In the NAS chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians opens with, “Pursue love…” In the NLT, it says “Let love be your highest goal!” A man I know once brought up an interesting thought. He said he had been thinking that you either love someone or you don’t. Here, Paul makes it clear that love is a choice, a decision, something you must work at. Love is a goal (the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective). Pursue love.
Now, about those tongues. Some of you cringe with the mention of that topic (especially after reading my post on 1 Corinthians 12).
I grew up being told that tongues have no place in the body today. After reading on my own, I can’t see how people can read this and the past few chapters and still believe that. How can you rip this chapter out of the Bible and still believe the rest? Dunno. Suffice it to say that Paul recognized the potential for controversy and is warning the Corinthians about the selfish use of this gift.
My footnotes say it best: “Speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, but the Corinthian believers were using it as a sign of spiritual superiority rather than as a means to spiritual unity. Spiritual gifts are beneficial only when they are properly used to help everyone in the church [eric’s commentary to the commentary: or for personal strengthening as mentioned in verse 4]. We should not exercise them only to make ourselves feel good.”
I got some interesting things out of verses 15-17 about worship and tongues :
15 …I will pray in the spirit, and I will pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will sing in words I understand. 16 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? 17 You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but it doesn’t help the other people present.
During worship, both the mind and spirit are to be fully engaged: “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.” Have you ever tried singing in the spirit? Like praying in the spirit, it takes faith and a bit of practice, but what an intimate time of worship between you and the Father.
Now, with some simple extrapolating, here’s some more mental musing from the mind of e. Let me know what you think!
In verse 16, it says, “…if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you?” So, A) we are to praise God in spirit in public (notice the word only), and B) people in a corporate worship setting need to understand you to praise God along with you.
I admit I’ve been heavily leaning toward worship as an individual one-on-one experience between you and God – blocking out everyone else, not caring what they think about you as you do. Here, Paul suggests we need to be aware of others during worship and pursue corporate worship together! Right?
Let’s go on. In verse 16b – 17, it continues, “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.” Okay, so A) praise seems to be all about giving thanks, and B) we are to join together to give thanks in praise, and C) people who hear you praising are strengthened?! My concept of corporate worship has been shaken a bit. This will take some meditation to understand better.
Worship God today!