Pursuit and desire

Posted: April 18, 2008 by Brian Andrews in Discipleship/Sanctification, Fatherhood, From the Heart, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests

No, this isn’t a post about dating! It’s about the practice of using the prophetic gift. I’m starting from the premise that the gift of prophecy continues today and is to be used for upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation of others (1 Cor. 14:3).

Paul instructs us to “pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1, ESV). I was really struck recently by the phrase “pursue love.” When I think of pursuing something, what comes to mind is chasing after it with all I’ve got. Even though the thing I’m after may be elusive, I can’t give up trying to get hold of it. That’s what we are called to do as far as loving people.

Being a public high school teacher, I have been really stretched in the area of love. Students have stolen from me, used profanity toward me and threatened me. (And that’s on a good day!) Often I have struggled with the “Jonah syndrome”: ‘God, send me anywhere but that classroom!’ Anger, frustration, and resentment build up because of the students’ behavior. I find it to be an hourly battle not to allow my heart to grow callused to them. But I know the Lord has me there for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to give them a glimpse of the Father’s love.

Pursuing love has taken on a very literal meaning when it comes to my students. I have to continually pray and ask others to pray for me that I would love these kids. I have to regularly release my anger and offense to God. I have to keep coming back to the example of Jesus, who loved those who despised and rejected Him.

But we are not only to pursue love, we are to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts especially prophecy. We must be careful not to so emphasize love that spiritual gifts become optional. There should be a longing in our hearts to operate in the gifts of the Spirit that others may be brought (closer) to Jesus. Some ways that we can “earnestly desire” the gifts are: reading Scripture and books by solid authors on the subject, watching others operate in the gifts, praying to receive the gifts, and praying for opportunities to use the gifts. We needn’t be afraid of the gifts if we have the foundation of love.

Yesterday, I had a difficult interaction with a student. He refused to comply with a request I gave him, so I initiated a disciplinary procedure. He was quite angry with me, and expressed that in no uncertain terms. When I got home, I felt that I did not quite have the foundation of love for this student that I should have had. (I had prayed for him in the past, and I felt the Lord had given me some insights into his life.) I prayed for him again, yesterday, that God would touch his life. I also prayed that God would give me His love for him.

Early this morning, this student (I’ll call him Devon) came to my classroom.

“Hi, Mr. Andrews,” he began. “I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted toward you yesterday. I wasn’t angry with you; I just took it out on you.”

I was really impressed by his gesture. “I forgive you, Devon,” I assured him. “Hey, I prayed for you yesterday.”
“Oh yeah, why?”
“I try to pray for all my students.”
“Oh.”

“Can I ask you a question, Devon?”
“Go ahead.”
“Are you disappointed with your father?”
Devon got a rather surprised look on his face and asked, “How did you know that? Have you been reading my files?”
“No, sometimes God shows me things.”
“Are you a psychic?”
“No, I’m a follower of Jesus.”

We continued talking a short while. I could see that God was working in him. We parted with a “man hug,” and I told him I’d see him later that day in class.

There were a couple of good reminders for me in that exchange. One was that God can use me even when I’m going through my own personal difficulties. The other was that when I pursue love, God will open doors for me to use spiritual gifts to minister to others.

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Comments
  1. Brian…thanks for your encouragement in the use of the gifts in all circumstances. I remember Gordon Fee once saying that the gifts shouldn’t operate in a “triumphant” fashion but are rather birthed in brokenness and weakness. God gave us the “charisma” because we are needy and they provide the necessary edification that we all so desperately need.

  2. Wayne Conrad says:

    I enjoyed your post and was surprised to find you in the Dallas area. I’m sure we share many beliefs in common. May God give you grace as you teach school. I teach at a community college.

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