1 Corinthians 12:30-31 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
These are very interesting verses. Paul has just spent the whole chapter discussing spiritual gifts and the importance of the right attitude to them in the life of, and for the health of, the church. The interesting thing for me is that the Greek translated as the command ‘eagerly desire’ can be equally accurately translated as ‘you are eagerly desiring’! For what it’s worth, it seems to me much more reasonable to opt for the latter translation!
Given the very unhealthy spiritual climate in the Corinthian church at the time, it is much more likely that, having outlined the value and potential dangers of spiritual gifts, the Apostle would warn them: “You are [all] eagerly desiring the ‘greater’ gifts. But NOW I will show you THE MOST EXCELLENT way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am nothing …”, then going on to give probably the most profound ‘definition’ of the characteristics of ‘love’ (agape) in all literature (Chapter 13).
Are we competing for a better score in the ‘spirituality’ stakes in the display of our particular (God-GIVEN) gifts? Paul says, “Forget it. It’s not about ‘gifts’, it’s about ‘LOVE’ – ie about being patient, kind; about not envying, not boasting, not being proud or rude or self-seeking, not flying off the handle too quickly, not keeping a record of wrongs (holding grudges), not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth. It’s about ALWAYS protecting, ALWAYS trusting, ALWAYS hoping, ALWAYS persevering, NEVER failing in any of these things!
What a challenge this is while we grapple with innate aspects of our fallen nature and support and encourage one another in the walk of faith.