Read This Week: 1 Corinthians 14
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. – 1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV
The “building up” of other people seems to be an exception more than a rule these days. We live in a climate where everyone can express their opinion no matter how unfair, cruel, or uninformed. We exist in a culture where every mistake is sensationalized to a hyperbolic plane, and worst of all, we seem to banner criticism way more than compliments.
To build up another person is to talk to or about them in a very positive way; to make someone healthier or stronger. The writer, Jim Stovall, once said this about building people up, “We need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.” Imagine a relationship, team, or community that does all of these things to and for one another. It would be healthy, affirming, and an empowering place to exist, work and do life. Everybody would win.
This encouraging type of environment is what Paul wanted for the churches in Corinth as he wrote chapter 14. He spends a majority of the section discussing spiritual gifts and their proper application in public worship and community. There were some in the church losing control of themselves as they used their gifts. Others were trying to put their gifts above all the others. Paul recognizes this and concludes this part of his letter with a reminder that all of the gifts are for one purpose – edification.
Edification in this context is the Greek word, oikodomē, which means the act of building up and promoting another’s growth in Christian wisdom, happiness, and holiness. The mistake the Corinthians were making and that we make, is to focus only on our gifts, growth, and edification while neglecting the building up of others. We often want to build ourselves up and for others to use their gifts to our benefit, yet we fail to use our lives and gifts to build up fellow believers. This omission in relationships and the church is not how God designed it and should never be the case.
The Lord is saying to us that we all have something to bring to the table. We all have gifts, talents, and abilities that He will use for his glory and the good of others. We must not only be interested in being built up personally but with whatever we offer – a song, teaching, word of encouragement, an act of service, an expression of a gift – build up and strengthen others as they do life with God. This passage ultimately teaches us that everything must be done so that the church may be built up. May we act accordingly.
When I think of all that God does for us, it is overwhelming. How much He loves us and takes care of us. He is truly a good, good father. He gives us gifts, talents, resources, time and so much more. It’s up to you and me to desire God and seek God and develop, rather than squander what He has given. It is the responsibility of the receiver to appreciate and share with others what God has given.
Acknowledging God in all of your ways, and appreciating God as your provider, and sharing with others from what God has given you, is the way to keep the flow from God to you going. For Christians, it works like this: we get what we need from God and share it with others. If you need, give. We seek what we need from God and by giving, we get what we need from God. We can not out-give God. So, desire God and His gifts. Develop and give them to others freely. Your time, talents, treasures, gifts, ministry, love and friendship. God will give you what you need. Keep the flow going.
One final note, for me, I have found by using my gifts for others and giving to others from what God has given me, is a big part of finding fulfillment in life. Try it, you will like it. Jesus says: “Love God and love others.” This is a great way to do both.
I couldn’t agree more, Ken. It is truly overwhelming to think of all the benefits, privileges and blessings that we have and enjoy in Christ. When we consider all of it, how could we not give back to the Lord and others? That is a privilege and honor as well. The first paragraph of your comment made me think of the lyrics of the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”:
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).”
What God was showing me in 1 Corinthians 14:1 is that at some point in your relationship with Him you may want to ask Him to help you more and more every day to not only keep love in your heart for others but to look for ways to help others. Seek it and eagerly pursue it. Have a strong desire to do more and more for God, for your brothers and sisters in the Lord and those God puts on your heart. Use the gifts He has giving you. If you don’t know them ask Him what they are.
In verse 3 it says to speak to others for upbuilding help others with constructive spiritual progress and encourage them. When I looked up the word encouragement it says the action of giving someone support, confidence, inspire, encourage to keep going, and more. God is saying to us through this I’m looking for people who will not only ask for my help, guidance, I’m looking for those who will be my hands, my voice, my help use their gifts I’ve given them to look for people who need encouraging, lifted up, built up, take the time to teach my will and My ways. That’s very important! If they don’t receive my teachings, My lessons, what I Am all about, keep seeking for those who is responding to My Live for them, when you find them do all you can to help them, bless them, encourage them, guide them to Me. Never forget I love you and I love everyone!
What that means to me is to take everything God has given you, use your gifts to teach what God’s divine will and purpose are for them. Use your gifts to inspire, to encourage, be excited because Our Father in heaven is the best Father and I’m so thankful for what Jesus and the Holy Spirit does for us every day.
I love this part of your comment, Heidi: “Keep love in your heart for others, but also look for ways to help others. Seek it and eagerly pursue it. Have a strong desire to do more and more for God, for your brothers and sisters.”
We hear so much about loving others but often we don’t hear about how to love others. It is one thing to have love in your heart for people, which is good, but it is another thing to do as you said, “look for ways to help others. Seek it and eagerly pursue it. Have a strong desire…” The desire, pursuit, and application of our gifts and that love is truly what makes a difference and that is what we need more of.
Thank you for reinforcing this truth and encouraging us to be proactive in our love for God and other people. It is much needed.
In 1st Corinthians 14, the following is what God was showing me: Desire spiritual gifts, but your main pursuit should be love. Prophecy is not identical to preaching. With the gift of tongues, it addresses Me and not men. The gift of prophecy is directed to others. I am speaking supernaturally through people to people. A word of prophecy builds someone up and encourages them. It will also strengthen someone and not weaken them.
If there are tongues, there must be an interpretation, so that there can be edification. When you gather together at church or in a group, you come to participate, and give to one another, not to passively receive. Come to church with a heart to build up someone else. Worship and word should be the focus. The gifts flow under My direction around the focus of worship and the word. If you have a right heart, you are encouraged to keep stepping out in faith and trusting Me that I want to use you.
What this said to me is that we all have gifts that God wants to use in us. We are to build up and encourage others. Each gift we have is equally important in the kingdom. Don’t waste your gifts.
I appreciate your insight and commentary on 1 Corinthians 14, Kathy. This part of your comment stood out: “When you gather together at church or in a group, you come to participate, and give to one another, not to passively receive. Come to church with a heart to build up someone else.”
We live in such a consumer society and sometimes that attitude and posture make its way into the church. We would rather sit and consume than serve and contribute to God’s kingdom. Your exhortation to use our gifts and not just “passively receive” is a relevant message the church needs to hear. Thank you for sharing what the Lord laid on your heart.
I got mine from 1 Corinthians chapter 14 Verse 1 and God is saying me to not underestimate what love can do. Love is God eternal and His Love can renew. Love can breathe new meaning and give it back new life. Love is always worth it no matter how much the price. Love is much stronger when you trust in Me.
What that means to me is to let God have full reign; let Him live within your heart and then you will know true love.
“Love is always worth it no matter how much the price.” That is a powerful and impactful statement from your comment, Jeri. It is always worth it to give and express love. It can change everything in a situation, relationship or community. Love withheld fails to give God glory, it makes the heart sick and can negatively affect others.
I’m thankful, as I know you are, that God expressed His love in Jesus no matter the price. That he “extended his love to us while we were sinners.” (Romans 5:8)