But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31 NIV84)
In our recent devotions we have been addressing the fact that we (Christians) have spiritual gifts that we are called to use in service to the kingdom of God. Paul has let us know that there are many gifts provided by the Holy Spirit, but all are to be used as directed by the Head of the body, Jesus. In our verse for today, Paul tells us to desire the greater gifts. First, it is important to mention that Paul believes we should be desiring spiritual gifts. Too many Christians, I think, are failing to prayerfully seek and desire spiritual gifts. It is also all right to seek and desire more than one. So, if you are a Christian uncertain of your spiritual gift, start seeking and praying.
Paul also tells us to desire the greater gifts. Now the question is, what gifts are they? Paul, here and in other places, tells us that the greater gifts are those that advance the outreach of the kingdom of God. Paul himself tells us that he had the gifts of tongues and prophecy (preaching), but would rather preach one intelligible word than speak a thousand in a tongue no one understands. Paul’s emphasis was always on the gifts that reached out into the world and saved souls. I think at the top of his list would be preaching, teaching, evangelism, and any other gift that works out into the world. He is not saying that the inside gifts are unimportant, but less important. They will never save a soul. Paul encourages us to aspire to the internal gifts, too– just don’t forget the outward gifts.
Lastly, Paul tells us that he is going to show us the most excellent way (LOVE). No gift is of any value if it isn’t rooted in love. I will be doing several devotions on 1 Cor. 13 (the love chapter).