Others Focused Spirituality

Remember the phrase: It is better to give than to receive? Don’t hear that as much as you used to.

The dominant culture today is: ‘It’s about me and what I can get’ We are socialized, taught to be self serving in many ways, it becomes 2nd nature

This letter to the Corinthians constantly has a different message: Live for others The constant theme of focus on others, is a hallmark of the New Testament Scriptures.

Last week the passage defined love by God’s standards and how we are to love others. This passage is a straight forward addressing of a problem, that GOD ‘Inscripturated’. He wanted this to be something we heard about directly from Him (thru Paul)

We do not have a culture of this sort of thing @ Midtown, but we should be on the look out for it

Today we hear from God’s word the importance of staying in that mode of love for others as we develop and use spiritual gifts in the community and for the good of the body

1st Corinthians14:1-19

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you.

  • We heard last week that in God’s Kingdom, Love is # 1!
  • Once you have the love part, Spiritual Gifts will be a blessing to OTHERS
  • Prophesy being ranked above speaking in unknown languages

You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

  • There is a place for Spiritual Self Strengthening, but it is secondary to others
  • Speaking from God’s viewpoint, by His Spirit, blesses others.
  • As a disciple of Christ, which is more valuable?

I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

  • God pairs ‘True Tongues’ with the gift of interpretation
  • Then it has the effect God desires: strengthening the whole church!
  • It is always about the good of the body BECAUSE THAT gives God the most glory!

Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful.

  • At this point Paul recognizing his role is all about helping others know Christ

Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

  • If we are using gifts God gives us ‘With Love’ we will hit the right note
  • It’s about working together as a Body / Band / Army

There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

  • Importance of understanding ‘Tongues’ are ‘Languages’ not ‘Ecstatic Speech’…
  • Don’t create divisions with ANY use of Spiritual Gifts…
  • ‘Tongues’ get you a lot of attention…creates comparison…
  • Unhealthy Culture of ‘Spiritual Attention & Accolades’ (not our bag @ Midtown)

So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.

  • There is such a thing as speaking in unknown languages: ‘Prayer in The Spirit’
  • Cultivating depth of prayer with God by His Spirit is desirable
  • There is a place and purpose for such things

For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

  • This implies that the best is when we praise God together
  • God is driving home the importance of ‘Unity’ in HIS Body
  • That ‘Unity’ must be intentionally strengthened by each of us serving in LOVE

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

  • When we gather it is all about OTHERS!
  • Being Christ’s Body is aways meant to be about others
  • Easier said than done…and that is the point of active, continual Discipleship
  • This is setting a pattern for what church services do: they help people!

Application Questions:

What is your WHY for Love being your highest Goal?

How can you avoid ‘showing off’ your spirituality and instead strengthening the ‘Body’?

What would regularly developing your Spiritual Gifts in a love centered way look like?

What things can you do consistently when we gather as a Body to help others?