“Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts.” What does that mean exactly? First, it means that the outcome of all things for us should be love. No, it doesn’t just magically happen and there will be people that thwart it. It won’t always feel good and we won’t always be successful. That is why we must pursue it. It’s an endless, consuming drive toward love. We must bring it. We must share it, we must become it. Paul rightly puts the pursuit of love first. Then, he adds, that we should desire spiritual gifts. But, he adds, not all gifts are created equal.
Like Paul says here, it is good to desire the gift of speaking in tongues. That gift, however, is not as good as prophecy. Why not? Because the gift of tongues is more about the individual than the group. Essentially, it becomes a selfish desire. On the other hand, Prophecy is “for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:3-4 (ESV)
Paul’s conversation gives us a great opportunity to examine our own gifts. To start, let’s consider how we are using them. More directly, list the ways that you are using your gifts to build up the church. Next, think for a moment about which gifts you desire to have. I get that this gets a little scary, but it should not be. It should be exciting! From these desires come growth. Not personally, but spiritually. These gifts, when properly deployed, build the church and extend God’s love. There is nothing more worthwhile.