“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
But earnestly desire the best gifts.
The command to “earnestly desire the best gifts” is not addressed to the individual but the collective church. The implied “you” is second person plural in Greek. We cannot select our gifts because that is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit (a point made in many places in this chapter). However, as a congregation, we can “earnestly desire” that the “best gifts” (superlative gifts) be manifested among us. The “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ. In chapter 14, Paul lists “prophecy” (exposition) as a greater gift.
And yet I show you a more excellent way.
The “more excellent way” refers to chapter 13, the chapter on love. Love is the motivation for using our gifts. “Excellent” means to cast beyond, to surpass. Love is something that surpasses gifts because it is a quality way of life. Chapter 12 catalogs the gifts but chapter 13 shows the correct use of gifts – love. Chapter 14 shows the misuse of gifts. Paul wants to “show” the Corinthians the importance of love in the use of their gifts.
The tandem of gift and love is powerful.
God does not give gifts on demand, but we depend on the collective gifts of the entire body. Love is a course of conduct, not a gift. God gives gifts to some and not others. Love is a way of life that all may seek. Love is a par excellent way of life.
No matter what gift we may have, if we do not demonstrate love in the use of that gift, we might as well not use it. A gifted person can be a carnal person. It is a great tandem to possess a gift and exercise love with it.
Thank u. I appreciate the directness and honesty.
Imputed righteousness of the carnal Christian is such a hard concept to grasp. What can such a person contribute to the church? What is the right and wrong of allowing/disallowing their participation in the work of the local church? What are their gifts? Is this contrary to the doctrine of most Christian churches? Have you discussed this somewhere else in your exposition. By the way, we praise God for your teaching gift. Thank you.
Gregg, there is no relation between a carnal person who has a spiritual gift and the gift itself. We know of many leaders who had a great gift of leadership but were out of fellowship with God. God gave the gift at the point of salvation. That gift never leaves the Christian no matter how spiritual or non-spiritual he may be. God's use of our gift rests on our spirituality.
Gregg, imputed righteousness is something that God does for the believer at salvation. See my studies on Romans 3:21 through chapter 4. The Greek word for impute means to recoken. It God who does the reckoning. He reckons us to be as righteous as Jesus is righteous because we trust in His death to give us eternal life.
Give Gos praise … Exalt the Lord at all times .
The Gifts are for the edification of the church; Love is Christ’s Blood coursing through our veins. The Bible says we are given gifts….but we see they are not eternal….1 Corinthians 13….they will cease. We know also the Bible says God is Love…and therefore Love is eternal. We can spend a life-time in pursuit of fulfilling what Paul reveals (through the Holy Spirit) about Love. It’s very hard to be selfish and judgmental if we pattern our lives after this chapter.