by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: 1 Corinthians 14:18-40; Psalm 78:1-31
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
1 Corinthians 14:19 “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Paul told the church in Corinth that he was given the gift to speak in tongues more than all of them. However, even with such a gift, he would rather “speak five words with his mind to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Corinth, it seemed that the church cherished the “manifestation of the spirit” where one of such “manifestations” could be the speaking of tongues. Yet, Paul’s advice was that while these things are from the Lord; they should be done in a way where the church is being built up. No point having such glorious manifestations and yet the church is not built up or even worse; stumbled.
The whole point for the Holy Spirit to pour out His gifts to every believer is for the building up of the church; which according to Jesus is the making of disciples so that more disciples can come into the kingdom. The whole point for the gifts of the Holy Spirit is never to create a class of super Christians or to cause divisiveness in the Body of Christ. The opposite is true. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for acts of service and these are to create unity in the Body of Christ.
Yet, if we are to do a brief survey of what is happening to the Body of Christ today; we are ironically divided by non-scriptural interpretation and application of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. We even cause hurt to one another through such non biblical emphasis of particular gifts. Some Christians thought that they are somewhat “closer” to God just because they can speak in tongues. Some thought that they are a special “breed” just because they are given words of knowledge to speak. Otherwise, even if the persons given such gifts do not feel superior to others; people who are more fascinated by the “manifestations of the spirit” than our obedience to the daily call of the Gospel idolized these persons who are given such gifts.
Yet, nothing in the Bible suggested this. Gifts given are by the pure grace of God to edify the church. The human vessel of which such gifts are bestowed ought not to be idolized nor given any special favours; be they church members, leaders, pastors or in some areas self-proclaimed apostles. Today’s reading puts a strong reminder that as a believer and pastor, I must be careful that my actions does not promote such human tendencies to favour more of what is spectacular; but to be faithful to God’s mission.
What is biblical is that all believers are gifted in some way or another by the Holy Spirit. No gift is more important than the others. All work together as a Body and for the glory of Christ. We are no less nor more as compared to one another. We are to serve the Lord in unity, purity and humility. That is the whole point.
Lord our God, forgive us as believers universal, for we have constantly swayed from Your path. Help us to see as You see, love as You love and not to show special favour to anyone gifted in any manner. For such a behaviour divides the church and is harmful to the Body of Christ. Amen.