Spiritual gifts aren’t so much a destination as they are tools for the journey.
That is a thought that has gone through my head as we have traveled through the topic of spiritual gifts. I am sure it has stepped on many of our toes as it has maybe challenged our upbringings and preconceived notions. I know it has stepped on mine. The point of the gifts really isn’t the gifts at all. It’s love. It is pursuing God and loving those around us.
I love how Paul starts off chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. He says, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” Love is crazy. Love isn’t a feeling or warmth. It isn’t candied hearts or sexual encounters. Love is by definition the emptying of ourselves for the sake of others. It is staying up with a grieving parent who has lost a child. Love is breaking your back working so much to provide for your family. It’s confronting your brothers and sisters in Christ who are stuck in sin. It is following Christ and following Him with everything you have.
That is what we are told to pursue. I often wonder what the church would look like if we really pursued love when we came to church. What if we went to church not with an attitude of what we could get out of it? What if when we came to church we asked ourselves “who can I encourage?” or “Where can God use me?”
This isn’t to say that spiritual gifts are not important. They are vital. Paul says to desire them earnestly. To crave them. But the purpose of them is not to make ourselves look awesome. It is to help others look at Jesus. If when you use your gift people are only looking at you, then you aren’t using your spiritual gift as God intended.
It is so easy to view the church as a place that is supposed to cater to us. It’s not. That was not what Jesus intended. He never intended for us to just sing a couple songs and sit in a seat to hear a message. These are great things, worship and preaching are vital to our spiritual health. But we were never meant to only consume. You are designed to give. You are designed to be spent.
So when you are sitting in your seat this week, look around. See the people around you. Realize that there are five hundred stories around you, full of hang ups, break ups, joys, failures, and brokenness. And if you are in Christ, God has called you to build up the body around you. How has He gifted you to serve?