Today’s Bible readings are Esther 8:1-10:3, 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13, Psalm 37:1-11, & Proverbs 21:23-24
1 Corinthians 12:29-31
29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.
But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
We, as people, often desire the things that we see as the most important to be part of our lives. We desire things like:
1. A nice house
2. A good job
3. A perfect spouse
4. Money in the bank
5. Influence with people
When it comes to spiritual gifts, we have some of the same mind sets. We tend to desire & covet the gifts that we see as being the most powerful, or most glorious. We all have our own ideas of the gifts that we think are the best. For some, it would be the gift of healing. For others, it would be working of miracles. I know for me, I have often sought after the power gifts; gift of healing, gift of faith, working of miracles.
God knows our tendencies to gravitate toward the gifts that we view as the most spectacular. He understands how we are as humans. We can get so focused on pursuing a certain spiritual gift that we fail to walk in the most excellent way of all.
I want to take a moment to clarify what I’m saying. First, it is not wrong, or sinful, for you to desire, & even pursue, spiritual gifts. We are told to pursue spiritual gifts.
31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.
But what happens to us is that we get so focused on operating in a certain gift that we fail to realize God has so much more to offer than just that particular gift. We can get what I call—tunnel vision. I have seen this happen in churches on a regular basis. For instance, many spirit-filled churches only recognize prophecy if it comes after someone operates in the gift of tongues. They wait in a service for someone to speak in tongues, so that, someone else can prophesy. This is the only way they think it can happen.
I have been in a church like this before. I have even prophesied in a church like this before. The people didn’t receive the word that came forth. It was as if they thought it was just me talking, or sharing a thought. In the same church, after the gift of tongues was in manifestation, I would give the interpretation; which is equal to prophesying; & everybody applaud & connect with God in reverence & holy fear. Why does this happen?
Well, really for 2 reasons—IGNORANCE & ABUSE. People have never been taught full & accurate teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The second reason is because certain things have been abused & misused. They have been over-emphasized while other gifts have been under-emphasized.
God is speaking to us in today’s passage about the danger in making these mistakes. In our pursuit for spiritual gifts we are exhorted to ALWAYS PURSUE FIRST THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY. What is the most excellent way?
1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 13
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Of all the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit makes available, the greatest is the love of God that He sheds abroad in our hearts when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives.
It is that love that we need more than anything else. It is that love that the world is supposed to recognize us by, not the power gifts, the utterance gifts, or the revelation gifts. Jesus said the world will know you are my disciples BY YOUR LOVE!!!
Love is the first thing to be neglected in our pursuit for spiritual gifts. Yet, love is the catalyst that makes them all work in effectiveness & power. Love holds them all together. Love keeps us from misusing them. Love compels us to extend them to others. Love makes them complete.
I, like Paul, encourage you to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. But never forget that the greatest gift is the gift of love. It is the one gift that ALL of us should aim to operate in at ALL times. To Christ be the glory for now & forever more!!!
Pastor Richard Schlotter