But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all — love]. (1 Corinthians 12:31, Amplified)
I think about this scripture often. I think about the gifts of the Spirit: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, wonder-working faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation. And I think a lot about love.
Now many of you are right there with me. Doing just what the scriptures tell us to do, earnestly desiring and zealously cultivating these gifts, these graces. Some on the other hand, may believe that these things have passed away. I can tell you from experience that these gifts are still alive and well, as can many others who have simply believed and obeyed God’s Word.
So, as this scripture has instructed, many of us have desired these gifts. But it says to do so earnestly. Let’s take a quick look at that word earnestly.
It means to burn with zeal, to be zealous in the pursuit of good, to desire earnestly, to pursue, to exert one’s self for one, to be zealously sought after (www.blueletterbible.org).
The other day as I read this scripture it struck me how to do what this passage says. How to pursue these gifts earnestly. And that is to desire them for no other reason, with no other motivation, but that of love.
I spend much of my week in hospitals and nursing homes. I teach classes where the sick come to be healed. I get calls from a friend of a friend who has a terminal disease who heard that I might be able to help them. I see and hear from a lot of sick and dying people and because of my overwhelming desire to see them healed, I have an overwhelming desire to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. I have no other motivation.
I don’t care to be seen or known. I care about seeing sick and dying people set free to the glory of God. And there are times that the only way that’s going to happen is by the operation of one or more of those gifts.
So it is His love in me for these people, His love alone, that drives me to my knees in prayer. It is His love that causes me to fast and pray. It is His love that causes me to study, search and meditate the scriptures earnestly looking for how to minister God and His healing power to these sick and dying people.
I truly believe that this is the only way, love is the only way, that we can ever really earnestly desire and zealously cultivate these gifts the way He intended.
For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us… (2 Corinthians 5:14, Amplified)
Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. (2 Corinthians 5:14, Message)
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. (James 5:16, Amplified)