In his first letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul shows us a classification of spiritual gifts and encourages us to “eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
He writes. “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” 1st. Corinth 12:28-31
How can one earnestly desire for the greater gifts? In the next verse the Apostle promises to “show you the most excellent way.” (12:32)
We learn in the famous 13th chapter of this letter that human beings can eagerly desire to the greater gifts of the Holy Spirit through selfless love. This is so important to understand correctly. If you have this selfless love you get the “greater gifts.” But if you don’t have this selfless love, you are worth nothing and you gain nothing even if you are an apostle and have all the faith so as to remove mountains.
This is the clear message of the 13th chapter in the 1st letter addressed to the Corinthians. Either you earnestly desire for the greater gifts and the way is having selfless love toward to your fellow human being, or you gain nothing no matter what other gifts you have.
“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1st Corinth 13:1-3).
These are truly powerful and eye-opening words.You see how Apostle Paul depreciates all gifts in the absence of love? What an amazing amplification.
The message is this: eagerly desire for the greater gifts of God. True and selfless love toward neighbor is the most excellent way to do so.