Theology 101

What Does the Bible Say About Spiritual Gifts for Work?

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Do the gifts of the Holy Spirit matter for our everyday work? In the Old Testament, there are many gifts the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people that are applicable to our life and work today.

Establishing Leadership

The Holy Spirit empowered various people in different ways to establish and protect the kingdom of Israel. For instance:

  • In Judges, various leaders such as Othniel were given power. In Judges 3:10 it says “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” enabling him to lead Israel into war with the king of Mesopotamia.
  • Judges 6:34 says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon the leader Gideon. The words “came upon” literally mean “clothed.” The Spirit put himself on Gideon as a cloak and enabled him to lead his three hundred mighty men into battle against a vast number of Midianites.
  • Similarly, in Judges 11:29-33, “the Spirit of the Lord fell on Jephthah,” and he was able to win the battle against the sons of Ammon.

Empowering and Cultivating Existing Gifts

The Lord also took people who were already gifted by his Spirit and caused their gifts to reach their potential.

  • When the Spirit of the Lord fell on Samson, he became extraordinarily strong. Though he was already strong, the work of the Spirit made him nearly invincible. In Judges 14:6, a lion attacked him. The passage describes how “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him,” and he was easily able to tear that young lion apart.
  • Later, in Judges 15:14, it says, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon” Samson so that he was able to break his bonds, pick up the jawbone of a donkey, and kill a thousand Philistines.

The Lord can build strengths and abilities. The Spirit of the Lord gave gifts of leadership, courage, and strength to his judges, enabling them to defend Israel against its enemies.

I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones, for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.

So the Spirit could increase the gift of a man who was already a gifted artist. God not only provided a detailed blueprint for the tabernacle, its utensils, and furnishings, but also empowered people to excellently carry out his design. In Exodus 31:6 it says of other men, Oholiab and Ahishamach,

and in the hearts of all those who are skillful (wise), I have put skill (wisdom) that they may make all that I commanded you.

It’s important to keep in mind that all our gifts are affected by the fall. They can be withered, misdirected, or dormant. That’s why it’s important to pray that the Spirit would take our created gifts and reveal them, direct them to his glory, and cause them to reach their potential. This is what the Spirit did for Bezalel, Oholiab, and Ahishamach, and he can do this for us, too. The Spirit can do this not only with artistic gifts but also with gifts in education and other areas.

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Pray that the Holy Spirit would not only reveal them but guide you in cultivating them to reach their full potential. We are not to bury our gifts, like the fearful and sinful servant in the parable of the talents. We are to invest them for a specific purpose: to glorify God, serve the common good, and further his kingdom.

Editor’s note: Learn more about spiritual gifts for work in Art Lindsley’s full paper on the topic: Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament. Read more about the application of your gifts in the workplace in How Then Should We Work?

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