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The Far Better Spiritual Gift

The greatest spiritual gift is love.

Taking a step back

Our church has been studying the Spiritual Gifts.  As I sat back and listened to what was being said, I wondered…could the effort and time that we, the Christian community, put into studying and talking about the spiritual gifts be keeping us from actually using those gifts?

There is a lot of talk about the gifts, what they are, what yours are, when you get them, what to do with them, when and where you can use them, etc.  The phrase “paralysis of analysis” comes to mind.  The concept behind that phrase is that you are so busy analyzing a thing that you are paralyzed from acting upon it.

The gifts listed

Paul listed nine gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gift of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

There are others listed elsewhere in the Bible.  It’s not the point of this article to list all the gifts.  Suffice it to say that depending on how you define them, some say there are up to twenty gifts, possibly more.

A Far Better Gift

There are all sorts of seminars and tests to see what your gift is.  The internet is full of people expounding and expanding on them.  Amidst all that chatter, at the end of chapter 12, there is this little quiet nugget, an additional gift not listed with the other nine.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:31 “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.  And yet, I am going to show you a far better way.”

The other gifts are good, some are even greater, as Paul declares, but he goes on to say there is one gift that is better than all the other gifts.  Not only better but “far better.”

Far Better Gift Defined

And what is this “far better” gift?  If we read on into the next chapter, chapter 13, we see that Paul devotes an entire chapter about this far better way or gift.

Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is affectionately known as the love chapter.  It’s not usually read as part of the gift listing in Chapter 12, but why not?  It is sandwiched between the listing of the gifts in chapter 12 and chapter 14 which speaks about how the gift of tongues is to be practiced.  Paul does not talk about love as an aside but rather it’s all wrapped up and intertwined with the other gifts, therefore it is a gifting.  The only thing separating it from the other gifts is that it is the “far better” gift.

Read how Paul speaks about the gifting of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may glory, but do not have love, it does me no good.

4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 5 It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 6 it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part and prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Gifting Groups

By Paul’s writings, there are three groups of gifts.  He speaks of the “far better” gift as one.  Secondly, he mentions the “greater gifts”, so assumedly the others must be grouped as regular gifts or whatever you choose to call them.  Also, notice there are several “greater gifts” and several regular gifts but only one “far better” gift.

All of a sudden it doesn’t matter if there are nine or ninety gifts listed in the Bible.  Showing love supersedes any and all of them.

Gift Uses

And what’s the primary use of the spiritual gifts?  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:7 they are given for the “common good.”  1 Peter 4:10 says they are for “serving one another.”  So any gift you have from God is to be used for Christ’s church.  Your church.  Anywhere you and others are is where you should use your gift, but certainly in your Christian community.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Don’t waste time wondering what your spiritual gift is.  You don’t need to take a gift-test or study the gifts to see what yours might be.  If it’s a gift, it will come out naturally.  You may not see it, but others do.  Instead, focus on what Paul calls “the far better gift”…loving.

Don’t bother looking for a specific place where some gift could be used or needed.  That just limits what you do and where you do it.  Is there any place that doesn’t need a bit of love?  Even the Beatles knew this when they sang, “All you need is love.”  I don’t expect they were trying to share Spiritual gifting but the lyrics ring true.

Let love, as defined by what can I do, or have, that would benefit this person, be your priority.  Sometimes just a listening ear or a simple word of encouragement is what’s needed.

Share your gift; it’s a gift.

AuthorPaul Johnson | BCWorldview.org 

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