“Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?“ – Vs 12 MSG
If you’re not careful, you could easily get hung up on all the talk about tongues and gifts in this chapter. Churches have split over interpretation of what Paul is saying. Arguments have been had. Friendships have been ended. But I think the real issue Paul is making has to do with the overall health of the body of Christ. Paul begins the chapter by commanding the Corinthians to “pursue love.” That is what chapter 13 was all about. The supremacy of love in all things. Now he tells them to chase after it. And while you’re loving one another, go ahead and pursue spiritual gifts, but always do it with love as the motivation. Even spiritual gifts can be used in unspiritual ways if we’re not careful. But if they are done in the context of sacrificial love, spiritual gifts can be powerful tools in the life of the church.
So Paul says it’s OK to be excited about your spiritual gift, but just remember that it’s not for you. It is for the rest of the body of Christ. So use it to build up others. Use it to encourage others in their spiritual walk with Christ. The actual definition for the Greek word translated “edifies” is the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness. That’s why the Holy Spirit gives us gifts. To promote one another’s spiritual growth and maturity. To use your gift selfishly is to act like a child. It is to be self-centered and self-absorbed. That’s why Paul says, “stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (Vs 20 NET). Quit thinking about your gifts with only your self in mind. Think of others.
When the church comes together, we are each to use our God-given gifts, but we are to remember to “Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church” (Vs 26 NET). We are to build up the body, not ourselves. We are to love others more than we love the recognition of our gifts or any blessing we might receive from using them. It’s as if Paul is telling us, “So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all” (Vs 26 MSG).
Father, show us how to love one another, even in the use of our gifts. They are Yours and You are only sharing them with us. Help us to give them away selflessly so that the body of Christ might grow and mature together. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men