In Corinth there were some people who needed instruction concerning the use of tongues and prophecy. It’s possible some were out of control in exercising their gifts. It’s also possible that some were using their gifts for themselves rather than the building up of the church. In these situations Paul addresses the appropriate use of both by explaining that no matter what, they should build up the church of God. In Corinth, that meant exercising the gifts that were to the benefit of the whole church, like prophecy, “one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” Speaking in tongues had it’s place, but it wasn’t central to believers edifying believers.
How conscientious am I about how I use my gifts to edify the body? Paul says, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” The Spirit’s gifted me for a reason. What I am doing with that gift? Am I seeking to encourage the hearts of those Christians around me? Do I look for ways to fortify our congregation? Am I using my mind and looking for ways to love?
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” May that be true for us. The way we do church is a reflection of the God who loves us. Rather than using our gifts in ways that benefit ourselves only, let’s uphold each other with our gifts in love. Together, God will continue to shape this church into something beautiful for his purpose and glory.