NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- My husband once told me I have three spiritual gifts not listed in the Bible: sleeping, shopping and talking! Oh my, I do seem like a shallow Christian. How reassuring to discover biblical support for my gift of talking. First Peter 4:10–11 says: "Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone SPEAKS, it should be as one who SPEAKS God's words."
Talking IS a spiritual gift! You may have this gift too. A spiritual gift is a special ability given by God for Christian service. Paul the Apostle often taught about spiritual gifts to encourage believers to minister to others. There is one body of Christ but a diversity of gifts including prophecy, service, teaching and exhorting (Romans 12:6–8). The same God gives at least one of His various gifts to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:4–11). And, He personally gives them for the purpose of training up the saints, building up the body of Christ and growing up mature believers (Ephesians 4:11–16).
There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural talents. Talking is simply a talent if used for personal enjoyment or the entertainment of others. If the purpose of talking is ministry to others, it is a gift. With many spiritual gifts included in the Bible, the person exercising them must use words to effectively minister. A Christian must talk to prophesy, teach, lead or exhort. Words are necessary for witnessing, service and mercy. So, TALKING is not only a spiritual gift, it is the natural expression of many other gifts. Now I am feeling very spiritual!
The Bible teaches Christians to discover, develop and use their spiritual gifts. Through Bible study, prayer and wise counsel, gifts can be unwrapped. Through discipline and practice, they can be improved. And, with the power of the Holy Spirit, they can proclaim His glory. Romans 12:6–7 gives direction for using God's grace gifts. No matter the gift, it should be practiced with generosity, diligence and cheerfulness. According to "Rhonda's Christian Standard Bible," that means I must talk a lot, talk with passion and talk joyfully!
The Bible offers insights on talking as a spiritual gift:
1. Talking is a gift from GOD. God graciously gives life, salvation and spiritual gifts. Every person is created in the image of God with equal worth and value. Everyone is offered the gift of salvation, male and female, slave and free. And, every believer is given spiritual gifts. Who doesn't like to receive gifts? God gives them for our enjoyment as well as the benefit of others. No gift is of greater or lesser value (Ephesians 4:7–8). All are given by God for His purposes. The gift of talking is no more important than other spiritual gifts -- it just toots its horn more loudly!
2. Talking is a gift of LOVE. God gives salvation and spiritual gifts because of His love for His children. Spiritual gifts should be used because of love for God and concern for others. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which is often expressed through words (Galatians 5:22–23). Talking either expresses love to others or causes hurt and pain. Do you know people who never have a thought that doesn't come out of their mouths? A filter is needed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). So, think carefully before you speak so that you communicate love and concern.
3. Talking is a gift of GRACE. Salvation and spiritual gifts are given by God's grace with unmerited favor. We do not earn our gifts, we receive them. Words literally carry grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29–30). Ken Hemphill wrote in "You Are Gifted": "Spiritual gifts are an individual expression of grace enabling every believer to participate fully in the edification of the church and the advance of the Kingdom." Talkers can extend grace to others through words of encouragement, and listeners receive the gift of grace through affirmation by others.
4. Talking is a gift for GOD's GLORY. Whatever Christians do, whether eating, drinking (or talking), everything should be done to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). I love my dad's blessing before a meal: "Dear Lord, help me consume this for Your glory." When it comes to food, Dad glorifies God enthusiastically. Christians are to use their gifts to glorify God without grumbling or complaining, in everything (the good and the bad), and forever (on earth and for eternity). Words should exalt the Lord, not shine the spotlight on self.
God freely gives life, salvation and spiritual gifts. Christians should not be afraid to unwrap the gifts God has given them. Then, we are to share His gifts with others. Spiritual gifts, including the gift of talking, are to be used with generosity, diligence and cheerfulness. I take my spiritual gifts seriously! You should too. So, sleep in ... shop 'til you drop ... talk a blue streak. Use your spiritual gifts to lift up and encourage others!
Rhonda Harrington Kelley is the wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley. She also is the coauthor with Monica Rose Brennan of "Talking is a Gift: Communication Skills for Women" published by B&H Publishing Group. This article first appeared in SBC LIFE (www.SBCLIFE.net[/ULR]), the Executive Committee's journal.