Who Says You Have to Choose between Growing in Love and Spiritual Gifts?

1 Corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (ESV)

law-158356_640The Apostle Paul tells us that it is not “either-or” but “both-and”. I have heard some people say that they will seek love and not spiritual gifts because love is better and higher and will endure through eternity. And I agree in part: Love is essential. It is priority one. In fact, we are warned a chapter earlier, that if you’re not going to love, please don’t do miracles.

But you CAN both love and prophesy. That is what the Apostle Paul is telling us here, along with the implication that the truly obedient and spiritual among us will seek both. And not just prophesy. In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul ranked apostleship higher than the gift of prophesy, then exhorted us to seek the greater gifts. So it is good to seek that spiritual gift, as well.

In this passage, by writing “earnestly desire”, he means that 1) he wants us to be hungry enough for it that we ask God to give it to us; and 2) he doesn’t want us to give up.

Yet we know that because it is a gift, and because God has to decide to give it, we don’t ultimately know what he will do. He might not give it to us ever, or He might not give it to us right away. Sometimes God waits to see if we truly desire something before he acts (and sometime he waits until we are in better shape to receive it and use it properly). It is not something we attain on our own, but we are more likely to attain it if we consistently petition God for it — but it is God’s to give.

In regard to pursuing love, we can certainly try to put love into practice. We should not overlook asking God to help us love better, since that is part of pursuing love, just as asking him for higher spiritual gifts is part of earnestly desiring them.

So let us not be a “love” Christian or a “gifts” Christian, but let us be the well-rounded followers of Jesus that we were meant to be.

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