#DailyDevotion Seek The Gifts Of Service
1 Corinthians 14:12b–20
Strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
I wonder how people get so confused concerning spiritual gifts when they read 1 Corinthians. It’s like they completely miss the point of Paul talking about them at all. I guess we all like the fantastic, the special, and the out of the ordinary. But what is Paul’s purpose in mentioning them at all? He says, “Strive to excel in building up the church.”
If there are any special gifts of the Spirit given to any individual, they are not given so that person can say, “Look at me!” They are not given to be lorded over others who have different spirituals given them for the edification of the church. They are not given so people can say, “If you don’t have such and such a gift, i.e. speaking in tongues, you really don’t have faith.” Even the most fantastical of gifts are given to serve other members of the congregation, building them up in the faith and making the congregation stronger.
So Paul previously talked about gifts without love being of no use. Now he is particularly talking about a gift of speaking in tongues which is fairly in vogue today. I have had few experiences in this matter where those ‘speaking in tongues’ actually listened to Paul at this point. They speak when there is no one to interpret. They don’t pray for the gift of interpretation. There are full bore, not in decently or in order towers of Babel at these worship services. Some of them are even faking it. According to Paul’s lesson here, those speaking are not edified. Those listening are not edified. It is contrary to the Spirit of God.
So what should we do? Ask God to give us the ability to speak five intelligible words about Jesus. We should outgrow our childish thinking of ‘look at me’ and ‘how can you serve me’ and instead be mature in our thinking. Instead we should be saying, ‘Look at you! Thanks be to God!” We should be asking “How can I serve my fellow Christians in this place?” This is pleasing to God and certainly a manifestation of the Spirit our Father in heaven is looking for in us.
Paul calls us to be infants in evil but mature in our thinking. Big, gross sins should not mark our lives. Sins that involve contemplation and planning should not be manifest in our lives. But planning on doing good, serving others and the like should be the hallmark of our Christian walk.
Heavenly Father, grant unto us those manifestations of the Spirit that build up your Church, strengthen our fellow believers that your Son Jesus Christ may receive the glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.