In our final post on the spiritual gifts, we will describe how to seek greater gifts of the Holy Spirit gives us. We have just talked about ways people can misuse the gifts of the Spirit. And now we focus on the greater gifts Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.
Many gifts appear in the New Testament, and all are useful to the body. But Paul specifies there are “greater gifts” that we should seek. This does not mean the Holy Spirit gives these gifts to everyone. But we can seek them. Let’s dive in and look at the greater gifts.
What Are the Best Spiritual Gifts?
Each of us has in our minds an idea of the greatest gifts, or the best gifts. These are the gifts we want to use. If you have an outgoing personality, perhaps you think you should use some of the “limelight” gifts like prophecy, speaking in tongues and interpretation, words of knowledge and wisdom, and the like.
People with laid-back personalities may seek gifts of service, administration, and helps. They want to stay in the background. But the Spirit doesn’t just give gifts that agree with our personality. That’s only part of His equation for how He distributes the gifts.
While we focus on the gifts we want, the best gifts are the ones the Holy Spirit wants to use in each moment among us. He apportions the gifts because He leads us in the gifts. In the moment, He may desire to speak to the body through prophecy. Or it may be a moment for hospitality or service.
The gifts are the most practical of all the ministries of the Holy Spirit. So, whatever gift He wants to use in the moment, that is the best gift. And if no one else is there to use it, He may gift it to you for the moment. There’s no rule that says you must use only the gifts you have discovered you have.
The gifts are not about us. They are about listening to the Spirit, being prompted by Him, and using that gift to minister to the body of Christ in that moment. All the gifts have their place, and in the right moment, every gift is the best gift.
The Greater Gifts
Paul speaks of the “greater gifts” several times throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14. After discussing the gifts at length in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us to, “Earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Later, toward the end of his teaching on prophecy and speaking in tongues with interpretation in a congregational setting in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul says, “Earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39).
The greater gifts are those that speak to the body of Christ, specifically prophecy. For Paul, in a congregational setting, the gift of prophecy is the greatest gift because it ministers directly to the body and allows the Holy Spirit to speak to the Church.
So, any gift that ministers to the body of Christ at the moment of its need is a greater gift. Prophecy cannot be the only greater gift, because Paul speaks of them in the plural. Speaking in tongues when accompanied by interpretation can also be one of the greater gifts.
Paul points out speaking in tongues when he says to not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39). Words of knowledge and wisdom can also be greater gifts as they speak to the body in the same way prophecy and speaking in tongues can.
These are probably what Paul would consider the greater gifts. They must be active in our services. We must not quench the Spirit, or not allow Him to speak directly to us when He wishes. He offers encouragement, exhortation, and comfort to us.
Seeking Greater Gifts
How do we go about seeking these greater gifts? What if we do not feel we have the qualifications to use the greater gifts? Some people are not comfortable even seeking the gifts they believe the Holy Spirit wants to give them.
Like anything else we seek in the Christian life, Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-11). The action verbs in asking, seeking, and knocking are present, continuous tense. We never stop asking, seeking, or knocking.
We can be persistent in asking for the greater gifts. No one annoys God with their requests, even if they are persistent and asking for the same things. I think part of the reason we should seek these greater gifts is to be used by the Holy Spirit in these moments.
What if the Holy Spirit does not grant these greater gifts to us? Seeking the Holy Spirit for greater gifts is not about receiving them as much has seeking to be used by Him in the moments He speaks to the body. We become so fixated on the gifts that we forget about other parts to the Christian life.
As you seek the Spirit for these greater gifts, when He grants them to you, even if just in the moment and not as a lasting gift, be thankful that He chooses to minister through you in those special moments.
Seeking the Gift Giver
More than seeking the gifts, we must seek the gift Giver. The Holy Spirit gives the gifts, but we should seek Him more than we seek anything from Him. Of course He gives us gifts. But it’s not about the gifts as much as it is the Giver.
The gifts of the Spirit are important to us because He ministers to the body through us. But when we ask the Holy Spirit for gifts, we must have the right motives. Do you seek the gifts to minister to others or to look spiritual in front of others?
Do you seek the gifts because the Scriptures tell us to seek them or because you want others to notice you as you use gifts? Our motives are very important to the Holy Spirit. He will not give gifts if we abuse or misuse them.
Endeavor to seek the Holy Spirit more than you seek the gifts. The more you run after the Spirit, He will bless you with the gifts to minister to the Church. And you will understand His heart as you minister through the gifts.
Paul also teaches that the greatest way to minister the gifts is through love and in order. We must never forget that we approach our brothers and sisters in Christ with God’s unconditional love when we use the gifts. This is a great motivation for seeking the gifts. We follow the Spirit’s lead and minister in an orderly manner.
This series has been devoted to studying the gifts of the Spirit. But we often get tunnel vision about our studies. We focus so much on one thing in the Christian life that we forget about the basics, the fundamentals, and what God expects of us.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking the gifts and studying them in depth. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be used by the Holy Spirit through the gifts. But we must not get so focused on the gifts that we forget about other parts of the Christian life.
We must not make the gifts more than they should be. They can become idols to us if we seek them more than we seek the Holy Spirit. We need to have a balance in our walk with Christ. So many things in the Christian life demand our attention, and we must strive to do them all well.
Do not put the gifts over other things in the Christian life. Keep them in the right place. Do not put them above prayer, Bible study, following Jesus with your whole heart, and witnessing to others about Jesus. Keep them in balance with everything else Jesus has commanded you to do.
We have studied the gifts of the Spirit in depth. If you ever need to remember what we have studied, want to look at it again, it will always be available here. These 24 short studies on the gifts should equip you to seek the gifts of the Spirit for your life.
Minister to the body of Christ with your gifts. Use them to glorify Jesus and keep Him in the center of your life. May you be blessed, and bless others, as you use your gifts for God’s glory.
Another series reaches its final post as we have concluded our Seek the Gifts series. It’s been a joy to walk through the gifts with you and talk about them in depth. I hope I have answered your questions, but more than that, I hope you seek the Holy Spirit for the gifts He wants to minister through you.
Always keep seeking the Holy Spirit, and the gifts he has for you. Find your niche in the body of Christ, and use your gifts to encourage and exhort the body. Continue to bless others with your gifts as you seek the Lord and minister His great power among us.