Thursday, 1 January 2015
But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31
Paul closes this chapter with a verse that looks back on what he has said and forward to what he will say. Chapter 12 has spoken of gifts of the Spirit, their distribution, their use, their interdependence on one another, and their state and position within the body. Here he shows that there is nothing wrong, and everything right, with earnestly desiring the best gifts. As we grow in Christ and mature in our theology, it is right to strive for better gifts in order to benefit the church as a whole.
However, there are points that should be considered as we strive for the greater gifts.
1) We were accepted by Christ and may have possessed a “lesser” gift when accepted by Him.
2) The gift we possessed and the gift(s) we strive for are still gifts. They are available to us from an external source. Even if we spend our time perfecting a gift (teaching for example), it is God who gave us the time and the desire to do so. In the end, the gift must be credited to God.
3) Our greater gift(s) still require the gifts and the presence of all the other members in the church. Paul explained this in detail in the preceding verses.
4) If we possess a greater gift, it may actually receive less honor from the body than one who possesses a lesser gift. Again, Paul explained this before.
For these and certainly a host of other reasons, it is inexcusable to argue over the gifts we have been given; to lord them over others for any reason; or to feel that what we have is not as valuable as what others possess. The body is a single unit of many members which should have one ultimate goal and aim.
Because of this, Paul will enter into chapter 13 with one of the greatest discourses on the subject of love ever penned. The entire chapter will be devoted to this subject and it will be based on the material he has presented in chapter 12 concerning gifts. To introduce this new thought, he simply states, “And yet I show you a more excellent way.” The “more excellent way” is love.
Life application: You have a gift, it is appropriate to your station in life and in Christ, and it can and does bring honor to the Lord as you use it to His glory.
Lord God, help me to remember the principle of love as I interact with my fellow believers. Let it not be a love which is merely a show for others to see, but change my heart so that it is a love which can be felt. Help me in this because You know my heart. You know the bitterness that arises in it at times. Take that away and soften my heart so that I am truly devoted to loving those around me. For sure, I know You will be pleased with this. And so I ask it to Your glory. Amen.