Gifts and fruits of the Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit. Tongues, prophecy, words of faith, knowledge and wisdom, healing, laying on of hands… people argue about how many there are and what some of them actually mean. There are classes taught on how to ‘operate’ in these gifts, sermons taught on them, and many who ‘seek’ them.
Then there are the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. There is no argument over these, no debate over what they mean or how or when they should be used. I’ve never heard anyone talk about how to ‘operate’ in the fruit of the Spirit or heard anyone talk about ‘seeking’ these fruit.
Which are more important? Which should be emphasized and sought after?
The gifts of the Spirit are attractive. Those who say they have them and emphasize them get the spotlight, the TV shows, the accolades… sadly, too often we not only seek these gifts, but those who exhibit them. Some run back and forth to meetings where someone who claims these gifts will be preaching. Instead of studying the Bible for answers, we may seek a ‘word of knowledge’ for what we should do. We may base our own spiritual walk on our experiences and emotionalism rather than on the promises of God. Some may even seek gifts rather than God, or they may seek Him only for the gifts, rather than for who He is.
For a very long time, I did those things. And by doing them, I got hurt, burnt out, and stressed out. I often doubted my salvation, my understanding of the Bible, and the will of God for my life. I finally realized that whatever the will of God might be for my life, those things weren’t it. Gifts mean nothing in a fruitless life.
1 Cor 13:1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Which are more important in a Christian’s life, gifts or fruit? I believe Paul gave us the answer. The greatest of these is love…