“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit,
Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
(1 Cor 14.1, 26b, 40)
“If you want to work out the implications of ch 13 in your life and in the life of your church, read ch 14. Really, I think ch 14 could be called the ‘love chapter’ as much as ch 13. Consider: In 14:3-5, Paul judges the worth of something by whether it edifies others. In 14:12, he encourages the Corinthians to excel in gifts that build up the church. In 14:17, he again expresses a concern for edifying others. In 14:19, he measures the gifts by whether they edify others. In 14:26, he says everything in the church must be done for the strengthening of the church. In 14:31, he says prophecy should be devoted to the instruction and encouragement of everyone. In ch 14, Paul basically says, ‘Let me give you a practical example of what I mean by the kind of love described in ch 13.’
When was the last time you attended church with the edification of others the primary concern on your heart? Or do you usually anticipate what you personally will find most helpful, like whether a hymn or prayer moves you, or whether you get out on time…?” (Mark Dever, The Message of the NT)
Let’s pray that we would go to church with a different perspective!
Let’s worship the Lord as we sing this song, “Jesus, Only You” (click here)
Worship is for the Lord. We are not in the audience to judge and critique the performance. God is the only audience. We are the performers!
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy… Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14.1, 26b).
Chapter 14 is about putting love into action in the context of worship. As we follow the way of love, we enthusiastically pursue the grace-gifts of the Spirit, most of all prophecy… but whatever it is that we do in/for worship… pray, serve, teach, greet, sing… it must be done so that the church may be built up.
We don’t gather for worship to see what we can get out of it. We’re coming together to build… to build up the church. Imagine assembling a toolbox. What tools are essential? A hammer, screwdriver, drill? To build up the church, we need the grace-gifts of the Spirit. Apostle Paul exhorts the believers to “excel in [the gifts] that build up the church” (14.12). Some of these effective “tools” could be singing a hymn, teaching a lesson, providing insight, leading a prayer, or prophesying (14.26-27).
When the church is being built up, it also benefits the seekers who join us… “They will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” (14.25). Let’s pray to build up the church!
Let’s begin today by singing “Christ is Risen” (click here). May we be in awe of the risen Lord!
It is because of the risen Lord we know what love is; His love displayed on the cross for us. It is with the risen Lord we are to follow this way of love.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” 1 Cor 14.1
Following this way of love leads to enthusiastically pursuing the Spirit’s gifts for the church. And if we really love our church and want the best for her, we’ll especially desire prophecy. People tend to think prophets are those who predict the future while spooky music is playing in the background. The biblical understanding of a prophet is quite different. John Calvin describes it like this:
“Let us, then, by ‘prophets’ in this passage understand, first of all, eminent interpreters of Scripture, and farther, persons who are endowed with no common wisdom and dexterity in taking a right view of the present necessity of the Church, that they may speak suitably to it, and in this way be, in a manner, ambassadors to communicate the divine will.” (Calvin’s Commentary on Corinthians)
Basically, prophets are those who… 1. Interpret Scripture 2. Discern the actual needs of the church 3. Communicate God’s will/heart for His people. “[T]he one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (1 Cor 14.3). Don’t we need more strengthening, encouraging and comfort? Pray for prophecy!
1 Corinthians 14.1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit…”
Following the way of love, our thinking changes from “What do I get out of worship?” to “What can I give in worship?” We don’t give of ourselves but give the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit provides the gifts as we do the giving. Isn’t that amazing?
When we talk about spiritual gifts, we tend to think about our talents. We may be good at crafts, so we desire to use these talents for VBS. We may be good at singing, so we assume that we should be on the worship music team. And then if we are not recognized, utilized or appreciated for these talents, we become discouraged or disgruntled.
Many times, in the New Testament, when it talks about spiritual gifts, the word in the original includes the word “grace.” These spiritual gifts are actually “manifestations of grace”—God giving us doses of His grace as we love one another. From God’s perspective, He sees what the church needs, then releases His grace upon the community so that those needs can be met. If the church needs healing, someone will receive the grace-gift of healing to administer. If the church needs teaching, someone will receive the grace-gift of teaching, etc. This distribution of the grace-gifts is overseen by the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12). Let’s follow the way of love and pray eagerly for more gifts of the Spirit in our church!
Chapter 14 opens with “Follow the way of love…” The love extolled in chapter 13, the most excellent way, the love that makes us something, that gives meaning and value to everything we do, the love that is beneficent, graceful, celebratory, the love that never gives up, never fails, never expires. This is the most excellent way!
Chapter 14 is about putting love into practice in the context of worship. What is disruptive to worship? We try to provide the best environment in which to encounter God. We minimize distractions—jarring noises, unpleasant odors, uncomfortable seating, lack of direction, etc.
In Corinth, the worship was chaotic—people speaking in different languages and prophesying one on top of another. People who wanted to know more about God were left confused and neglected. The Corinthians were enthralled with their own spiritual experiences and acumen. The root issue to their problem was an undue preoccupation with self. Their primary concern was self-expression and what they could get out of worship.
