1 Cor. 12:29-31a
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire and strive for the greater gifts.
God makes available to us many gifts of the Spirit. Scripture tells us that God distributes these gifts as He sees fit. I do not know whether anyone possesses all of the gifts of the Spirit, but we can see that the gifts that manifest one person may be completely different from the gifts that manifest in another. We can sit back and allow God to distribute these gifts without making any specific requests. We can watch as others exhibit moves of the Spirit that we would like to exhibit, and we may feel unappreciative or covetous if we desire those same gifts. While we should not envy each other or want to take from our brothers and sisters what they have, we must understand what scripture tells us regarding whether it is right for us to desire specific gifts.
Today’s scripture instructs us to seek after the greater gifts. These are spiritual gifts that serve to encourage the entire body of Christ as opposed to only the recipient of the gift. There is nothing wrong with asking God for one of the greater gifts. Of course, the intention behind the request matters. If I desire the gift of prophecy so that people will admire me for my spirituality, my motivation is not to serve the body of Christ but to serve myself. Likewise, if I desire the gift of knowledge as a parlor game instead of a tool for letting the Holy Spirit work through me, I miss the point completely. To desire the greater gifts means that we want God to use us for the purpose of building our fellow saints. We should desire for God to move through us as He develops our brothers and sisters corporately. It is a privilege and a duty to help build up the body of saints on Earth.
It is not selfish to ask God for the greater gifts if the motivation behind the request is to selflessly serve the body of believers. Of course He wants us to desire to walk in the giftings that He makes available through his Holy Spirit. Of course He wants us to desire to have him work through us. Of course He wants us to desire to have an encouraging and positive effect on our fellow saints. All of these are without question. Hopefully, we desire these things, but we cannot expect to receive the greater gifts if our motivation is simply to elevate ourselves. And we can seek the greater gifts while still appreciating and operating in the other gifts that God has given us. Father, thank You for using us to encourage and develop the body of Christ, and make us believers who desire to help You build our fellow saints.