On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . seven swans a-swimming.
It would take someone quite familiar with the Bible to identify this gift. Hidden in the code are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and compassion as listed in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. As swans are one of the most beautiful and graceful creatures on earth, they would seem to be a perfect symbol for the spiritual gifts.
As these various gifts are listed in both Romans and 1 Corinthians, they are preceded by these words “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”. That is an important reminder, because it is much too easy to look at the gifts God has given others and wonder why we haven’t received this gift or that gift. God has given you the gifts you have because he knows those are what you need and he will put you in situations where you can use those gifts for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Let’s do a brief overview of each of these 7 gifts:
Prophecy is not necessarily telling the future. It means making God’s will known whether it is something which has happened already or something which will happen in the future.
Serving is helping others out in whatever situation they may be in. It may be feeding the hungry, visiting the sick etc. Sometimes serving means recognizing that you don’t have the gifts to serve and there might be someone else better equipped.
Teaching is instructing people in the truths of the Bible. This might mean teaching children in Sunday School, teaching adults in Bible Class or a Starting Point class or in some other way helping people understand what the Bible says.
Encouraging is helping build up with the Word of God people who are facing difficult or trying situations in life.
Giving is sharing with others the gifts which you have been given. This is to help others, not yourself.
Leadership is not just leading in the church, but in any situation in life and doing it humbly and for the good of others, not for their own glory or gain.
Compassion is showing mercy or pity to people who are down and out. This is more than just sharing God’s Word, this is acting to help them.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to clearly see the spiritual gifts which you have given to me and to use them in the best way possible to serve others and give glory to you. Amen.