What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?

Question: "What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?"

There are similarities and differences between talents and spiritual gifts. Both are gifts from God. Both grow in effectiveness with use. Both are intended to be used on behalf of others, not for selfish purposes. 1 Corinthians 12:7 states that spiritual gifts are given to benefit others...not one's self. As the two great commandments deal with loving God and others, it follows that one should use his talents for that purpose. But talents and spiritual gifts differ in whom they are given to and when. A person (regardless of his belief in God or in Christ) is given a natural talent as a result of a combination of genetics (some have natural ability in music, art, or mathematics) and surroundings (growing up in a musical family will aid one in developing a talent for music), or because God desired to endow certain individuals with certain talents (for example, Bazeleel in Exodus 31:1-6). Spiritual gifts are given to believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3, 6) at the time of their placing their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. At that time the Holy Spirit gives to the new believer the spiritual gift(s) He desires the believer to have (1 Corinthians 12:11). There are three main lists of spiritual gifts...

Romans 12:3-8 lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others (in a general sense), teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as: the word of wisdom (ability to communicate spiritual wisdom), the word of knowledge (ability to communicate practical truth), faith (unusual reliance upon God), the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a language that one has not studied), and interpretation of tongues. The third list is found in Ephesians 4:10-12, which speaks of God giving to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. There is also a question as to how many spiritual gifts there are, as no two lists are the same. It is also possible that the Biblical lists are not exhaustive, that there are additional spiritual gifts beyond the ones the Bible mentions.

While often one may develop his talents and later direct his profession or hobby along those lines, spiritual gifts were given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of Christ's church. In that, all Christians are to play an active part in the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. All are called and equipped to be involved in the "work of the ministry" (Ephesians 4:12). All are gifted so that they can contribute to the cause of Christ out of gratitude for all He has done for them. In doing so, they also find fulfillment in life through their labor for Christ. It is the job of the church leaders to help build up the saints so they can be further equipped for the ministry that God has called them to. The intended result of spiritual gifts is that the church as a whole can grow, being strengthened by the combined supply of each and every member of Christ's body.

To summarize the differences between spiritual gifts and talents: (1) A talent is the result of genetics and/or training, while a spiritual gift is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit. (2) A talent can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, while spiritual gifts are only possessed by Christians. (3) While both talents and spiritual gifts should be used for Godís glory and to minister to others, spiritual gifts are focused on these tasks, while talents can be used entirely for non-spiritual purposes.

Related Topics:

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today?

When / How do we receive the Holy Spirit?

How do I know what my spiritual gift is?

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?

Who is the Holy Spirit?

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What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?