I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:1-8

There are quite a few spiritual gifts mentioned in the Scriptures but that is not the limit of the Spirit’s expression of God in the life of his church. We are also told in 1 Corinthians 12:6 that there are a variety of operations of each gift. That means that each gift can be manifest in various ways. As I mentioned in an earlier article, Motivational Gifts are sometimes referred to as “personality” gifts because they are a person’s prime motivator in life. It is what drives a person to do things the way they do them.1

Prophecy is one of the gifts that draws lots of fire and ire. Why? In my opinion, it is due to both a lack of understanding and lots of misuse and abuse of this gift.

The controversies around this gift are too numerous and too involved for me to deal with them in a simple post like this. So, to my point, the Motivational Gift of prophecy is probably better described by another term. I prefer the term “insight.” Prophets can always “see” things that many others miss. This is an operation of the spectrum of the prophetic gift that shows the “variety of operations” Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 12:6. The Motivational Gift of prophecy does not refer to speaking prophecies, but having insight. The ability to see things the way they really are. Prophets were formerly called “seers” (1 Samuel 9:9). The heart of the Motivational Gift of prophecy is the ability to “see.” Prophets have a more direct intuitive sense about where people and things “really are,” they can discern the inner motives of people in a way others do not. The basic tendency of this gift is to view any person, group, or situation in light of their life before God and moral standards.

I mentioned in an earlier article that this gift of insight or prophecy is one of the speaking gifts along with exhortation and teaching.

Three general benefits of this gift are given in 1 Corinthians 14:3

  • Oikodome: meaning repairing, improving or upbuilding
  • Paraklesis: meaning helping, strengthening
  • Paramuthia: meaning encouragement, comforting

Five specific results of this gift are noted in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25

  • Brings people to accountability
  • Reveals inner heart motivations
  • Brings inner conviction
  • Brings awareness of God’s presence
  • Makes people fall on their knees (outward repentance and true humility)

John the Baptist is a Biblical illustration of this gift. (Luke 3:3-20)

  • John dressed in camel’s hair depicting the rather “rough” ministry he had to perform (Matthew 3:4). Frankness may be viewed by some as harshness. Functioning in this gift requires moral courage and often appears negative or unloving by some.
  • John was acutely aware of his personal unworthiness (Luke 3:16) People with the insight gift seem to know this and openly admit it. They may even want others to point out their blind spots and tend to be hard on themselves. They will often openly confess their sins and weaknesses.
  • John knew he was only a voice for God and depended on Scriptural truth to validate his authority (Luke 3:4-6). While insight people tend to operate intuitively, they look to Scripture to validate their insights.
  • He had a directness and frankness in speaking (Luke 3:7-14). Insight people are not always the most tactful.
  • He looked for repentance (Luke 4:8). An insight person will usually appeal to the conscience rather than the intellect as a teacher would.
  • He placed great emphasis on right and wrong and had the capacity to identify evil (Luke 3:10-14).
  • He had the courage to openly reprove evil (Luke 3:19). It requires an active faith to walk in this gift.
  • He was able to discern peoples’ motives (Luke 3:7).

These gift characteristics are not an excuse for not developing the fruit of the Spirit. The application of the cross allows the gift to be used unpolluted by the flesh.

It should be clear that an insight person will have to be courageous to function in their gift. The exhortation that comes with this gift is to function “in proportion to our faith” (Romans 12:6). About this faith, A.T. Robertson says, “The context calls for the subjective meaning of faith rather than the objective faith as a standard.” In other words, faith as an inner dynamic. Meyer’s commentary on Romans says it is “according to the strength, the clearness, the fervor, and other qualities of faith bestowed upon the individual prophet.”

Understand that the Motivational Gifts are not Sunday Morning gifts, but everyday gifts. Our father Abraham was told, “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) This is really a principle of life that we receive from God for the purpose of sharing it with others. ” Unless we are giving, we become sick, spiritually at least.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

These Motivational Gifts are to be used:

  • as you have opportunity
  • Do good to all men (all of your neighbors, etc.)
  • The priority is to the household of faith, your fellow Christians

Related Posts:

  1. Much of this material on Motivational Gifts, comes from an unpublished syllabus created by one of my early professors, Dr. Donald Pickerill.