November 27, 2016

1 Corinthians 14:12 Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

The whole issue of spiritual gifts can be a real can of worms from the human perspective. I think that’s one of the reasons some churches teach that such gifts were only for the Early Church. Often people seek spiritual gifts for the wrong reasons, particularly pride. We tend to love the attention such gifts can bring us! At times I find myself wondering how many of the church members genuinely want to build up the church. We get so focused on ourselves, rather than on the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) If our focus is right, then God delights to pour His Spirit through us in all sorts of ways, but if our focus is on I-my-me-mine, then He holds back. Of all the spiritual grace gifts mentioned in the New Testament tongues is probably the most individual and private, because without interpretation, the expression is entirely between the individual and God. Every other gift mentioned is directed toward someone other than the one exercising it, so that the other person is blessed. I think that’s why the gift of tongues was seized on by the early Pentecostal and Charismatic movements: immature people aren’t worried about building up other people. That’s not to say that the gift of tongues is useless by any means. It is certainly encouraging and strengthening to the individual believer to pray in tongues, (Jude 1:20) and in my own experience it is very helpful to be able to pray for situations you don’t know much about, or are simply overwhelming to our human minds. Those are good things! That said, Paul is pointing out that our focus is to be on the Church, and that means building up others. We need to seek the Holy Spirit’s working through us to build others up, and not just ourselves.

As a pastor I sometimes wonder how much anyone wants to build up the church! However, I need to remember that if He can and does use me, with all my flawed motives and partial obedience, then He can certainly use the members of this church. Right now I am experiencing considerable attack, and the focus is on trying to get me to look at myself and my abilities. That’s an express ticket to despair! As I tell others all the time, I’ve got to get my eyes off of myself, and even off of the mountain of things to be done, and fix them on my Lord, for whom nothing is impossible. (Luke 1:37) I am to earnestly seek that which builds up the Church, but I’ve got to remember that it is Christ Himself who builds His Church. (Matthew 16:18) I will be delighted when more believers seek to build this church, but I am not to think or feel that it depends on me, or on them, for that matter. We are to seek to be yielded and available, but He’s already got every problem licked.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I really needed it. Waking up in the night I was really overwhelmed by the things to be done and the situations to be dealt with, and I let the devil rob me of peace and rest. Forgive me. As many times, and as often, as You tell me to rest, relax, and rejoice, I ought to be better at doing it by now! Thank You for this season, of the year and of my life. Help me rejoice in every opportunity You give me to serve You through serving others. May I receive the necessary emotional, physical, and spiritual strength from You, because mine certainly isn’t up to it. Thank You that just as You told Paul, Your strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I choose to receive Your all-sufficient grace, for it to operate through me to draw many to You, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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