Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.1 Corinthians 12:31 NIV
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
In the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that, as believers in the Lord Jesus, we are a part of one body, the body of Christ. And the Holy Spirit has equipped each of us to be able to serve within the body. We do not all have the same gifting or place within the body. But we are all important to the health and vitality of the body.
After this extended discussion of our role and equipping within the body, he gives us this brief instruction. To eagerly desire the greater gifts. And that there is something even better than any of the gifts. And that is the way of love.
What are the greater gifts? Those that provide the most value to the body as a whole. They are not necessarily the most visible or prestigious. Later Paul identifies prophecy as more important than tongues (1 Cor. 14:2-5). Prophecy here is not predicting the future. Instead, it is speaking words that strengthen, encourage, and comfort those in the body. That is something we should all eagerly desire to do.
But even better is to follow the way of love (1 Cor. 14:1). Paul tells us that without love, nothing else we do matters. All that we do should be done in love. Love for God, and love for those he has put us with. Correct doctrine (orthodoxy) and right actions (orthopraxy) are good. But without love, they are only a clanging cymbal.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).