1 Corinthians 14:1
Follow after charity (love), and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Note the sequence. The order.
We often get this backwards.
We spend our energy in pursuit of gifts. Chasing talent. Giftedness. The mysterious. Even the supernatural.
We chase the latest expression of God’s demonstration of power.
We run to the latest ‘hot spot’ where God is moving.
We clamor after the fire.
We want to be in on the next great revival. So we follow after the gifts that we think will bring the ‘new thing’ God will do.
Oh, we desire love. We really do.
We want to love. But we follow something different. We follow, chase, run after ‘the gift.’
Why? Because it’s mysterious. It offers excitement. A tingle effect.
Maybe it’s not even the gifts of the spirit we follow. Maybe it’s just gifts that make us feel important. Special. Unique.
So we chase. We follow the gift. The talent. The mysterious.
We desire love. Charity.
But we follow the gifts.
Yet…God says we’ve got it backwards. We are to follow love. To desire gifts, yes. But follow love.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing the things of the Spirit. On the contrary, I desire to establish them. And I’m certainly not against the gifts of the Spirit. Too often they are missing from our corporate gatherings.
Truth is, we’ve seen so much of what man can do and accomplish that it is refreshing to experience something that goes beyond human effort and achievement. We need a reintroduction to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our contemporary churches.
But we can’t get the cart before the horse. We can’t get it wrong on the outset and end up where we really want (rather need) to be.
If we get it wrong at the beginning, we will certainly miss the finale.
Desiring the gifts of the Spirit is a biblical injunction. A command if you will.
Yet desiring and following are two different ‘things.’ They fall into two completely separate categories.
Desire has to do with something I want.
Pursuit has to do with something I need. Something I have to have. It is defining. It’s deeper than desire. It defines the core of my existence.
Bill Mounce describes the word follow (pursue) this way:
To put in rapid motion; to pursue; to follow, pursue the direction of, ; to follow eagerly, endeavor earnestly to acquire,; to press forwards.
In a negative sense it means to pursue with malignity, persecute.
It’s obvious that this implies direction, not just emotion.
When I desire something, emotion is involved.
When I pursue or follow something, I’m setting the direction of my life toward it.
Why is this important?
Because the thing I follow sets the course of my life. It defines the nature of my actions, and not just the deeds of what I do.
Look at it like this…
Love is engine. It drives everything.
When I exercise a gift, even a supernatural gift, love drives it. Or at least it should.
If I am pursuing a gift, I can exercise that gift without the love should drive it. The love that should define it.
It’s possible to operate in a gift that is devoid of love.
At the end of the day, love is what will arrest the heart and anchor it. Gifts capture attention. Love secures the soul.
Let’s not get this backwards.
It will only produce misguided results and caricatures of the nature of God.
What think ye?