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

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Talent

The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines the word “talent” as a special ability that allows someone to do something well. So, it could be any natural aptitude or skill. People at birth are born with certain genetics and natural abilities to excel in certain areas. As they grow up and discover their capabilities, they cultivate and improve them. And this sets them apart from other people and distinguishes them as being talented. Natural skills are given to both believers and non-believers.

God endows the body of Christ with special wisdom and knowledge both naturally and supernaturally to do His work (Matthew 13:12). For example, in building the temple, the Lord instructed Moses, See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works … that they may make all that I have commanded you” (Exodus 31:2-6).

The church needs among its members those who are Bezaleel’s as it does those who are Isaiah’s and Paul’s. But only those whom God calls to some specific ministry does he “call by name” (Exodus 3:4; Isaiah 45:1–4).

Spiritual gift

On the other hand, a spiritual gift is the direct working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer to fulfill God’s purposes in the common good of salvation. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-8).

Spiritual gifts are given only to believers. God’s children are called and equipped to be involved in the “work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). In God’s wisdom, the infant church received generous spiritual gifts. These supernatural manifestations affirmed the faith of the early members, who had not the historical evidence of the power of Christianity that believers have today.

Every believer receives special spiritual gifts (Romans 12:3, 6). These gifts are bestowed on believers first at conversion. And later on as they grow in their spiritual experience and walk with the Lord, they obtain more gifts (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). Each person is given sacred gifts according to the Lord’s will and not as man wills (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12).

The following texts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11) teach about God’s will regarding His sacred 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.

Also, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a world language that is not previously known to the believer), and interpretation of tongues. And Ephesians 4:10-12, speaks of God giving His church the sacred gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers.

Natural talent and spiritual gift

Both a spiritual gift and a talent should be used to glorify Jesus Christ and to minister to others. The parable of the talents, in Matthew 25:14-30, teaches that each individual has been endowed with abilities, time and material blessings. Everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him. And we are responsible for using these resources so that they may increase in value. Failing to use these talents deprives the soul of further blessings.

The basis of the final reward will be the believer’s stewardship of his God given resources. The one who neglects using his gifts will not reap the blessings. “‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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