Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV)
I have heard many sermons on how to follow the way of love. I cannot remember a single sermon encouraging me to desire the spiritual gift of prophecy. Desire is powerful. My desires determine my actions. The shelter in place orders impact us differently depending on our desires. I naturally desire to be inside, so that part of the order is easy for me. I do desire to have some interaction with people and I prefer to do that face to face. In this case the order is frustrating. For example, my dad is in an assisted living facility and no visitors are permitted. I can call him on the phone, but this does not satisfy my desire to spend time with him. I am grateful the facility has provided a way to video conference with him and that is somewhat better than just using the phone. At least I can see and hear him.
I could list many things that I desire, but no where on that list would I put a desire for a specific spiritual gift. Church leaders are often confronted with the absence of a specific spiritual gift within their congregation. The solution is generally to identify someone who is already filling many needs and ask them to fill the gap. Following the way of love would mean that members of the congregation would see the need and have a desire to fill it. If they have the resources to fill it, the solution is easy and depends on what God has already provided. If they don’t have the resources, the solution is to pray that God would provide them.
In the Corinthian congregation Paul has identified a need for instruction and encouragement that would be met by those with the spiritual gift of prophecy. His instruction is the opposite of what is promoted in most churches today. We are encouraged to discover our spiritual gift and are provided with a variety of tools to help us do that. Paul never says to take a test to discover your spiritual gift. He says to eagerly desire a specific gift, in this case prophecy.
I’m embarrassed to say that when I attempt to answer the question, “What do I want?”, the answers are almost always related to my own perceived personal needs. I need constant reminders to open my heart to the needs of others and desire gifts from God that could flow through me to meet those needs.