1 Corinthians 14:1-12
14 Follow the way of love. You should also want the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Most of all, you should want the gift of prophecy. 2 Anyone who speaks in a language he had not known before doesn’t speak to people. He speaks only to God. In fact, no one understands that person. What he says with his spirit remains a mystery. 3 But anyone who prophesies speaks to people. He says things to make them stronger, to give them hope and to comfort them. 4 Those who speak in other languages build themselves up. But those who prophesy build up the church. 5 I would like all of you to speak in other languages. But I would rather have you prophesy. Those who prophesy are more helpful than those who speak in other languages. But that is not the case if those who speak in other languages explain what they have said. Then the whole church can be built up. 6 Brothers and sisters, suppose I were to come to you and speak in other languages. What good would I be to you? None! I would need to come with new truth or knowledge, or a prophecy or a teaching. 7 Here are some examples. Certain objects make sounds. Take a flute or a harp. No one will know what the tune is unless different notes are played. 8 Also, if the trumpet call isn’t clear, who will get ready for battle? 9 It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air. 10 It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. And they all have meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I am a stranger to that person. And that person is a stranger to me. 12 It’s the same with you. You want to have gifts of the Spirit. So try to do your best in using gifts that build up the church.
It seems to me that the motivation of this section is to encourage the church to “follow the way of love.” And for me, by inference, I sense that Paul is saying this comes down to seeking to always: strengthen, encourage and edify people (vs3); edify the church (vs4,5); bringing good to others in the form of revelation, knowledge, prophecy or words of encouragement (vs6); speak clearly and intelligibly to others, not in mysterious ways. And again, by inference, this is what the gifts of the Holy Spirit enable us to do.
For me, there is clear encouragement in these verses to seek the gifts of the Spirit, because they enable me to do the good that Paul encourages the Corinthians to seek to do to one another in the church. I want to be living in the way of love, and the gifts God graciously gives me enable me to do that. I am freshly encouraged to seek to follow the way of love as these verses describe towards my church family, and seek the Spirit’s enabling power and gifting to do so.
Lord, help me to lean upon your Holy Spirit to help me to follow the way of love in doing good to my church family, bringing words and actions that encourage, strengthen and edify your people. Help me to do this continually, as Paul encourages me to. Amen
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh