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Desiring the Best

Let's Be a Christ-centered Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The command from Paul is quite clear: Covet earnestly the best gifts!
Are we allowed to covet?
What makes one gift better than another?
Why would Paul tell this to the church in Corinth?
Most importantly, how do I make myself want something that I currently don’t really want?
#1 - The word “covet” means to desire eagerly - does not mean to idolize in this context.
#2 - The reason Paul is saying this is because the church in Corinth had begun to associate the Spirit’s indwelling (spirituality) based on the outworking of a particular gift.
This, unfortunately, had manifested that there were desires among the body that were less than the best. They were divided over who got to do what, based on gifting. Their desires seemed to be for the gift that garnered the most attention and that, they though, manifested the greatest spirituality!
Paul hits this straight on by commanding them to eagerly desire!
Application: Some might say, Well you can’t make me want to do what I don’t want to do! The truth is that our desires can to shaped! Our desires can be directed! You may not want something right now; but you can come to a point where you desire something that is healthy and wholesome!
There are truths that, when they are believed, should change the way you feel about something.
Illustration: Several years ago, we encouraged our children to go out and pick weeds. This is not a very inspiring responsibility but it was important. They would pick weeds, and I would ride around on a lawn mower and mow later. To help their desire along, we offered them pocket change for each weed. I believe our son made a killin’.
Unfortunately, this has crept into our churches. It seems that we leaders are constantly trying to find ways to inspire people to serve in less favorable ways. How do you shape your desire so that you want what God wants?

Proposition: So, I say to you this morning, desire the best! Want what God wants!

What are these truths, that when believed, they should change the desires of the heart?

(1) This is an eager desire because of personal accountability (v. 27)

Did you know that I was talking to you?
(i) The unity of he opening of the verse - “of Christ” -
(ii) The diversity of the end of the verse
This is a very simple verse to combat the possibility that some might be thinking that Paul is talking about someone else.


Our desires can be shaped when we believe that I am not called to any other organization in any like fashion. You are called to be a part of the BODY OF CHRIST.
Our desires can be shaped when we believe that particular membership is not about everyone else sitting around me; but it is about me.
It was encouraging that a couple of weeks ago, Todd Fluegge held a meeting for those who wanted to go to help in Public Bible school clubs, and there were around 20 people who volunteered.
It was encouraging that several weeks ago, we had a new set of teachers volunteer to help use their gifts/talents to teach 3 & 4 years olds on Sunday night.
This was not written for them! It was written for those who:
*haven’t gotten the message. It is a privilege to be a unique member of the body of Christ.
*it is a privilege to serve in a capacity that no one may ever see
*application to unbeliever too...
You are accountable, and this should shape your desire for what is best!
Ryrie’s Basic Theology E. Be Willing to Do Anything for God

One who is not dedicated will never discover all the abilities God has given him, nor will he fully develop those that he does discover.

(2) This is a desire because of divine activity (v. 28 - 30)

Does your life show that you’ve accepted God’s design?
(i) God has set some in the church - this should the philosophy behind a lot church hopping; this should eliminate the mindset of holding our membership hostage unless something preferential changes.
(ii) This list de-prioritizes what the Corinthians were elevating.
first apostles (sent ones)
The gift was given for the founding of the church and was accredited by special signs (; ).
The gift was given for the founding of the church and was accredited by special signs (; ).
Ryrie’s Basic Theology A. Apostleship (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)

The gift was given for the founding of the church and was accredited by special signs (2 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 2:20). This is not a gift that God gives today.

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (p. 429). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (p. 429). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
secondarily prophets (a proclaimer of divine message)
Ryrie’s Basic Theology B. Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:1–40; Eph. 4:11)

This, too, was a gift for the founding of the church, unnecessary after that period and after Revelation was written in the New Testament.

thirdly teachers (teaching, doctrine, instruction)
after that workers of miracles (a special sign or activity by God to cause awe and belief in the gospel message)
We know that sometimes God used human means to perform miracles.
Those same people, like Paul, were unable to perform miracles all fo the time.
There are times when miracles take place that have not human instrument as a channel. (i.e. the Virgin Birth…)
The necessity of a special sign like this today (through a human channel) when we have the complete Word of God is unnecessary, although we cannot rule out that God still performs miracles and healings today to draw attention to Himself.
then gifts of healings
Elymas the sorcerer would be a case where a miracle happened that was not a healing - thus healing is a type of miracle.
helps - this appears to be a reference to helping those who are without strength. (whether this is physical or financial service…etc)
governments - administration
diversities of tongues
Ryrie’s Basic Theology D. Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10)

Tongues is the God-given ability to speak in a language of earth that is unknown to the speaker. Interpretation of tongues is the ability to interpret that message in a language understood by the hearers. Unquestionably the first occurrence of tongues in Acts 2 was languages (note the word “language” in vv. 6 and 8). The presumption is that the tongues in Corinthians were no different.

(iii) This list establishes God’s intentional diversity (v. 29 - 30)
Since all who were in the church could not speak tongues, it should be noted that speaking in tongues is not a sign of salvation.
Paul is once again driving at the fact that the members of the church must come to realize that this is God’s design, and either they will accept God and what He as done or they will reject.
Either their desires will be shaped by God’s sovereign will, or they will declare their own sovereign will based on their desires.


Some are waiting for God to put a desire in their hearts; when the fact that God has already put you here is sufficient for you to recognize God’s sovereignty.
Some are waiting for God to make clear what you should be doing as part of the body, but you are not recognizing what God has already done.
Some are waiting for some supernatural working to take place where you know you can do something that will make you feel happy; but you are not looking at the supernatural work that God has already done to make you part of his body.
Some are saying, God if you will show me, I will go and serve; but what you don’t realize is that God already has shown you by making you part of the body.
Some of you are thinking, I will only do this because that’s what I know how to do, but you are not realize that you are flaring up your will towards God. Who will you serve? Who is the One who put you here? Dare we tell God what to do?
I had a teenager one time come to tell me a story of how he determined whether God was encouraging him to play basketball. He was talented for sure, but he was unsure if he wanted to keep playing. He had the money. He had the opportunity. He told me this great story of how he knew God wanted him to play because God provided a brand new pair of tennis shoes for him....
Many believers are doing this. They have the means and opportunity but they are waiting for God to do something miraculous! He did! You’re here!
You desire should be shaped by your personal accountability and by divine activity.

(3) This is a desire for corporate profitability (v. 31)

Do you desire what is best for the body?
This answers the question of “What makes a gift the best?” What makes one gift better than the other. There are really only a few options here:
#1 - Either Paul is saying they are best because of the payment opportunity
#2 - Paul is saying they are the best because of the recognition opportunity
#3 - Paul is saying they are the best because of the edification opportunity
If you guessed #3, then you are correct. What makes a gift the best is whether it builds up others or not. See .


This means that you don’t serve because you get a good feeling out of it. You serve because others get the benefit out of it.
Have you ever ridden the train at Kings Island or Dollywood in TN? Sometimes the lines can get long, and they run the trains at certain times. When they finally allow you to go and attempt to get on the train, we all rush to try to get the best unimpeded seat where we won’t have to share with anyone else. This seems to be how we approach the body. We want the most convenient, and the best for us and it really doesn’t matter who else is on the train as long as our family gets our bench.
How about instead of saying that this body exists for you, we take the approach that we exist for this body. You and I should desire eagerly the gifts that will edify the most.
This means that we will take seriously our accountability to God.
This means that we will take seriously the activity of God.
Closing Illustration:
When we see Jesus hanging upon the cross we note a man who knew his accountability. We note a man who knew God’s sovereign activity, and we see a man who desire what was best for His sheep.

Closing Questions:

What do you want?
As an unbeliever, do you want to be part of the precious body of Christ? Do you want life eternal? Do you want to be part of an institution that is governed by this doctrine?
Do you want what is best for the body?
As a believer, is your desire shaped by your personal accountability?
Who is sovereign in what you want?
Who is sovereign in what you want?
As a believer, is your desire shaped by God’s divine activity?
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