Earnestly Desire Spiritual Gifts
They are abilities given to help others.
1 Cor 14:1
Paul, writing to a pretty eager bunch of Christians in Corinth, told them to desire spiritual gifts. The Greek word behind desire means a boiling over; to want intently, intensely and completely. In other words, look for this in your life with expectancy. There are those who believe that such gifts are over and done with at the close of the first century, but I don’t sense that from Paul’s tone. This is something we should do even today, because they are expressions of love.
What are these gifts? We’re given a list from v.8-11. I don’t believe this to be exhaustive either, considering these gifts are of God and he’s infinite. The point of the list is the manner in which the gifts are presented. They range from being as subtle as a word of wisdom or as category-shattering as miraculous healing.
A brief lesson from Role Playing Games
My favorite way of thinking about this are turn-based RPGs. I’ve played a lot of such games and each character one has specializes in some ability that helps team strategy overall — one attacks, one heals, another buffers an enemy, etc. Each ability serves the progress of the whole. So it is with spiritual gifts.
Our need to see God among us is just as strong now as it was for the first believers.
From Gifts to Gift-Giver
When the term spiritual gifts is used, it isn’t about magic or something like that. It’s used to draw our attention to the giver of such gifts: God the Spirit. A “member” of God (think of fingers belonging to a hand), the Spirit is God’s personal presence — always ready to spread the reality of God for Gospel-obedience, which harvests love unto God and people.
Every gift of every kind pours out from the infinite reservoir of God’s creativity. He doesn’t just hand out these gifts at random either; he sees to it they are reflected in certain people and that they manifest throughout the earth. Remember, the Spirit is present with believers, meaning each manifestation of God-gloryfing gifts is a manifestation of God himself. The argument here is: the gifts of God refer more to the gifts in God or by God.
I believe this is why Paul can say to Christians to desire the gifts — to do so is to desire that the gift-giver act through and among us, building more and deeper experiences in his peoples’ lives. To say, “Lord I ask that you reveal the gifts you’ve placed in me” is to say, “Lord, reveal yourself in power and experience that not only I, but others see your glory and depend on you more and more.”
Our absolute maturity in the Spirit hasn’t arrived yet, so we need not think these manifestations should have ended millennia ago. Oh, that we would cry out for the gifts of the Spirit in this day! We need him now, just as our family from the first century needed him then. For as we do seek and expect them, love will flow from Power on high and we’ll see the Spirit of Jesus ready to work, ready to reveal, ready to save.