Sunday, January 8, 2012
SHOULD WE SEEK THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS?
LIVING THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY
What is the most excellent Way? And should you and I be seeking the gifts of the Spirit without first learning to walk in it?
Remember that Paul addressed the most detail on this subject to his most troubled church body--the Corinthians. I Corinthians 12 and 13 address the issue of the most important spiritual gifts, and what is most important of all.
It was precisely because this undisciplined, motley crew of believers was struggling with pride, selfishness (even when observing the Lord's Table together), divisions (over who was following which teacher/leader), lawsuits among believers, terrible sexual sin, and a lot of other immature behavior, that they had trouble discerning and appropriating the gifts from the Spirit in the proper ways. It was their spiritual immaturity which limited their understanding.
So, what did Paul say? He clarified that there are many gifts, and that it was the Holy Spirit that gave those gifts to people in the Body of Christ for the purpose of building up others in their faith. It was not man's decision, it was not man's work. It was the work of God.
He did indicate that if someone desired spiritual gifts, that he should seek the highest gifts--the highest one being Prophecy--which means giving out the Word of God to others. He even put tongues in perspective, stating that tongues is for private prayer unless someone with the gift of interpretation is available to edify the Body.
BUT WHAT WAS PAUL'S GREAT REMINDER ABOUT GIFTS?
"But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you
THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY."
1 Cor. 12:31
The most excellent way, brothers, is LOVE. It is the greatest FRUIT of the Spirit, which is often ignored completely. LOVE should be pursued before and during our pursuit of any other gifts from God.
It is the highest and best, the Way of Christ, and "covers a multitude of sins".
The Corinthians, like many of us, had not yet learned how to fly, and were wanting a Lear Jet. They were always concerned about getting the best spiritual gifts. God's best is that we learn how to walk in love as Jesus did, and then He'll bestow on us spiritual gifts we can handle.
Lear Jets are for the best pilots, not novices who are undisciplined and haven't paid the price. The best commercial pilots come out of being combat pilots. Same for us in the Body. The highest gifts are reserved for those who've trained to discern good from evil by constant use--who've been through the fires and the waters and learned to rely on God and His Spirit to get them through.
We must learn to "follow the way of love" while we "eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy." (1 Cor. 14:1)
I was raised in a church that emphasized the highly visible gifts of tongues and preaching and teaching, but without the greatest gift of love it was a "resounding gong...a clanging cymbal" and I was left with the conclusion that it was gaining nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
In fact, as it is today in many churches, it was very discouraging to see Christians involved in promoting themselves and their own “spirituality” or their own “giftedness”. In fact, many Christians confuse talent with gift, and so we have the ungifted, immature believer with talent being pushed into leadership. This means, like the Corinthians, we are seeking the wrong things, and need to grow up in Christ.
I pray that we would discern our spiritual condition in the churches. That each of us would call for the gift of love to be lived out, and that all other gifting would be prayerfully left to the Holy Spirit's direction as we draw closer to Jesus Christ.
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