Previously we have been studying I Corinthians chapter 13 wherein the Apostle Paul emphasizes the need for Christians to remain focused on loving each other in the Spirit. All of the gifts of the Spirit are practically worthless if they are not administered with love. Fortunately, having love, and having these gifts is not an “either or” proposition. We can have both love and the gift of prophecy, or knowledge. The gift of knowledge or prophecy will puff up a person and make them arrogant if they practice it devoid of love, but such gifts should actually be desired as long as they are practiced with true brotherly affection:
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (I Corinthians 14:1 NIV)
Paul reminds us here to make the way of love our guiding principle in all things that we do. If we are dwelling in true love, than the gifts of the Spirit are no longer dangerous to us: they will not lead us into pride or arrogance. Therefore, Paul tells us to eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. The gift of prophecy that Paul is talking about here is not limited to predicting the future. “Prophecy” has a much broader definition in Biblical literature. An Old Testament prophet was simply a man who had a message directly from God for the people. The message would not necessarily include a prediction about the future. Therefore, in the contemporary context, I think a prophet is anyone who is directed by God to communicate a clear message to God’s people. The Bible itself will be the source of this message, since the canon of Scripture is closed. A modern prophet has a gift for explaining the Bible in a clear way so that it convicts the soul and communicates to the listener exactly what God demands of them.