1 Corinthians 14 completes the Apostle’s message about Spirit Gifts. Paul is exhorting them to use the spirit gifts they were privileged to possess properly. The first verse stresses, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy”. Prophecy does not mean to predict the future but to speak to and on behalf of God; to be God’s representative among men, which may, on occasion include warnings and predictions about the future.
Today we read Jeremiah’s Lamentations: they were written after the terrible fall and destruction of Jerusalem. He laments, “how she [Jerusalem] took no thought of her future, therefore her fall is terrible … O LORD, behold my affliction …” (Lam 1:9). His intimate relationship with God is an example for us. As with Jeremiah, it will sustain us if we are alive when the fall of our world takes place, for it is going to be terrible. It will be essential to have a true relationship with God and His Son for they will deliver all who possess this.
Paul challenges the believers in Corinth, “do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (14:20). They are keen to use the gifts of God’s Spirit, so he tells them, “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (verse 12) and “earnestly desire the higher gifts” (12:31).
Paul makes it plain that the least of the gifts, “tongues”, should not be used. It is unwise to use them in church, “they are a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers” (verse 22) as on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). Paul says, “If therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say you are out of your minds?” (verse 23). But those who prophesy, that is, preach God’s word and an “outsider enters, he is convicted” (in his thinking) and “the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (verses 24,25).
Do we have secrets in our hearts? May all our “thinking be mature” so that we realize that God and the Saviour are among us, if we invite them! In 2 Corinthians we read, “God who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness.’ Has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). May we “let light shine … in our hearts”.