Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.”1 Corinthians 14:1
Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts. Love is the key to any kind of ministry one may have as a Christian. Love is the unselfish act of giving of oneself. If love does not reign in your heart, then there is nothing but following selfish pursuits. Instead of love there is coveting, a wanting and strong desire to have something, and usually it is what someone else has. Love in essence is sharing with one another.
Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”Romans 13:8
No matter what subject we may deal with concerning life in the Bible, the theme of love pops up among the issues of the heart of man. We try to teach our children the meaning of love and sometimes we fail as parents. We must believe in the love of God that He sent us His only son. We must have that love living in our heart by the spirit of God. The living breath of the Holy Spirit residing in our heart to remind us about love. We must know the fondness, warmth, and tenderness of our Lord’s love to sacrifice himself for all mankind. This is so we can be reconciled to God and to each other. This is God’s ministry, and it is always done through love. It is no wonder that the apostle Paul is reminding the church at Corinth that love never fails and is the key to whatever we do in life in general. Our actions will reveal at times that we are sometimes not walking in love. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 through 14 the apostle Paul is speaking about the spiritual gifts and how those gifts are to be used through love.
Pure love within itself is a ministry of God within the body of Christ. I can remember attending a church where the people were zealous for the spiritual gifts. It was like being in a nursery where children were grabbing toys and showing off what they had. It is this attitude that the apostle Paul was dealing with at the church in Corinth. We do not lord our gifts over each other since this brings jealousy and discord in the body. The baptism of the Spirit is meant to bring the body of Christ together and God through the Holy Spirit gave man gifts to benefit the body. That is why Paul states, “for by one Spirit where we all baptized into one body,” whether we are jews or Greeks [1 Corinthians 12:13]. We must also remember that the gifts work through the same Spirit and it is the Spirit of God that gives the gifts as he will. Not as man wills. It is the Holy Spirit that bestows the gifts for service unto men.
In other word the gifts are not to be used for selfish reasons. For God hath set the members, everyone in the body, as it hath pleased him [ 1 Corinthians 12:18]. There are many members in the body of Christ so that the ministry of Love continues to edify all people within the body of Christ. If the gifts are given as it pleases God, no man can boast that it is exclusively his gift alone. We must remember that it is through God’s grace that we are given gifts for the service of those who need the knowledge of the Lord. Paul tells us we ought not to think ourselves more highly than another [see Romans 12:3]
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;”Romans 12:6
It is by separate parts in relation to the body of Christ that through faith the gifts are ministered to each member within the body of Christ. So, what are the spiritual gifts within the body? Paul tells us about the diversities of operations of the gifts and how God works in all through the manifestation of the Spirit that is given to every man to profit. This is to profit the body of Christ within a congregation. The listing is given in chapter 12 of 1st Corinthians in verses 8 to 10.
For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, various kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues.1 Corinthians 12:8-10
The apostle Paul tells us no matter what gift is bestowed among us; it means nothing without love residing within our hearts. That is why He exclaims that we should follow after love. It is all right that we desire spiritual gifts, but Paul desires that we would all prophesy. Why is prophesy a better gift? Paul gives us the answer why, in verse 2 and 3 of 1st Corinthians chapter 14.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tonque speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; however, in the spirit he speaketh mysteries, But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
Notice the 3 key words that Paul states, edification, exhortation, and comfort. Revelation, teaching in instruction, and to bring comfort for those who are suffering that is the ministry in love. We should pray for the gifts of the spirit for edification of the body. Look at verse 12 of 1st Corinthians chapter 14, “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” Pray for understanding, for understanding is fruitful to the body, including yourself. We can all prophesy and sing in the spirit but pray for interpretation so everyone can benefit from what the message is that God wants us to hear. If it is done in love everyone will benefit from the message. There is no reason why the church cannot function in unity where gifts are concern.
Let us remember that in the early church there was liberty for the ministry of the gifts to function and more so for prophesy. All prophesies are to be judged and to be compared to the word of God. I have always known this to be true within the body of Christ. Prophesies given within the body was always a part of scripture or for someone who needed healing within the body. There is an anointing presence of the Spirit among the people when God’s spirit is allowed to move freely. There is a unity in faith to see God move within the congregation, when the focus is on the love of God to move. It is a marvelous thing to have witnessed, and I thank God that through my travels I have witnessed such love and blessings in certain congregations. Follow after love, and you cannot go wrong, for love is the fulfillment of the law of Christ.
“Give Thanks to the Lord, for His love is everlasting.”