Lesson 34: Spiritual Gifts

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 281–88


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand and seek the gifts of the Spirit.

Introduction

In March 1961 a terrible storm swept through the Tongan Islands in the South Pacific. Buildings were blown over. Large trees were uprooted. Houses were torn apart and thrown through the air. A man was even killed.

In one village, members of a Latter-day Saint family huddled together in their small home, fearing for their lives. In describing this experience, the father of the family said that he could feel their home shaking as if it was ready to fall. He knew that if his family stayed in the house they would die, and if he went outside for help he would die. As he struggled with the decision of what to do, he felt prompted to use his priesthood to protect his family.

Climbing on a chair, he placed his hand on the part of the roof he thought would go off first. Then he said, “By the power of the priesthood which I hold, and in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to stand solidly and completely throughout this storm.” After he had said these words, the house quit shaking and the roof quit rattling.

After the storm, his home was the only one nearby that remained standing. (Adapted from Eric Shumway, “Faith in the Tongan Islands,” in Margie Calhoun Jensen, comp., Stories of Insight and Inspiration [1976], 71–73.)

  • Have the class members ponder this question: If an emergency occurred right now, would I be prepared to exercise my faith and priesthood?

If we are faithful and worthy, the Lord will give us spiritual blessings. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob described just such a condition among his people: “We search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea” (Jacob 4:6).

The Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit are special blessings of spiritual knowledge and power that the Lord gives to us. Many gifts of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10, and Doctrine and Covenants 46.

  • Invite a class member to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:13–26. What spiritual gifts are listed in this scripture? (List the answers on the chalkboard. Answers could include revelation, testimony, judgment, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, faith to heal, faith to be healed, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, speaking with tongues, and interpretation of tongues.)

While we can receive many of these spiritual gifts, no one enjoys all of them:

“For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

“To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11–12).

  • Have the class members ponder for a moment their own spiritual gifts.

Obtaining Spiritual Gifts

The Lord has many spiritual gifts that He desires to bestow on us. In order to receive them, we must discover these gifts, or talents, and then develop and use them. We must also live worthy to receive these gifts. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained why some members never receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: “It is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, and who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but who have never received that gift—that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, they go through life without that knowledge” (“‘Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts,’” Ensign, June 1972, 3).

The Lord has commanded us to seek the best gifts (see D&C 46:8). Often we are told which gifts we have or are to seek when we are set apart to an office or calling or when we receive a patriarchal blessing. A missionary called to a foreign country, for example, may be promised the gift of tongues to help him or her learn a new language, or a newly called teacher may be told to seek the gift of teaching.

To receive gifts of the Spirit, we must do the following:

Purify Our Lives

Before we can receive spiritual gifts, we must purify our lives by continually repenting of our sins.

Obey the Commandments

We must obey the Lord’s commandments to be worthy of spiritual gifts. Obedience is one of the most important requirements for receiving gifts of the Spirit.

Fast

Fasting can help us overcome pride and gain the humility necessary to receive spiritual gifts. It helps us put our spiritual needs before our physical needs.

Pray

  • Show visual 34-a, “We should ask the Lord for the gifts we desire to receive.”

The Lord has commanded us to ask Him for the gifts we desire to receive (see Matthew 7:7–11). Such prayers require faith—faith that we will receive the gifts and faith in the Giver of the gifts.

Elder James A. Cullimore gave us some questions to consider as we seek for spiritual gifts: “As members of the Church, is our faith sufficiently strong? Are we in tune with the Spirit that we might be blessed by these great gifts? Do we believe a miracle can be performed or a blessing given? Do we call upon the priesthood as often as we should to administer to the sick? Do we believe we can be healed? Do we have faith to heal? Is the priesthood always prepared to give a blessing? How strong is your faith?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 27).

  • Have the class members ponder for a moment what they must do to prepare themselves for spiritual gifts and to keep the gifts they already have.

As we receive our gifts, we must be careful not to boast about our experiences or speak to the world about them (see D&C 84:65–73). We may share our spiritual experiences with family members and close friends, but we should remember that our gifts are sacred and must be spoken of with care (see D&C 63:64).

The Purposes of Spiritual Gifts

The Lord has revealed that the best spiritual gifts are given to help those who love Him and keep His commandments and those who try to do so (see D&C 46:9). Through the proper use of these gifts, the sick are healed, devils are cast out, revelations are received, knowledge is gained, and missionaries are able to communicate in different languages. Through the gifts of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost can guide, comfort, encourage, and teach us. These gifts help us to walk uprightly before the Lord and prevent us from being deceived by false doctrines. As we live worthy to feel the promptings of the Spirit, we will know when to use our gifts and when not to use them (see Alma 14:10–11).

The Lord has commanded us to remember always that spiritual gifts are given to those who humbly ask in faith (see D&C 46:8–9). Paul compared the Church to a body to show the importance of each member’s gift or gifts to the rest of the Church (see 1 Corinthians 12:12–31). Just as a body needs arms, legs, eyes, and ears, so also does the Church need each member’s gifts. Therefore, each of us should exercise our gifts. As we do so, everyone can be blessed. (See D&C 46:11–12.) Heavenly Father emphasizes that these gifts should not be sought as signs or for selfish reasons (see D&C 46:9).

Elder Franklin D. Richards told of certain blessings that come from the Spirit in time of need:

“The Savior has promised that to worthy members the Holy Ghost would be a comforter in times of sickness and death.

“Many have borne witness of the comforting spirit that has attended them in times of sorrow, helping them to find peace and understanding.

“A few weeks ago it was my privilege to meet two wonderful women, close friends, who had lost their husbands in a tragic airplane accident. Did I find them in despair and deep mourning? No, indeed. I have never witnessed greater courage and strength. They both bore witness to the fact that they had truly felt the comfort of the Spirit, that they knew there was a purpose in the call that had been given to their husbands, and that they had an assurance that all would be well with them and their families as they lived close to the Church and kept the commandments of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 171; or Ensign, July 1973, 117).

On one occasion the Prophet Joseph Smith was invited to preach the gospel to a group of Native Americans. They could not understand English, and he could not speak their language, so he paid a special government agent to interpret his words. The Prophet spoke for a few minutes, and the agent then interpreted the Prophet’s message. When the people showed resentment and anger at the Prophet’s message, the Spirit revealed to him that the agent was telling lies in order to turn them against him. Joseph pushed the interpreter aside and then preached a sermon to them. They understood every word. (Adapted from E. Cecil McGavin, in The Historical Background of the Doctrine and Covenants [1949], 156.)

  • What spiritual gifts did the Prophet Joseph Smith use during this incident? (Discernment, revelation, gift of tongues, and teaching)

  • If time permits, allow a few class members to bear their testimonies about blessings they have received through spiritual gifts.

Conclusion

Doctrine and Covenants 46 reads:

“Seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

“For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.

“And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.

“For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

“To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (verses 8–12).

Challenge

Seek to discover your spiritual gifts. Continue to repent, obey the commandments, fast, and pray to purify your life and prepare yourself to receive spiritual gifts.

Fathers: Help your children recognize and develop their gifts.

Young men: Seek the counsel of your parents and leaders to help you develop spiritual gifts.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Review Gospel Principles chapter 22, “The Gifts of the Spirit.”

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.