Do Some Have Better Spiritual Gifts?

Does it ever feel like people you know are more “spiritual” than you are? Like they have more opportunities to influence people for God’s kingdom than you do? Do you ever struggle with the comparison game: “if I had more charisma, I could lead more people to Christ,” or, “why can they understand the Bible so easily and I can’t”, or even “they must be a better Christian than I am, look at all their talents they can serve the church with!”

The struggle in comparing ourselves to others is a legitimate one that everyone faces—even the people who appear the “most talented” or “most spiritual” can struggle with this. Does God really bestow better spiritual gifts to some and not others? 

The answer is both yes and no.

Differing Gifts

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith. .  .” – Romans 12:3-6

It is true that God has given some abilities and aptitudes that may be more influential and helpful to larger amounts of people. This is the clear from 1 Corinthians’ passage on spiritual gifts:

“Earnestly desire the greater gifts [leadership]” – 12:31 

and,

“. . .Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. . . the one who speaks in tongues builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.” – 14:1, 4

This is also found in the Parable of the Sower, 

“[Some seeds] fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty.” – Matthew 13:8

In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that some spiritual gifts should be “sought” after more than others. While spiritual abilities are given and chosen by God, we are to ask and seek out those gifts. God may confirm or deny those gifts in us. The reason that leadership and teaching gifts are to be sought more than others is that they will benefit the body in a greater way than other gifts (such as speaking in tongues).

In the Parable of the Sower, the “seeds”, the Gospel as received in a person’s heart, vary in their reproductive output. All the seeds yield fruit, or create a spiritual effect, but some produce a hundred more than the original, some sixty times and some thirty times. Some do bear more fruit than others.

A Measure of Faith

In Romans 12, Paul says that everyone has a “measure of faith” (v. 3) which is then defined as spiritual gifts. In cooking, a measure is a specific and defined amount of an ingredient. This same concept can be applied to “faith”, not referring to salvation but to spiritual gifts. They are “alloted”, or given separately out of all the parts; there is a separation from one’s measure of faith to another’s.

Everyone's spiritual gifts are of a different measure—just like these measuring spoons. 

One’s “separation” of spiritual gifts can be understood both in kind (“gifts that differ”; v. 6, “not all members have the same function”; v. 4) and amount. God does not give everyone the same spiritual gifts — one measurement is different from another; gifts are exercised “accordingly” based upon what one has. A measure could also mean one person could have leadership or publicly exercised gifts that another person doesn’t.

According to His Ability

 But why would God give someone a “greater” gift than another?

“To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent — each according to his own ability.” – Matthew 25:15

 This verse from the Parable of the Talents illustrates an important point developed throughout Scripture, people’s abilities differ! Not everyone is made to be a pastor that touches the lives of many, a great evangelist, or even an outgoing small group leader.

But why?

There is a mystery to why God assigns us all different talents, circumstances and limitations. Asking why may be the wrong question. When the Apostles asked about Jesus’ special plans for John he told them,

“If it is my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” – John 21:22 

The master in the parable expected results from the servants based upon what he had given  them, not in comparison to what he gave the others (Matt 25:20-23). Our concern should not be for how God gifted other people but how he gifted you. You may not be destined for greatness but you are destined for faithfulness! 

Value in All Gifts for the Church

With all of this in mind, Paul tells believers not to consider themselves more highly than they ought (Rom. 12:3) — those bestowed with more public gifts are not to think of themselves as better than those with less public gifts (likewise, the opposite is true). Rather, each person should be concerned with how to exercise their ministry in accordance with their talents.

The primary purpose of spiritual gifts is for the church to be blessed. Peter writes that gifts are for serving others (1 Pet. 4:10) and Paul explains that leadership gifts are for building up Christ’s body (Eph. 4:12). Spiritual gifts are not about us as in me but us as in we. When we ask why others have more influential gifts, or we feel pride about our nature, we turn them into something that is about our own elevation and not for the church’s benefit.

While some gifts have more influence, the “spiritual gifts passages” in the New Testament are abundantly clear that no one is better than another because of their blessings from the spirit. Equality is not synonymous to equivalence; we are all the same in essence as Christ’s bought body but differ in substance (function). 

Even if some gifts do benefit more people, all gifts have a benefit to God’s kingdom—your gift is of necessity, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem!

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” – Matthew 25:23

TL; DR

  1.  Certain people are gifted in ways to have a greater influence in God's kingdom—it is okay to ask God for "greater gifts."
  2. Our concern should not be for how God gifted other people but for our faithfulness in what God has gifted us—you may not be destined for greatness but you are destined for faithfulness!
  3. God wisely gifts us according to what suits us; not everyone is suited to a public or high-impact leader but everyone can make a difference
  4. The purpose of spiritual gifts is not self-fulfilment but the betterment of the church—they're about us as in we not us as in me
  5. All spiritual gifts, regardless of their influence or visibility, are valuable in the church





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