Gifted to Give


Have you ever tried to play a musical instrument without having any experience or teaching? It doesn’t sound very good. Most people will stop trying to play quickly, not wishing to draw unwanted attention. Small children will often attempt to play instruments, but they don’t stop “performing” because they like the noise and the attention. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul told the Corinthians that God gives each Christian differing spiritual gifts for the benefit of other Christians, but some in Corinth were acting childishly, enjoying the noise and attention while forgetting that their spiritual gifts were not about them.

  • When have you used a talent or ability to draw attention to yourself without concern for how it might negatively affect those around you?


Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.


  1. If Paul had come to Corinth speaking in unintelligible tongues, what would have been the result?
  2. How is speaking in an unknown tongue like playing a musical instrument with an indistinct sound?
  3. Why was Paul concerned about the Corinthians speaking in tongues?
  4. In the middle of his criticism, how did Paul praise the Corinthians? How did Paul use this praise to motivate the Corinthians?
  5. If you are uncertain of your spiritual gifting, seek counsel from your spiritual leaders to discern your gifts. If you know your spiritual gifts, how are you using them to build up the church?


Some Christians in Corinth had “up front and out loud” spiritual gifts; in this case, tongues. But in exercising their gifts, they had lost sight of other Christians, making them feel like strangers or outsiders. They had forgotten that God had given them gifts for building up others in the faith. Today, as in Paul’s day, it is easy to forget that every spiritual gift is for another’s benefit. Exercising our spiritual gifts has both a positive benefit for ourselves and for others as we are each built up together. This is why Paul exhorts us to exercise our spiritual gifts and live out our faith in Christ so that others might grow in their faith still more.

  • Ask God to show you what your spiritual gifts are, and for wisdom to use those gifts to build up his church.