On a recent episode of “Ask Pastor John,” theologian John Piper responds to a listener who frets that she doesn’t “seem to have any spiritual gifts.” The woman, who has been a Christian for about 12 years, admits, “I really feel like a talent-less and sinful mess! Does this mean that the Spirit does not actually dwell in me? How can I discover my purpose in him and fulfill 1 Peter 4:10?” That passage reads: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (ESV).
Before diving into his answer, Piper, author of “Desiring God,” clarifies that “there is a fundamental difference between talents and sins.” Being talent-less isn’t “a spiritually serious problem,” he note, while sinfulness is “a huge problem.”
Spiritual Gifts: John Piper on What the Bible Says
Next, the theologian says he knows the listener “does have spiritual gifts” because she’s a Christian. According to New Testament letters from Peter and Paul, “each” believer (not “some”) has a gift, or manifestation, from the Spirit (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:7). Another passage emphasizes that “every Christian is part of the body of Christ,” says Piper, referencing Romans 12:4-5. “And every member of a body has a function.”
From those verses, Piper concludes that “to be a member of the body of Christ is to have a role in the body that is essential to the body—not flashy, not prominent, but essential.” He adds, “In fact, Paul is at pains to make sure that no Christian, no matter how insignificant they feel, feels excluded from the body.”
‘Make It Your Aim To Love People for Christ’s Sake’
Piper urges the listener not to despair about her role in the church and not to compare her gifts to those of other members. He points to Paul’s reminder in 1 Corinthians 12:22-23 that “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor.”
In other words, says Piper, “the gift that some people have in the body of Christ is to be weak and needy so that others may have opportunity to show them special care.” Although that not might be the case for her, it’s a way to reorient one’s thinking so as to not “feel so inadequate,” he says.