1 Corinthians 14:2-4
Building Up the Church…
Some gifts will spiritually build up ourselves, but it is greater if we can spiritually build up the Church:
“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to human beings but to God, for no one listens; he utters mysteries in spirit. On the other hand, one who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace. Whoever speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but whoever prophesies builds up the church.” -1 Corinthians 14:2-4, NAB
To understand this verse, we must first understand the difference between these two gifts: speaking in tongues and prophesying. Speaking in tongues is the ability, albeit rare nowadays, to speak to God in a special way. It is a form of one-on-one communication between you and God that only the two of you can understand. Likewise, prophesying is also a gift of communication, but in this case, it is the gift of communicating with others about the Lord. While speaking in tongues is between a person and God, prophesying is between a person and other people about God.
Between these two, why does Paul say that prophesying is more important? Because it builds up the whole Church. If we are given the gift of speaking in tongues, we are growing closer to God personally. If we are given the gifts of prophesying, or sharing God’s Word, we can help many people grow closer to God. Other gifts are similar. Some have the gift of intellect, and they can grow deeper in their relationship with Christ through it. But, if they don’t have the gift of prophesy to share what they have learned, it does little good for anyone else. Others seem well in-tune with God’s Will for their lives, and this will help guide them in the right direction. Yet, if they could do the same for others and tell them about God’s Will for their lives, then they can help many more people.
When we seek spiritual gifts, it is important to find ones that help us grow in our relationship with Christ, but it is even more important to develop the ones, whatever they may be, that help the whole Church grow closer to God. People often speak of their personal relationship with God, but our relationship with God as a Church is much more important. Please, I pray that you continue to grow closer to Him everyday, but while you’re at it, see if you can bring someone along with you. If you do, you will be truly using the gifts that God has blessed you with.