Yep – another late one. No excuses.
Psalm 140-142 1 Corinthians 14:1-20
“The ones who speak in different languages are helping only themselves, but those who prophesy are helping the whole church.” (1 Corinthians 14:4 NCV)
After noting that each gift had a purpose, and that the most important part of gifts was using them in love, Paul recognized that people still wanted certain gifts. The “cool” gift was the one where people spoke languages they didn’t know. That was one of the original gifts – going all the way back to the days of Pentecost. The difference was that then, the gift of languages was used to proclaim the gospel, the Corinthians understood this gift to mean a private prayer language of sorts. As Paul explained, this private language might benefit you, but teaching, prophecy, benefitted the whole church. The important thing about these gifts from God was that the church would grow as people used them.
When a person’s concerned about building the church, everything they do is based on love. When a person’s more concerned with building themselves up, that comes from arrogance. They see themselves as individuals being more important than the church as a whole. In the west, we’ve taken individualism and made it a religious tenet, if not a separate religion. We admire the rugged individualist who succeeds against all odds. We shouldn’t glorify individualism as a positive quality in the church, though. Paul wouldn’t have understood that. He would have been puzzled that people would be worried about living their best life now, instead of being willing to sacrifice anything, and everything for the sake of the gospel. He wouldn’t have understood the idea that a person can worship God by fishing on the lake just as well as he could by fellowshipping with God’s people. The call of God on our lives includes the call to build up the church – the people of God. The word “ecclesia” is the Latin word for church. A similar Greek word referred to the political assembly of citizens in Greece. The Latin word means the ones called out and refers to the church. We don’t “do church” by ourselves for two reasons: the first is that church is a noun, not a verb; the second is that it’s a plural noun. The Church is built around fellowship with God, with each other, and serving God by serving His people and meeting needs. God calls us to use our gifts to build up the church. Let’s do that every day.
Lord, WE are Your church. Remind me that I am not alone in serving You. Let me use my gifts to build up other Christians. Let all that I do bring honor to Your name and make the Church that much stronger.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.