(1 Corinthians 14:5 ESV) Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
What is Paul talking about? He’s talking about speaking in tongues and prophesying! And he wanted the church in Corinth to participate in both of these spiritual gifts. Isn’t this interesting? There even appears to be a hierarchy. There is a stipulation. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets. Does this then mean that if the one who speaks in tongues is interpreted, than the one who speaks in tongues is higher? What about he one who interprets? Where is he/she in the staircase of spiritual giftings? This is a topic that can be discussed to various ends.
The end is really the key point to verse, which says, “so that the church may be built up.” Isn’t this interesting? It is all for the church. Not for SFCBC, specifically, but for the Church. The purpose of the spiritual gifts is for the building up of the body of believers and not for the individual. In other words, all that we do should edify the church. Romans 14:19 (NIV), says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Indeed, we are called to build up the church, which is a difficult undertaking. There will be fellow brothers and sisters that we do not agree with in theology, in politics, in personality, in how they teach (at church in the home), in opinion, and a whole host of other possibilities. Yet we are to do what leads to mutual edification and to peace. Let us apply the gifts of exhortation, mercy, help, teaching, knowledge and wisdom.
Secondly, when we do consider a person’s gifting, let us be cautious of whether we are evaluating if a person has the gifting or if we are comparing a person’s gifting what that of someone else. If we are fostering an attitude of divisiveness, we must stop. We are not seeking peace. As we consider the spiritual gifts each member of the body Christ has, we will do well with a biblical mindset that incorporates many of the gifts that are directly connected to “peace and mutual edification”. These are spiritual gifts that are often left by the wayside. Learn to apply them well!