This would be one of the few verses that most people would know and recognise, even among those who are not Christians in this world.
It is a fundamental principle among people that if you are to give anything for any good reason, then it needs to be given cheerfully. Too often people have ulterior motives for giving. They give to get something in return, or to win favour, or perhaps to be looked at as someone special, even to assuage guilt.
But what is important in the eyes of the Lord is not that you should gain through giving, but that you should give cheerfully. And those who do so do indeed gain many things, as we will see. But the gain should never be the reason for the giving. Any gain at all is simply a by-product of the giving, nit the purpose for it.
In these last few verses of this chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 we see Paul make a couple of fascinating statements. And these are statements we need to listen to carefully with respect to the contents of this chapter because Paul makes it clear that these words are not just his thoughts and ideas, but they are the commands from the Lord.
The essence of what is written in this chapter primarily deals with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically relating to speaking in tongues and prophesying. He also speaks about running the church in an orderly fashion and provides a template for how a general worship meeting should be conducted. I covered all of these matters in some detail in my previous posts on this chapter, and you can flip back to those using the “previous” tags and keys at the top or bottom of this post.
But in summary here we should look at what Paul is emphasising as being of importance, not just from his words but by the command of the Lord.
In several of my recent posts I have looked at the gifts of the spirit and the love of God. The love of God is the only thing that is eternal for God is love and He is eternal.
The gifts of the spirit do not continue on forever but that does not mean they are not important. In fact they are critical to us now in this age if we want to find the path of God’s love.
I have made this point also in my most recent posts where I have discussed both the gifts of the spirit and the love of God. Just because love is the “more excellent way” as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 12:31, we cannot ignore the need for the gifts of the spirit. Just because “love never ends” as we saw in 1 Corinthians 13:8, it does not mean we should ONLY pursue love to the exclusion of th gifts of the spirit sent by God.
I have made both these points in previous posts and now we see Paul saying exactly that here in this verse also.
The modern church for the most part has watered down the ministries of the new covenant to the point where most of the gifts of ministry have ceased to exist. This is especially true of the miraculous and spiritual gifts of God that He gave to the church for the express purpose of building up the church so that it could stand in the face of opposition.
Now I am the first to point out that the gifts are not going to bring anyone to salvation. You do not need to be able to perform miracles, walk on water, speak in tongues, prophesy by the spirit, carry out miraculous hearings or cast out demons to be saved. None of these things are necessary for salvation.
However, the gifts have been provided to the church to help us as we walk with Christ. They are meant to provide insight, spiritual help and guidance as we walk in the faith that will bring us to salvation in Jesus Christ. Thus Paul says here in verse 31,
But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. – (1 Corinthians 12:31)
In my last post I spoke of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit that is given to all people who are born of the spirit and who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of the spirit as spoken of by Paul in verse 7 of this chapter is clearly speaking in tongues.
But now we look at the other gifts of the Holy Spirit that different people may receive. All of the gifts of the spirit are given for specific purposes. But there are two primary reasons why the Lord sees fit to bestow the gifts of the spirit on people, which we will cover here.
But first let us look at getting the gifts. There are many people who would like to have the gifts of the spirit. I mean, who wouldn't want to have the gift of miraculous healing and be able to walk into a hospital and empty it out by healing everyone there? Imagine that! Why can't we do that? Well…let's have a look at this whole matter in some more depth.
These two verses sit amidst Paul's discussions about marinate and sexual immorality. However they have a wider implication than just those two areas of concern for all people, and it is worth exploring.
There is an aspect of this that can help us understand both ourselves and other people and when understood it will assist us to find balance and harmony with each other.
Some of the problems in the nature of humanity are things like jealousy, envy and covetousness. Often these things are baseless and are built up in our own minds. But if we consider these few lines of scripture, they can help alleviate such human passions that are destructive and instead of being opposed through such feelings towards another, we can come together to rejoice, up build and lift one another up.
In these few verses Paul gives thanks to God for what God has done with the church at Corinth. At a high level when we read between the lines we see that Paul is expressing thanks for the work done in the knowledge that this work is not his own work, nor the work of those at Corinth, but is the work of God.
How does God work in the church to effect change among the people? Again the answer is in these few verses for we see that what Paul is thanking God for is the great and wondrous gifts that God gave to the church that brought them out of the world to where they were in Christ Jesus, and that would continue to protect and hold them in His name until the end.
There are a few interesting aspects to these verses and these gifts that are worth looking into and that is what this study today will cover.
When Jesus came to the earth he was the complete package. He provided the perfect example of what a Christian should be like. He had all of the attributes of God the Father for He was truly in the image of God, and as God is love, so too Jesus is love also.
But we are not. We humans are weak. Born under sin and not able to live lives of holiness except by the grace of God and His work of transformation going on in us, as I have written about in the last couple of posts.
So in order for us to reach the place of perfection and to be in the image of Jesus Christ, we need help. We need the ministries of the church that God has given to the church as gifts to be employed for the education, learning and maturing of the church so that we can arrive at the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ as we are told in The book of Ephesians.
When I was a little kid there were times when I wished I had an older brother who would step in and protect in those situations I would get into scrapes with other kids. It didn’t happen often but sometimes I used to wish I could say, “I’m getting my big brother!” And scare the nasty kids away.
But as I was the eldest child in the family…it never happened. I had to fight my own battles and sort out my own issues. I had to work out how to placate my childhood opponents, and sometimes it didn’t work and I got my fair share of scrapes. Such is life.
But now, as these scriptures testify, I have that “big brother” I always wanted who will stand in and help me. And He will do much, much more so let’s look at what the promise is in these couple of verses.
We are very fortunate that the Lord has seen fit to give us the Bible. It was never His purpose to leave us totally in the dark, and indeed He wants to show us all that we need to be able to live lives of holiness as we walk with Jesus and await the hope of salvation that is to come.
In these few scriptures then we see that the Lord has seen fit to give us an insight into the work of the Holy Spirit and to gain some understanding of the Holy Spirit at work.
I am aware that there are many great mysteries yet to be uncovered in the bible and there are many people who do not fully understand who or what the Holy Spirit is, let alone the work He has been given by God to carry out. Well, here we see one of the key works that the Holy Spirit has been tasked to do and it is to our great benefit when we understand and apply this teaching.