Having emphasized the supreme importance of love in the preceding chapter (I Corinthians 13), the Apostle Paul returns to the subject of spiritual gifts, which he began discussing in Chapter 12.
According to Paul, the value of each spiritual gift is defined in terms of the benefit it provides to others when administered through love.
Two principles are at work in Paul’s admonition:
- You should ask God for special abilities empowered by the Holy Spirit that can be used to benefit other people, particularly other Christians; and
- You should ask for those abilities having the most potential to benefit others, specifically the ability to prophesy or speak a special message directly from God.
If you love God, then you want to do His work. The best way for you to do His work is by His enabling power.
And consequently, loving God means you love people and want them to know and love Him because God loves people.
In contrast to the Corinthians, who seemed to want to exercise spiritual gifts that made them appear to be spiritual to other people, love for God and other people should be the motive for asking for spiritual gifts.
So, when love is actually the reason, then it’s desirable–no, necessary–to ask God for spiritual gifts that can be used to help and strengthen other people.
“But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us” (1 John 4:12, NLT).