“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts.” (1 Corinthians 14:1a)
It’s worth pursuing
The above passage reminds of where our priorities need to be. Love is to be pursued while spiritual gifts are to be desired. Not only should we desire gifts, Scripture instructs us to “earnestly desire the best gifts.” The passage doesn’t stop there though. It goes on to say, “yet I show you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31) What follows next is the most acclaimed discourse on love ever written. (1 Corinthians 13)
The point is clear: while spiritual gifts are excellent, love is much more excellent. Without it spiritual gifts hold no value at all – they’re nothing. This is why love is to be pursued. Gifts, on the other hand, are to be desired. To help grasp this idea, allow me to illustrate. A home is to be pursued. The swimming pool is a desire. It might even be an earnest desire, but the home is more important. That’s where the priority needs to be. Or think of your hobby. Hobbies are great to have. But work is greater. It’s more necessary. Therefore, work is pursued, while hobbies are desired.
In the family of God, love is the necessary thing. We can get along without spiritual gifts, but we cannot get along without love. Getting our priorities flipped lands us into trouble. That’s what happened in Corinth. Instead of pursuing love, they pursued gifts. “You come short in no gift.” Paul tells them. (See 1 Corinthians 1:7) Love may have been a desire, but they hardly pursued it. This church didn’t get along at all.
Desire is good if what’s desired is good. But desire does not always lead to pursuit. I desire a full head of hair. However, I’m not pursuing it. Frankly, it’s too costly. Gifts, on the other hand, cost us nothing. That’s why they’re called “gifts”! God gives them freely. We freely receive them. It simply comes down to desire. If you want the gift, you accept it at no charge.
Love doesn’t work that way. It is costly. While receiving it is free, pursuing it has a price. We must die to self. That’s not always a desire and why we don’t pursue love as often as we should. The desire may be there, but not the pursuit. Not always, anyway.
Love is something we’re to be in ‘hot pursuit’ of. Think of a bounty hunter. He won’t rest until he gets his man. He remains on his trail determined to collect his reward. The pursuit consumes him. Many pursue an education, a career, or a companion with similar passion. They are willing to go the distance and suffer the costs, whatever it takes. We all pursued sin in like manner before surrendering to Christ. We didn’t stumble into it. We were in hot pursuit of it.
Now that we are in Christ, we are on an altogether different pursuit. We pursue love with everything we’ve got. The gifts we desire only serve to help us in this pursuit. Stay on love’s trail, my friend. Do your all to capture it. The reward will be huge.
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660