Paul’s rule of thumb when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit is that they should always be preceded by love. Pursue Love, then eagerly desire spiritual gifts. That’s the order for Paul and it should be for us too. We are living in days where we are seeing incredible accuracy being restored to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and friends like Shawn Bolz are pioneering a new way in love, demonstrating the prophetic. The levels of accuracy that we see on display can often inspire, entertain and transform all at the same time. I do love it when a crowd listening to the prophetic words spoken over people in their community resonate with the details in that word and are often punctuated with ‘wow!’ or ‘that’s so accurate’. It really does leave us in awe of who God is.
If you are stepping out in your prophetic gift or are novices in words of knowledge it can be overwhelming. It can seem to be so out of reach to get the details so specific. I remember as a young man listening to and seeing some of the most accurate prophets prophesy over individuals with such stunning clarity it would take my breath away. It was in these contexts, though, that I sometimes saw some unhealthy practices around the prophetic. I noticed that often the emphasis was only on the accuracy of the word, no matter how it connected to the person or how vulnerable and exposed they felt. I saw some abuse in this context where the word shifted focus from awe at what God was doing, to being impressed with how the prophet was dramatising his or her gift.
I remember one particular set of meetings in England where I was moving in high levels of words of knowledge coupled with a number of miracles. I prophesied over 3 young men who had never been in church. After prophesying over them, one of them dropped an f-bomb and said to me, “Dude, are you like a physic or something?” Such was the accuracy. It did strike me that the only reference of power they had for what was happening was demonic (thank God those days are over as He is now releasing an army of sharp prophetic people).
As I left that meeting God spoke to me and asked me a question: Son, that was a good meeting, wasn’t it? I have come to learn that when God asks you a question, it’s not because He is looking for an answer. No, He is wanting to reveal something in your own heart. So I played it safe and simply agreed with God, thinking to myself, Yes! We saw salvations, healings and accuracy in the prophetic. He followed His question with a fatherly correction and said to me, Son, you were not moved by my compassion for those in the meeting. I discovered then what Paul meant by the possibility of having great displays of power but not having love. The bible says we sound like clanging symbols when we do not operate in love (1 Corinthians 13:1). Most often the sound of that clanging is not heard on Earth, but in Heaven.
People are impressed with power. Heaven is impressed with love.
When we strive to get more accurate in our words without understanding that the operating system of God’s kingdom is love, we move the focus away from Jesus to other things around us. You see, the greatest revelation we can bring people into is that God is love. That His love was fully displayed in the life, death, resurrection, accession and glorification of Jesus. That when we want to discover what God is like we look to Jesus and how he lived. What’s beautiful about pursuing love is that people get what you carrylong before they get what you say. If you have the measles, you can tell people that you have chickenpox, but they’ll still catch the measles.
A love focus removes performance and introduces authenticity.
Love does not need to look flashy. It does not need to be measured. It does not need to be ‘put together’. Love does not need to strive. Love does not always need correct articulation. What love does is it sees value in people because of the intrinsic worth and image-bearing nature of God in all people. And this is the beauty of our sonship, we get the privilege of loving people simply and authentically, from the overflow of love we have received from Him.
Look for moments that are more than sharing information about people lives. Look for the hook of love in the words you give people. When you do this, transformation happens. Shame is removed and hearts are opened. Pursue love. Eagerly desire prophetic gifts. Simple, but oh so powerful! His love is the demonstration of his power.