1 Corinthians 14: 26-40
26 Brothers and sisters, what should we say then? When you come together, every one of you brings something. You bring a hymn or a teaching or a word from God. You bring a message in another language or explain what was said. All of those things must be done to make the church strong. 27 No more than two or three people should speak in another language. And they should speak one at a time. Then someone must explain what was said. 28 If there is no one to explain, the speakers should keep quiet in the church. They can speak to themselves and to God. 29 Only two or three prophets are supposed to speak. Others should decide if what is being said is true. 30 What if a message from God comes to someone else who is sitting there? Then the one who is speaking should stop. 31 Those who prophesy can all take turns. In that way, everyone can be taught and be given hope. 32 Those who prophesy should control their speaking. 33 God is not a God of disorder. He is a God of peace. As in all the churches of God’s people, 34 women should remain silent in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak. They must follow the lead of those who are in authority, as the Law says. 35 If they have a question about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for women to speak in church meetings. 36 Did the word of God begin with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 Suppose some think they are prophets or have gifts of the Holy Spirit. They should agree that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 Anyone who does not recognize that will not be recognized. 39 Brothers and sisters, you should want to prophesy. And don’t stop people from speaking in languages they had not known before. 40 But everything should be done in a proper and orderly way.
Paul is very concerned about the chaos happening in the church meetings. People speaking over the top of one another and too many people exercising spiritual gifts and making the whole meeting loud and confusing. He instructs them that it is better if only one teaches, sings, prophesies, speaks in tongues and one interprets. He doesn’t forbid more than one of each participating, but says that they must take turns and that they should always have the goal of strengthening each other. Women in the church were very enthusiastic and hungry for understanding, but Paul also wanted them to be orderly and rather than calling out in the church, to ask their questions of their husbands at home.
God is not a God of disorder but of peace and this is what we should reflect in our church meetings. This isn’t to close down members who have gifts or prophesy to share, but to show respect to each other and to encourage ‘not yet believers’ who would be put off by confusing chaotic worship. Sometimes I am just busting to say something in church which I think The Lord is prompting, but I feel this passage saying that it is better to wait my turn or to say it to the people concerned at a more appropriate time. I love to see the spirit move and glorify God through individuals and build individuals up through his gifts, and this blesses the whole community as well.
Thank you Holy Spirit for bringing us the presence of God. Help us to use our gifts in ways which honour you, are up lifting to believers and demonstrate your peace. Guard our fellowship from anything which is boastful or not of you.
Written by Dimity Milne