Today we read 1 Corinthians ch 14 which completes the Apostle’s message about Spirit Gifts. Paul is earnestly exhorting them to properly use the spirit gifts they were privileged to possess. The first verse stresses, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” Prophecy does not mean to predict the future but to speak to and on behalf of God; to be God’s representative among men, which may, on occasion include warnings and predictions about the future, it certainly did with Jeremiah.
Today we read Jeremiah’s Lamentations: they were written after the terrible fall and destruction of Jerusalem. He laments in his first chapter,, “how she (Jerusalem) took no thought of her future, therefore her fall is terrible … O LORD, behold my affliction …”[v.9] His intimate relationship with God is an example for us. As with Jeremiah, it will sustain us if we are alive when the “fall” of our world takes place, for it is going to be “terrible.” It will be essential to have a true relationship with God and his Son for they will deliver all who possess this – as we will read tomorrow in the final 9 verses of ch. 15 in 1 Corinthians.
Paul challenges the believers in Corinth, “do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” [14 v.20] . They are keen to use the “gifts” God’s Spirit created in them, so he tells them, “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” [v.12] and, as we saw yesterday, they should “earnestly desire the higher gifts.” [12 v.31]
In today’s chapter Paul makes it plain that the least of the gifts, “tongues” which are mentioned last, should not be used. It is unwise to use them in church, “they are a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers” [v.22] as on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2 v.5-11). Paul says, “If therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say you are out of your minds?”[v.23] But those who prophesy, that is, preach God’s word, as Jeremiah did to those in Jerusalem, and an “outsider enters, he is convicted” (in his thinking) and “the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” [v.24,25]
Do we have “secrets” in our hearts we wrestle with? May all our “thinking be(come) mature” so that we fully realize that God and the Saviour are really among us, if we invite them! Look at 2nd Corinthians, on Wednesday we will read, “God who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness.’ Has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” [4 v,6] May we more fully “let light shine .. in our hearts.””