Spirit-inspired speaking out of God’s immediate mind and counsel for the strengthening, exhortation and comfort of His people, and also, on occasion, to an unbeliever e.g. to warn or convict him of sin.
Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Corinthians give us insight to this gift as used in New Testament times (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10; 13:2). It is one of the gifts most commonly referred to in scripture, one not to be despised, but weighed and tested in the light of Scripture (1 Thess 5:20-21), and by those able to discern (1 Cor 14:29). It may speak about the present or the future.
It is important to distinguish between the gift of prophecy, which all believers are to ‘desire eagerly’ (1 Cor. 14:1) and the gift of the prophet to the church as a person (Eph 4:11).
Ability and heart to serve others and carry out practical tasks for them joyfully – seeing and doing what needs to be done.
Servanthood is at the heart of the Christian’s walk. In Phil 2:6-7 Paul exhorts us to be like Jesus who ‘made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant’. And in Gal 5:13 we are all called to serve one another. In Matt 20:25-28 and Lk 22:24-27 Jesus teaches his disciples the ‘upside down’ principle that greatness is demonstrated in servanthood.
Servanthood requires humility: ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all’ (Mark 9:35). This gift is often exercised in a quiet, hidden way, doing what needs to be done ‘behind the scenes’ to help others. Someone with this gift will often identify a need and get on with the task of meeting it without being asked, and before others have noticed.
Ability to instruct and to explain clearly to others the truths of the word of God in such a way that they ‘grasp’ their meaning, and are equipped and provoked to apply them to their lives.
This is another of the gifts referred to by Paul in Rom 12:7. Teaching is not merely the giving of information for head knowledge but it is to bring about changes in people’s lives. Someone who is well taught lives out what he or she has learnt; they do not just have a notebook full of good notes.
Teaching does not have to be in the form of a lecture; it may be in an informal or everyday setting, or one-to-one – ‘apprentice’ style. Jesus exemplified this as he taught the disciples ‘on the move’ e.g. about prayer and how to pray (Lk 11:1-11).