Spiritual gifts are not earned. They are given on the basis of grace rather than something which we do.
A spiritual gift is a supernaturally designed ability granted to every believer by which the Holy Spirit ministers to the body of Christ. A spiritual gift cannot be earned, pursued or worked up. It is merely “received” through the grace of God. – John MacArthur
If the Holy Spirit is a gift then there is no way we can earn the right to receive him or his gifts. Many Christians are held back from receiving spiritual gifts because of their own sense of unworthiness.
They feel the need to achieve a certain level of holiness before they will ask God for the gifts of his Spirit. But Acts makes it clear that the Spirit was given to young converts as we seen a few days ago. Their holiness came simply from their repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
It is of course true that we are not worthy to receive the Spirit or his gifts, and that we never will be, but neither are we worthy to enter into heaven. Our certainty of eternal life depends not on our own righteousness but on Christ’s atoning work on the cross. In our response to what Jesus did for us at Calvary, God has declared us righteous. He looks on us as if we never sinned at all.
It is God who, by his grace made us fit for heaven, and because of this grace and forgiveness we may receive (not earn or merit) the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God’s gifts are not given capriciously; neither are they given in such a way that the option for their use is left with us. As the gifts are discovered they are to be developed and used to the full in His service and to His glory. God distributes His gifts for His purposes and for the good of His people. His sovereign administration of these gifts must be acknowledged as right and proper by His people, even when they cannot see the good. – Jay E. Adams (Christian Living in the Home, P&R Publishing)
The spiritual gifts are not a result of education; they are not learned, they are a supernatural ability. They are not a result of much prayer or fasting; however we are told in scripture “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.” 1 Corinthians 12:31
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 14:1
The Greek for “earnestly desire” is zeloo (2206) and could be translated as zealously / jealously lust after! James makes it clear that a passive stance will not bring results regarding spiritual things.
“You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2
The spiritual gifts are not earned, they are freely given by God, to those who are serious about asking for them.
1 Corinthians 12:11 (NKJV) “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”