READ: 1 Corinthians 14
BACKGROUND: This is a complex chapter that often divides opinion within the life and practice of the church. I could write pages and pages of “background” for this one which outline my particular understanding of the issues. Instead, the THINK section will be a summary of the big idea of the passage and I’d encourage you to post any questions – or anything you’d like further discussion on – in a comment at the end of the post.
THINK: Pastor John Piper sums up the big idea of this passage like this: “Paul is concerned that the gift of tongues is being abused in public so that people are speaking what nobody can understand. He is not rejecting the gift of tongues. But he is putting something way above it in the Christian assembly. He is saying that edification comes not by amazement at miracles, but edification comes by the understanding of God. That’s why verse 19 says that five intelligible words that help you understand God are better than a thousand unintelligible words that make you tremble with amazement.
Paul is extremely zealous that public speaking (whether prayer or preaching) be an event of group understanding and group agreement – not one person doing his own thing and others boggled. Not even one person doing his own thing and others understanding and silent. What then? His answer is just beneath the surface in verses 15-16:
What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?”
We are called to community as Christians, and the gifts that God gives us are intended to be used to encourage one another and to build community and to foster unity so that we may grow in faith together!
ASK: How am I using my gifts to build up my faith community? What are some other ways that I could use my gifts to do that?
PRAY: Ask God to show you how he wants to use you to bless others and promote community in your church.