“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!