.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 (NKJV) The Greatest Gift

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Paul in this passage does the same thing that I am doing here today. He is making sure that the Corinthian church understands that spiritual gifts are supposed to be motivated by love.

He makes it very clear that if spiritual gifts are not motivated by love that they are worthless.

This is one of the things that concerns me the most about how spiritual gifts are being used within the church today. You cannot convince me that what we see on Christian TV is motivated by love.

Let me show you what I mean. Paul goes on to give a picture of love in 1st Corinthians 13.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now I ask you, is what you are seeing on Christian TV or even in your local church look like that?

I don’t know about you, but when I watch some of the famous healing evangelists, I see people parading around. I see people seeking their gain. I see people who were puffed up.

This is why I hate hype so much!

The same thing seems to be going on with the current prophetic movement.

I believe in prophecy, but I highly question the motive behind those that feel they need to call themselves prophets and especially the recent fad of every Tom Dick and Harry running around calling themselves apostles.

It is nothing more than parading around and being puffed up.

I don’t make people call me pastor or use it as a title of reverence. It is my calling within the body of Christ, but it is not my title. The need for titles to me shows a need for recognition.

When you are seeking spiritual gifts and operating in the gift that God has given you, your motivation must be a love for the person you are using the gift on.

When you are laying hands on the sick, you must be motivated by a love for the sick person and want to see the best for them.

When you give a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge to an individual in must be because you love that person with the love of Jesus. Moreover, when you speak in tongues in a congregational setting, it must not be because you want to attract attention to yourself, but because you genuinely love and wish the best for that congregation.

The same applies to all nine of the spiritual gifts.

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Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of L.I.F.E. Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988. Pastor Duke specializes in healing hurting churches and bringing revival, renewal, and restoration of the presence of God to the body of Christ in America to make the church spiritual again. Pastor Duke has a few limited dates available to speak in other churches. If your church needs a fresh move of the Spirit of God or has gone through a painful and wounding season, click here. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world. He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center.

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