Gifts or Fruits?


Having been a member of the Body of Christ since May 15, 1976, I have had the privilege of knowing fellow members of Christ from a variety of nations and a variety of religious backgrounds.  I have attended Christian conferences over the years, and have see the advertisements for a wide variety of Christian Conferences.  It seems that many conference leaders or providers are interested in promoting and demonstrating spiritual gifts, but few if any are interested in promoting or demonstrating spiritual fruits!  But both are important, and they are intended to compliment each other and be equally sought after.

Rom 14:16  Then do not let your good be spoken evil of,
Rom 14:17  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy [fruits] in the Holy Spirit.

1Co 4:19  But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills. And I will not know the speech of those who are puffed up, but the power.
1Co 4:20  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1Co 4:21  What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and the spirit of meekness?


I suspect that the reason for this is that the members of the body of Christ have been mostly deprived of the elementary principles of the Kingdom of God.  That is not surprising, for we have an adversary who is intent upon nullifying what God wants to do with His creation, and especially with His highest creation - mankind.

I, like many others, have read 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14 at least several times, and find that God's leaders show much interest in the list of spiritual gifts set forth in chapter 12 of that epistle, some interest in chapter 13 - the so-called 'love chapter', but almost no interest in chapter 14, in which the interaction of God's love and His spiritual gifts is set forth.  In fact, I have more than once heard the first verse of chapter 14 mis-quoted.  Here is the actual verse in a variety of translations and the original Greek:

1 Corinthians 14:1

(ASV)  Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

(BBE)  Go after love; still desiring to have the things which the Spirit gives, but most of all that you may have the prophet's power.

(CEV)  Love should be your guide. Be eager to have the gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy.

(DRB)  Follow after charity, be zealous for spiritual gifts; but rather that you may prophesy.

(ERV)  Love should be the goal of your life, but you should also want to have the gifts that come from the Spirit. And the gift you should want most is to be able to prophesy.

(ESV)  Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

(GNB)  It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message.

(GNT)  Διώκετε τὴν ἀγάπην· ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ πνευματικά, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε.

(GW)  Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed.

(ISV)  Keep on pursuing love, and keep on desiring spiritual gifts, especially the ability to prophesy.

(KJV)  Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

(LEB)  Pursue love, and strive for spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

(LITV)  Pursue love, and seek eagerly the spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy.

(MKJV)  Follow after charity and desire spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy.

(RV)  Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

(YLT)  Pursue the love, and seek earnestly the spiritual things, and rather that ye may prophecy,

The mis-quote I have heard several times is this:  "Earnestly desire spiritual gifts".  The commandment to pursue love is either ignored or omitted!!  I believe that this mis-quoting is the result of lack of crucifixion of the flesh of carnal Christian leaders.

This was apparently the case in the church at Corinth in the days of Paul the apostle.  He acknowledges that they abound in spiritual gifts, yet he chastises them for their carnality!  He attributes the fact that they are divided by their carnal loyalties to leaders rather than being united by loyalty to Christ Jesus and God the Father.

As usual, Paul misses a great opportunity to clearly explain the difference between carnal and spiritual Christians, and how to be transformed from being carnal to being spiritual.  But I assume that God has hidden these fundamental truths so that only those who are looking for these 'how to's' will be able to find them. They are hidden in plain sight, of course!

Eventually Paul, in his epistles to the Corinthians, gets to that point in 2 Corinthians 5:15

2Cor 5:15  He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for Him Who died and was raised to life for their sake.

I believe that only those Christians who realized that they are living carnal lives and are missing out on the amazing adventure of living a spiritual life for God rather than a carnal life for themselves will ask Jesus for the means of that transformation, and will receive His grace to accomplish that transformation. Apparently this also was the case in the church of the Hebrew Christians, because the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells them how difficult it is to explain spiritual things to them because they have become dull of hearing, and need someone to teach them the elementary principles of the beginnings of the oracles of God.

CEV Heb 5:11-14  Much more could be said about this subject. But it is hard to explain, and all of you are slow to understand. By now you should have been teachers, but once again you need to be taught the simplest things about what God has said. You need milk instead of solid food. People who live on milk are like babies who don't really know what is right. Solid food is for mature people who have been trained to know right from wrong.

MKJV Heb 5:11-14  of Whom we have much to say, and hard to be explained since you are dull of hearing. For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food. For everyone partaking of milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
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This condition was apparently the case with the messenger of the ekklesia in Laodicea.  Jesus, in Revelation chapter 3, had this to say to this messenger:

YLT Rev 3:14-19  And to the messenger of the assembly of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the witness--the faithful and true--the chief of the creation of God; I have known thy [singular - mr. messenger] works, that neither cold art thou [singular] nor hot; I would thou [singular] wert cold or hot. So--because thou [singular] art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee [singular] out of my mouth; because thou [singular] sayest--I am rich, and have grown rich, and have need of nothing, and hast not known that thou art the wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, I counsel thee to buy from me gold fired by fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white garments that thou mayest be arrayed, and the shame of thy nakedness may not be manifest, and with eye-salve anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I do convict and chasten; be zealous, then, and reform.

I never realized that this message from Jesus was to the messenger of the ekklesia, not to the whole Christian group until several years ago.  We find that this messenger thought that he was rich and needed nothing, when in fact he was wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked!!!  Talk about delusions!  But I believe that we are all deluded unless we ask Jesus to save us from our delusions.  This, of course, requires the humility to perceive the possibility that we might be deluded.  I fear that many, like the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, are being wept over by Jesus as they fail to realize the extent of their delusions, their lack of basic fruits of God's Spirit, and their lust after gold and position and recognition by others.

Luke 13:34-35  Jerusalem! Jerusalem! the one killing the prophets, and stoning those having been sent to her; how often I desired to gather your children in the way a hen gathers her brood under the wings, and you did not desire it. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. And truly I say to you, You will not see Me until it come when you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

SUMMARY

Here is a list of spiritual gifts:

1 Cor 12:4-11  But there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are differences of workings, but it is the same God working all things in all. But to each one is given the showing forth of the Spirit to our profit. For through the Spirit is given to one a word of wisdom; and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to another faith by the same Spirit; and to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and to another workings of powers, to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; and to another kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues. But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each one as He desires.

And here is a list of spiritual fruits:

Gal 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Gal 5:24-26  But those belonging to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become glory-seeking, provoking one another, envying one another.

Do you, dear reader, belong to Christ?  Have you crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts?  This does not happen automatically to every one who receives Jesus into their hearts - it takes an act of faith to crucify the flesh.  How?  I suggest that you ask Jesus to tell you how.

1 Cor 6:19-20  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own,  for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

God is looking for unconditional surrender to Him and His will for you.  Have you surrendered to Him, or are you continuing in your rebellion against His rule in your life?  If the allies in World War II required unconditional surrender of their adversaries, how much more does God require unconditional surrender of us?