SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES, by Ray E Horton
As the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, the priority for spiritual growth is the fruit of the spirit, with the gifts as overflow. Gifts first can lead to bad results. 1 Cor. 12, 13 and 14 tie the fruit and the gifts together and show the proper balance. Chapter 13, known as the love chapter, is set between the chapters on the spiritual gifts and the needed order in the church.
Love Comes First
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1). Let’s look at the order of these words. Yes, we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, but we are told first to “pursue love.”
If love and our character aren’t the focus, our gifts are wrongly motivated and useless
Let us read this in context, right after 1 Cor. 13, where the first verse reads: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” If the love (which includes all the fruit mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23) and our character aren’t the focus, our gifts are wrongly motivated and useless. As 1 Cor. 12:8 points out, the gifts aren’t for our glory but for others: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for the common good.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control; against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Spiritual gifts can go to the head of an immature believer. But “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” Gal. 5:24-25).
It’s about our relationship with the Lord, intimacy with Him, knowing who we are in Him and who He is in us, and allowing the Holy Spirit to change our lives. It’s about surrender to Him and availability for God to use us – not doing our own thing. It’s about maturing in Christ – then the gifts, the empowerment, will overflow from that with right motivation and supernatural fruit that lasts.