God’s word makes it plain that each of us is placed within the body as He desires and that He is gifting each of us for the common good. We are discovering that love is to be the overall driving principle for using our gifts within the Body.
None of us should be thought of as noisy gongs and clanging cymbals, out of tempo and off beat from the rest of the Church. It is only as we pursue love that we are brought together in harmony as the Church. It is not easy, nor do I believe that it was meant to be easy, it is in our struggles and challenges that, together, we mature and grow. And it is in this love, His love, that we are to mature and grow. That can only happen as we meet together as the Church.
Love is to be the overall guiding principle, the most excellent way, for using our God given abilities, talents, and spiritual gifting. Love is mentioned at the end of each of the lists of gifting and we are told that love is to be sincere and active, that we are to speak the truth in love, and that love is the most excellent way.
In fact, our unity as a congregation, and our unity as part of His Church, is tied to our love for one another. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, tells us of the love that we are to have here in chapter 13 and he started 14 with the same thought: “Pursue love.”
We must set aside our petty differences, our hurts, our offenses, and pursue the life of love that we are called to as the Church, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Are you willing to stir up one another to love, to seek to love those that are different, those that have said and/or done things in the past, and accept them for who they are now, just as Christ did, and does, with you? Are you willing to try to grow and change, and in the process, help others to do so as well? Encouraging others to love and good works?
That is love in action. Running or refusing to be a part of a congregation because so and so is there, or might be there, is stunting your growth and hindering or crippling the local congregation, and in that hindering all of God’s Church, in what we are called to be and do.
13:10 – The day is drawing near… The Perfect is coming… Are you prepared?
Prophesying, tongues, and knowledge will come to an end when Jesus returns. There will be no need of man telling you what God has said, no need for different languages, no more need of knowledge, because, in heaven, we will be one in perfection.
While we are told to desire spiritual gifts, and especially that we may prophesy, we are never told to seek a specific gift to the exclusion of others, only to seek the giver, the Holy Spirit, who gives the gifts as He determines.
Again, the gifting of God is not restricted to the lists we have, but all gifts are given for the common good of His Church and there is no one gift that determines salvation. All the gifts are of God and to be used where God has called you.
We are to desire the greater gifts, especially prophesy, since the speaking of God’s Word strengthens, encourages, consoles, and builds up the Church, as verses 3 and 4 tell us. But the diversity of gifts God gives us here is according to His plan for our congregation. His plan is not complete without you being an active part of the congregation where you are called to serve.
Tongues has been an issue within the Church for a long time, even back then in the Corinthian church, and that is addressed right here. I truly believe that here we all speak the same native tongue: English. The giving of the gift of languages is for the common good of the Church, to spread the Gospel, just as it was at Pentecost. All gifts are given for the common good, that the Church may be built up. If a “spiritual gift” is causing division or is only being used for self-edification then we need to do what 1 John 4:1 tells us and test the spirits.
- Who gives the gifts and why?
- Do you think it is important to meet together?
- Why or why not?
Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11-13, 18, 27, 31, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, John 17:20-26, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 12, Romans 13:8-10, Colossians 3, Hebrews 10:24-25
Spiritual Gifts: Romans 12:3-10, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Ephesians 2:9-10, Ephesians 4:11-15
For the guidance of love see Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 13, and Ephesians 4:15