Gifted, Talented . . . and Christian: Giftedness and the Bible


Gifted Individuals within the Bible:

These people are singled out as probably being ‘GT’ according to the normally accepted criteria, because they show high intelligence, multipotentiality, high sensitivity and emotional intensity. To a certain extent, the reality of giftedness also furnishes an answer to some of the more skeptical about the existence and recorded achievements of both Moses and David. Some of the skeptics simply could not believe that one individual could have accomplished all that had been ascribed to them. But, if they were ‘GT’ according to the generally accepted meaning of the term, it would have been much more credible. And, since both Moses and David qualify as individuals who were ‘nation builders,’ for Israel, the people of God, it is easily understandable that God would have prepared them for that role even in the very makeup of their personalities.

  • Joseph

    Pharaoh noted that Joseph was fully of wisdom and discernment mor than anyone else (Genesis 41:39), and showed great ability, integrity and faithfulness throughout his life.

  • Moses

    Moses, as the adopted daughter of Pharaoh, was taught in all the knowledge of the Egyptians, and was powerful in speech and action (Acts 7:22). He was even a musician (Exodus 15:1). He shows a GT kind of drive and intensity early in his life when he goes out of his way to slay an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Israelite.

  • David

    David was perhaps the most multi-talented of them all. He was a king and lawgiver who completed the consolidation of Israel from a tribal confederation to a monarchical nation-state. He was also an accomplished musician who was known as Israel’s singer of songs (II Samuel 23:1). His bravery, musical talent, intelligence and way with words was noticed during his adolescence (I Samuel 17:18). Something of his emotional intensity and drive can be seen in his indignation at Goliath’s taunting of Israel, which led to him taking up the challenge to fight him.

  • Daniel

    Daniel was of a group of Jewish young men specially chosen to serve in the king of Babylon’s court because of their aptitude and ability to learn (Daniel 1:4). Throughout his life he showed tremendous integrity, honesty and faithfulness (Daniel 6:3).

  • Paul

    In his life before his conversion, Paul was a strict, devout and learned Pharisee, and he acknowledged his zeal and devotion were beyond those of any one of his age (Philippians 3:4, Galatians 1:14).

The Giftedness of Jesus

Within the orthodox boundaries of what the scriptures say about the nature of Jesus as fully God and fully man, it is possible to see a kind of giftedness in the human nature of Jesus, although I could not and would not say with certainty that he was ‘GT’ in the way that it is normally used. The descriptions of Jesus’s human growth in Luke 2:40, 48, do speak of him growing in knowledge and wisdom in the natural development of his human nature. Throughout his life, then, in the unclouded intelligence of his sinless human nature Jesus himself showed tremendous brilliance throughout his earthly life and ministry. Thus there is a sense that it can be said with reverence that he was, is and will always be the most gifted of us all.

Even more, though, the GT can find in Jesus someone who understands by personal experience every trial and temptation that he or she has gone through, and someone over whom he or she can find no intellectual superiority.

Gifted Individuals Throughout Church History:

These people likewise are singled out as probably being ‘GT’ according to the normally accepted criteria, because they show high intelligence, multipotentiality, high sensitivity and emotional intensity. They were also noted for their high moral sensitivity, intellectual depth and multiple capabilities even before their conversions. It should be noted that there are others who were much more ordinary throughout church history who were likewise used of God, such as Dwight L. Moody. Church history therefore does not demonstrate that human abilities are necessary for someone to be used of God, but the common factor for all such has been that they have been called by God and endued by God with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

  • Augustine

  • Thomas Aquinas

  • Martin Luther

  • John Calvin

  • John and Charles Wesley

  • Charles G. Finney

  • Clive Staples Lewis

General Observations

  • God uses people of high intelligence as much as anyone else — although he doesn’t need the intelligence of any human being. On the other hand, the possession of this potential may actually be part of his equipping through creation for a special mission in life, as it was with Moses and Daniel. The GT individual filled with the Spirit of God may then be marked with deep and broad insight and knowledge, integrity, faithfulness and humility.

  • Human intelligence may, on the other hand, cause sinful self reliance, such as Pharaoh’s counselors in Isaiah 19:11-15. True wisdom is not mere intelligence, but understanding what it means to live in God’s universe according to God’s rules. Thus a person who is GT may actually be a fool according to God’s definition of wisdom and folly.

  • Gifted people may undergo deep trials and affliction, and these may sometimes seem to be of their own making. Nevertheless, God is greater than any such circumstances, and weaves them into his plan for their lives. Ultimately, the gifted can say along with Joseph, that the problems from the malice of others serve to guide them into a true path of God’s ultimate will (Genesis 50:20) as a part of his plan.

  • No individual believer can bring forth any sort of lasting spiritual results, including the GT, simply because of his or her giftedness and natural talents. It is the connection with Jesus which matters: I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

  • ‘Giftedness’ is not a spiritual gift such as in Romans 12 or I Corinthians 12-14; rather, it is an endowment through creation. The godly reaction of the gifted to their nature needs to be that of David: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made," and this, like any other natural blessing, is like the gift of salvation in that "this is not from yourselves — it is the gift of God", "from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Thus, the professed believer who demeans the gifted person on account of his or her giftedness is also ultimately finding fault with God for the way that he has made the gifted person.

All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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