Yesterday our beloved minister announced that he had taken a bit of grief over his statement last week that he feels some Christians give too much weight to the issue of spiritual gifts and not enough to the fruits of the Spirit. As a participant (victim?) of a couple of spiritual gifts inventories and the professor of students who take these same checklists, I see our preacher's point. Some students are dismayed to think that they might not be spiritually gifted. Others quickly become puffed up and attempt to use their gift (forcibly, if necessary). They are much like a toddler in one of those battery-powered cars--he thinks he's driving, but he's not.
I've had people tell me that I should pay attention to them on certain matters because these topics fall under the purview of their spiritual gift. Sometimes I pay attention, but often, I don't. Why? Because spiritual gifts are only as good as the spiritual maturity of the person with the gift. Spiritual gifts, like any other gift, can indeed be misused. If the "gifted" Christian is relying on his perception of his "gift" and not studying what God says, more often than not, the gift will be misused. Without knowledge of what God thinks about good and evil, the "Discerner" might substitute his own judgment, informed by popular culture rather than scripture. Yes, one might have the gift of evangelism, but without a good grounding in the word, the "Evangelist" is just about as reliable as the used car salesman down the block.
So how do we know whose spiritual gift to trust? Look at the person's fruits! Is he joyful, good, loving, kind, peaceful, gentle, patient, faithful, and above all, self-controlled? If not, do not trust his gifts. The person who is truly controlled by God cannot help but show his maturity by his actions.