Can’t tell you. I have none. Okay that is not entirely true, but I do resemble Bones (from the TV show) just to give you a clue as to who I am. The gift of mercy involves knowing when to punish and when not to punish. I need a definition to follow, and mine is, when the person repents stop the punishment. Punishment is to bring the person to repentance so they will not repeat the act. When the purpose, repentance, has been accomplished, no more is needed. People with the gift of mercy do not need a definition. They instinctively know what a person needs in order to be right with Christ, and can show love and compassion as soon as it is needed. That does not mean they condone sin. It just means that they are the first to see when punishment should change to much love and are quick to give it.
Don’t worry if this is not you, just be aware and jump on board when you see someone you know who flows in this gift lavishing praise and comfort on someone you recently wanted to kill and know you need to change as well. Now there are people who want to love everyone all of the time. This is not mercy, this is indiscriminate affection. It is immature since it often enables people to believe that it is okay to sin and hurt others. These people are annoying because they get in the way of others who are truly trying to help the person overcome whatever it is that is affecting their lives. A person who flows with mercy does not do this. They do not enable people. They just know exactly when to show love, how to show it so the person best receives it and when it is inappropriate to do so. They are awesome people to be around, since they are very affirming. And they are good for you since they do not flatter and lie to make you feel better. This is why it is a spiritual gift. Many can flatter and lie, or give ‘love’ to everyone, but the Bible tells us that flattery is wicked, and that there are times to punish, reprimand and leave people alone in there sin. People with the gift of mercy know this, and can give ‘love’ without forgetting that these other things need to be there as well.
The gift of apostle is a much-debated gift. Not everyone agrees as to what this is. To me, after much study of scripture, it is a church planter. The term ‘apostle’ means one who is sent out, and it implies that he has a message from someone important like a king. In scripture we see apostles planting churches, and then moving on once the church is established (and not always well established) to plant another. Many of our missionaries may have this gift. I was blessed to speak with a couple that planted over 30 churches in Europe before they went to be with the Lord. This is who I see having this gift today.
These people are skilled at telling people things they do not want to hear in ways that help the person become motivated to change. These people should be counselors and often are. They should not however be put in charge of anything or given any administrative duties (unless somehow they flow in that gift too). Why? Because these are the people who can talk to a person who needs someone to listen and guide them until the problem is solved. They are unaware of time, and often do not care how much resources are used, as long as the person is getting better. Unfortunately someone some times needs to keep an eye on both time and resources. Also, since these people care only that the person is moving in the right direction they overlook the fact that the person is not there yet. They give people a lot of encouragement and truly believe they can do it. Unfortunately the people they help often fail. This is not a problem for the person with the gift of exhortation, as they will pick up with the person where they are and continue as long as the person is willing. But the person they are exhorting’s failures often affect the group, and exhorters do not always account for this. They could not be good at exhorting (encouraging, but with a practical edge) if they did not believe the person would succeed, but some times it is good to have a more unbiased eye looking at the overall picture. One who can be a little more honest about where the people they are encouraging actually are in life.
When dealing with our adopted children I was the exhorter in the family. When the children left the house and returned to some of their parent’s ways I was crushed. I believed, hoped, that they would not do these things. My other children were relatively unaffected. When I asked why they were not more upset they said, ‘We knew they would go.’ I couldn’t see the reality because I was the one pushing, talking and hoping. My children loved their siblings, but also knew what was currently true. An exhorter though has a tendency to hope, sometimes a little too much.
This is also not a gift my husband and I have. While we are part of a few salvation stories, we have met people who are a part of many, many other’s path to salvation.
My favorite is Pastor Bill. Now Pastor Bill is an extreme case. He could walk through a park, meet someone, lead them to the Lord, then be invited to their home to tell their spouse about the Lord (who also ‘got saved’). One day we were going somewhere with the karate club and Pastor Bill decided to tag along. We stopped for gas, and then waited, and waited for Pastor Bill to come out of the gas station. We waited so long that we had to ask why it took him so long to come out. He said that he stopped at the coffee area to get coffee when a man approached him and asked him about his hat. (Now we were all wearing the same hat, a baseball cap with the club logo on the front and Psalms 144:1 stitched across the back.) Pastor Bill explained and the man asked what he needed to do to be saved. So Pastor Bill led him through the sinner’s prayer right beside the coffee pot. (I would not be surprised if some who were listening accepted the Lord as well.) This is an example of an evangelist. Many preach the Word, but this person seems to be the one God uses to close the deal.