Disruptive behavior in worship is characterized by an inordinate focus on self, self-expression or personal experience as opposed to a fitting preoccupation with God and the people of His church. Self-focus is the biggest disruption to our worship, the biggest hindrance to people seeking God.
Rather than thinking, “What do I get out of worship?” Let’s follow the way of love. “What can we give to God? What can we give to our brothers and sisters in worship today?” Pray on that!
“The two verbs “believes” and “hopes” of course foreshadow the conclusion of the chapter, in which faith and hope join love as the abiding marks of Christian character. And the final verb (“endures”) creates an inclusio with the first item in verse 4 (“Love is patient”) and suggests the eschatological location of love in the present time: love persists in a hostile world, awaiting the coming of the Lord. The hyperbole of the repeated “all things” in verse 7 should not lead us to think that love is infinitely credulous and utterly indiscriminate in its believing and hoping. Love does not make its adherents into foolish Pollyannas. Paul’s point is accurately conveyed by the NEB’s translation: “there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.” Hays, Richard B.. First Corinthians: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (p. 228).
Prayer: Thank you for the love that always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. We ask that as we are being transformed together in the church, may we be your instruments to display this love to others. May those we are reaching out to, experience this quality of love that only comes from you: the love with no limit to faith, hope and endurance. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Here is a remix of the song “Beauty” (written by Jason Park) by Epaphras & Chelle. As you follow along, let’s join in asking that we would behold Him more and be transformed into the likeness of His Son. (To listen click here)
1 Corinthians 12:31b; 13:1-3 NIV And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
There is a remake nowadays of the popular “The Gong Show” from the 70’s where contestants perform acts (stranger the better) and if the judges were not entertained they would hit this large gong to stop the act and send them away! We don’t know what exact type of “gong” Paul had in mind when equating that sound with the practice of gifts of the Spirit without love, but one thing for certain is the expectation that he would never hear such a noise! The goal of this illustration was for the practice of edifying one another in love to continue among the people of God and never to inhibit its use. The wonderful gift of prophecy, the faith that will bring healing, and all the gifts that God gave to the church are essential in this day and age to build up so that the church can become even more the display of God’s glory and witness in our generation.
Prayer: Let’s pray that each of us in the church would grow in His love as we minister to another with the gifts that the Spirit gives. Especially, let’s continue to pray for healing over one another so that we will be built up for His service, for His glory.
Song: Here is an older song by Delirious? “Shout to the north”, (click here)let’s sing together.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV) 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
“In thanking them all for their “work produced by faith” (probably Christian service) and “labor prompted by love” (probably manual labor), Paul is thus offering genuine thanks for those among them who are doing this very thing, even though for others it will be a matter needing correction. Thus rather than thanking God for them with Christian platitudes, Paul is in fact giving thanks for things that are both at work among them and at the same time need some correcting or bolstering. Fee, Gordon D. 1 Thessalonians (NICNT) (p. 26).
Prayer: Let’s thank God for the love that the Father has poured out on our churches, that we can experience the work of faith, the labor of love and the endurance together to hope for His glory. Let’s ask the Lord for even more of these works among us! Let’s keep at it!
Song: Here’s another oldie that many in the church used to sing in the early days. Not to just bring back memories, but the heart of prayer is right on! Shine Jesus Shine, (click here) written by Graham Kendrick.
Galatians 5:5-6 (NIV) 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
“Faith expressing itself through love” thus forges a strong link between the so-called theological section of the letter and the so-called ethical section. Paul’s argument may thus be more continuous than we have sometimes recognized: throughout the letter he focuses on the sufficiency of the Spirit and faith for the “righteousness” that counts before God. Those who are “in Christ” by faith need to live by faith, a faith that produces works of love pleasing to God through the Spirit; and it is by living in this way that people can have a sure hope of righteousness” Douglas J. Moo, Galatians, Baker, p. 331.
Prayer: let’s pray this for ourselves and for the church, that as we continue to grow in the expression of our faith through love, that the body of Christ will be built up and edified more and more.
Song: This is an old but goodie by our own rxn, Labor of Love (To listen click here)
1 John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
“This, of course, is what we already are: we are children of God, we live in the light, and we are free from sin. John does not state explicitly in what new ways we shall be like Jesus at the parousia. But we may assume that the privileges which we now enjoy in a partial manner will then be ours fully and completely. Not only so, but we may also recollect that our hope is to see Jesus in his glory and therefore our hope is to share his glory, a hope that is clearly expressed by Paul.” – Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, NICNT, p.172.
Prayer: Let’s pray for ourselves and the church, that as we hold to the hope of glory, we will continue to grow in the love of the Father to be made more like Jesus every day.
Song: Let’s worship the Lord with this song by Matt Redman, (click here)“One Day.”