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16:17-18). Before that chapter ends, there   “Is this benefitting my fellow-believers?”
        is an explanation of what He meant, for   The Desire for Gift
        the Lord was “confirming the word by    “Desire earnestly the greater gifts”
        the signs that followed” (v20 RV). These   (1Co 12:31 RV). While gift is bestowed
        miracles were being used to authenticate   sovereignly by the Spirit, we have a duty
        the preaching of the new message of the   to desire gift. The three lists of gifts in 1
        gospel. For example, the gift of tongues   Corinthians 12 total thirteen gifts, with
        was a sign to unbelievers, in particular,   those in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 in-
        to unbelieving Jews, “this people” (1Co   creasing the number to around twenty. In
        14:21-22). When the new message was   each of the three lists in 1 Corinthians 12,
        established, there was no further need of   the gift of tongues with its companion gift
        sign gifts, and they became redundant   of interpretation is always last. As stated
        (1Co 13:8-13).                        earlier, the Corinthians were enthusiastic
          In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the anal-  about the spectacular, so Paul downplays
        ogy of the human body to illustrate diver-  the importance of that gift in comparison
        sity. The body is a single entity, and yet it   to prophecy, and hence his exhortation
        comprises various organs and members,   to desire the greater gifts. Possibly he is
        all with their specific function. Similarly,   suggesting that congregationally they
        the assembly is a unit with multiple mem-  should be anticipating God’s raising up
        bers, each with their Spirit-endowed gift   prophets among them for the greater good
        which must function for the spiritual   of the company. If regarded as a personal
        health of the whole company. You must   desire for one of the better gifts, again the
        exercise the gift that you have received   motivation should be the yearning to be of
        rather than encroaching on someone else’s   maximum help to the assembly.
        sphere of responsibility; having received   The gift of prophecy was exercised
        a gift, “minister the same one to another”   when a brother received a direct com-
        (1Pe 4:10).                           munication from the Lord and relayed it
        The Design of Gift                    to the assembly (1Co 14:29-33). It had this
          As just quoted from 1 Peter 4:10, we   in common with tongues: it was a tempo-
        minister our gift “one to another,” but as   rary gift (13:8-12). When the final inspired
        we do so, it results in “God in all things   revelation was committed to writing, the
        [being] glorified” (v11). That lofty objec-  function of the prophet ended. The need
        tive is a strong motive to “stir up the gift   for the gift of teaching lives on.
        of God which is in thee” (2Ti 1:6) rather   In desiring a gift, ascertain what your
        than neglect it (1Ti 4:14).           gift is, and then function appropriately
          The overall purpose for the gifts is “for   and  zealously.  Scripture  promises  the
        profit” (1Co 12:7 JND), in particular, in   necessary grace: “Unto every one of us
        edifying the assembly (14:12): “Let all   is given grace according to the measure
        things be done unto edifying” (v26). This   of the gift of Christ” (Eph 4:7). There is a
        is one area in which the gift of prophecy   gift designated “helps” (1Co 12:28), which
        was superior to tongues. The one who   many believers have been given. If you
        spoke in tongues edified himself, whereas   fit in there, look out for opportunities to
        prophecy edified the church (v4). When   be helpful, and be as supportive and co-
        exercising your gift, this is the acid test:   operative as possible.

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