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What do you think, based on the Scriptures, about spiritual gifts tests that try to determine what your gifts are? To me, they seem mostly bogus. One of my main reasons for this is a lot of the questions seem to ask questions that deal with your personality. That is, a nonchristian could answer a large portion of the questions and the test would come up with a list of their spiritual gifts, even though they don't have the Spirit. So, it's not possible that these are spiritual gifts. And, even for a Christian, the results may be very similar to if they had taken the test before becoming a Christian.

And, why is it so important to "know" your spiritual gifts? Isn't it important to know what God wants you to do and then do it, trusting in God? That is, shouldn't we trust that if God asks us to do something that He will give us whatever we need to accomplish it?

Moses said he wasn't a good speaker and God should send someone else. God said that He made the mouth and He would speak through Moses. God gave Moses even more help by saying Aaron could go with him and speak, but if you read the rest of the story, it is Moses speaking. So, that is God's Spirit moving Moses to be able to do something he was NOT inclined to do. If Moses filled out some spiritual gifts test, wouldn't it tell him he is not gifted in that way, and then wouldn't that give him even more doubt in his head about his ability to go?

And, related to that, do we even always have the same spiritual gifts?

Any thoughts on this? Thanks

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2 Answers

I tend to agree with your diagnosis: they are mostly bogus. Besides the problems you listed, they also don't tend to be particularly faithful to the Biblical definitions of the "gifts" in question. That being said they enjoy rather wide circulation in various parts of Christianity, with more charismatic traditions tending to hit them up a lot more frequently.

To play devil's advocate for a minute, I can think of two points in their defense:

  • All gifts/talents are from God whether the recipient is a believer and acknowledges that or not. Even those in most adamant rebellion against God were still made in his image and have certain characteristics as a result. Likewise, during our present age on earth some of God's graces are rained down upon the just (not that any humans are more just than others, this is a references to those who have been justified by faith) and the unjust (those who haven't been).

  • Christians often need to be reminded that they do have attributes that they are supposed to use to build up the body and minister to the world. Whether such "tests" are the best way to do that -- I would argue strongly that the answer is no -- is debatable but whether through the best most Biblical means possible or through messy cultural trends, there is some gem of value in reminding the faithful that they have been given gifts on loan from God and need to employ them in His service.

From a reformed protestant perspective, I would argue that the needed function is much more faithfully accomplished by diligent teaching of the Word, walking believers through what it teaches on these subjects challenging them to apply it to their life. Sitting them down with some contrived checklist that resembles a personality test isn't a method we find prescribed in Scripture.

To comment briefly on the gifts themselves, we do find some very specific roles described that God might have called some to and others not that have very specific qualifications, but the tests in question usually have more to do with the other gifts. The lists we have in Scripture of these gifts are pretty mix and match, and I think a case could be made that nobody has quite the same mixture of gifts nor is it a requirement to pigeon-hole a gift into a certain label in order to make use of it for the God's Kingdom. In other words those who serve as teaching elders should be qualified for the task exactly as prescribed, but those called to use their gifts of "giving" or "encouraging" or whatever should do so in whatever and as many varied ways as they can!

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1 Corinthinas 12 - 14 is one of the best disclosures about Spiritual Gifts. Amazingly, Paul mentioned at the end of chapter 12, "I [Paul] will show you a still more excellent way." and we proceed to chapter 13 which is about Love.

Jesus mentions that

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:35 (ESV)

So the Church should focus on finding ways to love one another, and gifts and diveristy of it is a means to show love to one another.

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