Another great story. There is a very famous Bible teacher who told this one. Because I will probably get some of the details wrong I won’t share her name, but the point of the story is the same. She had a friend who had the gift of evangelism who told her about her dishwasher repairman accepting the Lord when he came on a service call. Now this woman teacher was convicted, since in her ministry, which is to mature many who are already saved, she rarely sees people come to the Lord. Well lo and behold her refrigerator breaks and who does God send but a Muslim repair man. Throughout his visit the speak of the Lord, but their is no conversion. Years later her refrigerator breaks down again and the same man comes to fix it. He remembers her as a very nice woman, but he is still not saved…
Gifts are like that. Some function in the gift their whole life, others for a specific time, but we do not typically receive all of them. God likes us to work together as a body and He has a plan for everything. Just make sure you do your part!
Faith and Giving
My husband has these and man is it annoying! (Not what you thought I was going to say?) People who have faith have a supernatural ability to know when something is from God and believe that everything will work out. My husband also has a gift for giving. This does not mean that he gives all the time. People with the gift of giving are very careful about where their money goes, as they should be, because God often funnels many big ticket items through their hands. Combine this with the gift of faith and you will see why I say that it can be annoying. My husband loves to give, and has no doubt that the Lord will provide. So when I see our finances take a hit, or a big item given away without thought, it can be tough, but God provides and we have never missed a cent that we have given. Often God confirms in me that we are to give, but without the supernatural gifts I am not as comfortable, nor as excited as my husband is when we do such things. I am slower to get to where we need to be.
Now here is a true story about our giving.
We once lived in a small town where the majority of the people were not as wealthy as we were. (My husband is an emergency room doctor and we lived in the middle of farm country.) We went to a small church. The church needed a sound system, and since we were both involved in the music ministry (my husband can sing) we thought we would just give all of the money. But we decided to pray first. We prayed separately. God told each of us to give- nothing. So we prayed some more. God said we could give one dollar for each of us if we really must do something. So we did. And then on Monday morning my husband went to the pastor intending to give whatever more was needed. (I did not say we were perfectly obedient!) What we found was that even though the pastor had hoped for only the down payment for what the church needed, he had received enough money, and some extra, to do the entire job. As much as God uses us to give, He does not need our money, and He has the right to tell us when to give, and when it is not for us to do so. This does not mean that a project is bad, merely that it is other people’s turn to be used. This also made it easier for us to move on when we were to leave this church. As far as I know, no church we have been to, no matter how small, has missed our tithe after we left. God always provided.
Service and Helps
Helps and Service seem similar, but they are not. A person with the gift of service serves for a long period of time. They are steadfast, reliable and willing to do everything. These are your long-term church secretaries, your regular soup kitchen volunteers and people who can say that they have taught Sunday school for thirty years.
A person with the gift of helps on the other hand is a short timer. They are the ones who love mission trips, work weekends, disaster relief etc. They burn out if you make this a steady job, but when you really need them, they are the best help you could ever ask for. And we need them. Typically life goes the way life goes, but when tough times come, these people get moving and are the ones who work until the job is done. Then they rest. They are not steady like those with the gift of service. When they are done, they are done, but they are there when you need them!
Now the problem with these giftings is that if you never use them they get antsy. They want to be doing something, so sometimes they cause the problems so they can help ‘fix’ things. So don’t be afraid to put them to use when there are things to be done! Lots of energy and little to do is a poor combination.
Neither I, nor my husband have this one! Some would argue that we do make people feel comfortable in our home, and we try, but this gift is more than just being nice and offering people drinks etc. (Which I often forget to do, so if you are in my house and are thirsty please ask!) This gift is where the people thrive on having others over. They beautify their house and make food specifically for this purpose and they are not afraid of having people mess things up. This is the difference. Many people beautify their homes and/or cook because they like to. The person who is gifted in hospitality not only likes to, but wants to see people use what they have as well. If no one comes over, or they cannot cook for someone for a long period of time they go a little nuts.
A few of my friends have had this gift. One had eight children yet had time to leave baked goods for us on the front seat of my husband’s car every now and then because she had made too much for all of them. (Think about that for a second. We had seven kids, she had eight and she had the time, and wanted to feed us too.) Another friend hosted everyone who came to the church. See also hosted Bible studies. She made all the food- awesome food, and knew when the single men of the church would be driving by her house so she could call them at work and send them on errands to shop for what she needed. (One husband was not enough for her industrious side. She was an older woman and the men loved helping in this way.) This is hospitality. The most upset I have ever seen her is when she was hosting a Christian group and the leader decided they did not have time to stay for breakfast. And as her husband said, ‘You know what my wife’s breakfasts look like.’ She had indeed spent much time on the meal, but it was not lost time that hurt her, but the inability to serve.
My husband once asked me why I enjoyed Quilting Quirks so much. I am not someone you could see naturally loving to quilt, and it shows when I quilt, but I do love going. What I told him is, I am the only ‘leader’ (okay administrator but we often lump the two together) in a room full of people with the gift of hospitality, it is the most relaxing weekend I will ever spend away from the family! People with this gift rock!