“But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31, NASB).
The Apostle Paul begins a response to the Corinthians’ question about Spiritual gifts in corporate worship in I Corinthians 12. Paul identifies varieties of Spiritual gifts and varieties of Spiritual service. (Notice that I render the word “Spiritual” with a capital “S” to indicate that the source of the gifting is God the Holy Spirit and not the individual who may be perceived to be “spiritual” because he or she is exercising a gift.)
Paul explains that these manifestations of the Holy Spirit are given for the common good (see Part 1 – The Gift List). He makes an analogy of God’s people, the Church, being similar in function to a human body. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (vs. 27). There are many parts to the human body; some body parts perform a higher function than other body parts; yet all parts of the human body are required for the body to function properly. It is the same for the dispensation of Spiritual gifts to the collective body of Christ.
But, we should earnestly desire Spiritual gifts and especially the greater gifts. Now, Paul either means that the Corinthians should earnestly desire greater giftings or that they are desiring greater giftings. Either way, he means it’s a good thing to desire Spiritual gifts because he repeats this admonition in vs. 14:1.
And, Paul also gives an explanation of what he means by greater gifts in Chapter 14. Greater gifts are those that when exercised, impact more people and/or impact people in a more significant way.
So, to have this greater impact on people with your Spiritual gift(s), you must exercise your gift(s) with love as described in I Corinthians 13. When you exercise your Spiritual gift with love, that means you exercise it with fidelity–using it for the purpose God intended–and with integrity–for God’s glory, not your own–so that other people will be helped.
Your Spiritual gift should be exercised to help others, not to show how spiritual you are! And, when you exercise you Spiritual gift, it’s the Holy Spirit who is working through you, not you doing it because you are so talented or spiritual.
It’s because you are (Holy) Spiritually gifted!
If 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. (1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB)