1 Corinthians 14 has been one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible. Denominations, colleges, and missionary organizations have split and been developed over the meaning of its words. Why? Because it discusses the often-divisive spiritual gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues (or languages), and the interpretation of tongues.
What is often misses in this heated debate is the final word on the issue. The last verse of the chapter concludes, “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
This was Paul’s intended goal. It was not written to cause a division between stoic, emotionless worship and hyper-charismatic flair. Paul addressed the emotional extremes, both in action and beliefs, among some of the Corinthian believers, and spoke difficult words of truth regarding how their gatherings should operate in a way that was fitting and appropriate. When we take these words to accomplish something else, we depart from its original intention and create new structures never in the mind of Paul and his original audience.
Spiritual gifts are controversial because they are personal. When one person has a particular gift and another doesn’t, it is easy to let what God has created for helping others to turn into a personal or corporate conflict. Instead, we are called to use the gift we have to help others, to worship appropriately, and to put love above all else (1 Cor. 13). When we do, God is honored and lives are changed.
It is as simple and complex as that, all at the same time.
Our goal is to worship God and to do so appropriately.
Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of all 31,173 verses of the Bible at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.