Spiritual gifts are not discovered just to satisfy our curiosity but rather to indicate what the Lord would have us do and to show where we fit into the church body. This, of course, brings great responsibility as we seek to fulfill that for which God has especially equipped us.1
It is significant that the three main chapters that list spiritual gifts all do so in the context of the church body. This shows that although an individual may be involved in a witnessing or evangelism event on a personal level, as with Philip and the Ethiopian treasurer (Acts 8), we each have the responsibility to exercise our gifts through the church.
As we have seen already, whatever the church does, it must do under the authority and direction of the Holy Spirit. It is our responsibility to seek the will of God and to work in harmony with what the Spirit reveals. We must not fall into the trap of making plans and then seeking divine approval. Often we ask, “What can our church do for God?” We would do better to discover what God is already doing among His people and get involved with that.
The disciples allowed the all-knowing Holy Spirit to direct their ministry. Sometimes they tried to enter a field of labor and were prevented by the Holy Spirit. Most probably Paul received a vision in which the Holy Spirit gave him specific instructions as to where the disciples were to work (see Acts 16:9-10).
Spiritual gifts must be used responsibly, and the best way to ensure this is for the receiver of a gift to maintain an open communication channel with the Spirit. We have a responsibility to maintain the unity of the church. If we are Spirit-led, there will be the desired unity. The Spirit directs individuals, and He directs the church. The direction He gives to one member, He gives to the whole church. The Spirit does not lead individuals away from the body.
When we have committed ourselves to the service of Christ, we can expect great things to happen as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us. The key is for us, as individuals and as a church, to be ready to receive that which the Spirit gives.