Monday, June 28, 2010

Seeking the Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

31 ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ χαρίσματα τὰ μείζονα. Καὶ ἔτι καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν ὑμῖν δείκνυμι.

This is the last verse in chapter 12.  Paul has spent the whole chapter describing the various gifts and how one should not be envious of another's gifts.  Some may have more flashy gifts than others, but all the gifts are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.  I won't get into the cessationist debate here, but in short I would say that my position is "cautiously open."  I have heard too many stories to completely dismiss the existence of the "sign gifts" today, but I also want to be cautious about it since I have not experienced them personally and I know how this can be abused.

My point today is simply to focus on the last verse.  Anyone who has been to a Christian wedding is likely to have heard 1 Corinthians 13 read.  This verse provides the context for that chapter.  It's not really about loving relationships in the sense that it is usually taken.  Instead, it refers to the "still more excellent way" or ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν.  According to Thayer, the word ὑπερβολὴν most properly means "throwing beyond," but metaphorically it means "beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently."

What is that way?  The way of love.  In other words, before we worry about gifts of healing, tongues, etc, let's worry about loving one another.  They will know us by our love, right?  Good for you if you've truly experienced a sign gift.  However, none of those are as important as love.

No comments: