“Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts”
D&C 46; Articles of Faith 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12-13; Moroni 10:8-18, Our Heritage 42-43, 47-48, 63
Think about planting a garden and the choices of seeds you would make for the plants in your garden. Would it be the same choice as all the others in the class? Obviously, the answer is “No”; but each garden, though it may be quite different, can be beautiful and useful. In the same way, even though each of us may have or cultivate different spiritual gifts, each of us can use those gifts for the benefit of the kingdom. It is our responsibility to nourish our individual gifts of the Spirit so that they become beautiful and useful.
Gifts of the Spirit are spiritual blessings or abilities that are given through the Holy Ghost. Having been taken from the earth during the Great Apostasy, they have now been restored for the purposes of blessing, edifying, and unifying the Saints as they are properly exercised. Such gifts have been part of the Church throughout this dispensation from the earliest times. Examples from stories in Our Heritage include:
§ Newell Knight had the faith to heal – See D&C 46:20
§ Philo Dibble and Amanda Smith had the faith to be healed – See D&C 46:19
§ Amanda Smith received revelation – Articles of Faith 1:7
§ The Prophet Joseph Smith had the gift of prophecy – D&C 46:22
§ Dan Jones received the gift to teach – Moroni 10:9-10.
Many spiritual gifts are identified by the Lord in D&C 46, including:
§ A testimony of the Savior and His Atonement (13)
§ Belief in others’ testimonies of the Savior (14)
§ Knowledge of “the differences of administration” – used in Church administration (15)
§ Discernment “to know the diversities of operation, whether they be of God” which helps us know the source of a teaching or an influence that comes upon us (16)
§ Wisdom and knowledge (17-18)
§ Faith to be healed (19)
§ Faith to heal (20)
§ The working of miracles (21)
§ Prophecy (22)
§ Discerning of spirits (23)
§ Speaking in tongues (24)
§ Interpretation of tongues (25)
These gifts are also identified in 1 Corinthians 12:4-12; 13:1-13; Moroni 10: 8-18.
Each member of the Church who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost has been given at least one of these gifts.
The purposes of the gifts of the Spirit are revealed in D&C 46. They include:
§ To strengthen and bless us individually – D&C 46:9. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that gifts of the Spirit “can lead us to God. They can shield us from the power of the adversary. They can compensate for our inadequacies and repair our imperfections” (Ensign, Sept. 1986, 72)
§ To help us serve others – D&C 46:11-12, 26. Elder Orson Pratt said, “Spiritual gifts are distributed among the members of the Church, according to their faithfulness, circumstances, natural abilities, duties, and callings; that the whole may be properly instructed, confirmed, perfected, and saved.” (Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, comp. N Lundwall , 571)
See Laura Russell Bunker, “The Art of Perspective”, Ensign, Dec. 1998, 54-55 for an example.
Determine which of the gifts in D&C 46:13-25 would be helpful in the following situations:
Ø A home teacher is called a the home of one of his families to give a blessing
Ø A missionary presides over a small branch of Church members
Ø A young woman is assigned to teach a lesson to her class
Ø An Aaronic priesthood adviser is responsible for a group of deacons on an overnight camping trip that encounters difficulty
Ø A Relief Society President assigns visiting teachers to the sisters in the ward
§ To help us avoid being deceived - D&C 46:8
We can discover the spiritual gift(s) that we have been given individually through pondering, prayer, fasting, reading our patriarchal blessing, obeying the commandments, and serving others.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that many gifts of the Spirit, such as wisdom or the gift to heal, are not evident until they are needed. He said that “it would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 246)
Ways in which we can seek the gifts of the Spirit include:
§ Ask of God and follow the Spirit’s guidance – D&C 46:7, 30
§ Seek gifts for the benefit of others, not for selfish reasons – D&C 46:9
§ Do all things in the name of Christ – D&C 46:31
§ Thank God for the gifts he has given us – D&C 46:32
§ Practice virtue and holiness continually – D&C 46:33
Pres. George Q. Cannon said: “If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to pray for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.” (Millennial Star, 23 April 1894, 260)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained how his mother applied the principle of seeking gifts of the Spirit: “Having lost her husband, my widowed mother was incomplete. How she prayed for what she needed to fulfill her responsibility to raise her three small children! She was seeking, she was worthy, and she was blessed! Her prayers were answered in many ways, including the receipt of spiritual gifts. She had many, but the ones that stand out in my memory are the gifts of faith, testimony, and wisdom. She was a mighty woman in Zion.” (Ensign, Sept. 1986, 72)
Additional spiritual gifts:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations.” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 371) In class, we may have time for you to suggest other spiritual gifts that might be received.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton said some “less-conspicuous gifts” include “the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; …the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable;…the gift of seeing that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.” (Ensign, Nov. 1987, 20)
Discerning true gifts of the Spirit is important because Satan can try to deceive people with his counterfeits of the genuine gifts. D&C 50 concerns false manifestations of spiritual gifts. We can know the gifts by the fruits they produce. Read D&C 50:17-24.
D&C 43:8 and 88:122. Teaching by the Spirit includes the concept and practical necessity that we instruct and edify each other.
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