Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle lesson for this week is frequently used like the pipe wrench in a game of Clue. You use it to smack down the person you disagree with, then you try to hide the evidence. What’s the topic here? Gifts of the Holy Spirit and reasoned understanding. The exciting element of this passage is that it is used as if we have an “either-or” distinction. Either you expect God to work supernaturally or you do things with your understanding.
Let’s see what the passage says. First, inverses 12-13, spiritual gifts are affirmed . They are good, and can be used tobuild up the church. In verse 18 the apostle is glad that he even has more evidence of spiritual gifts than his readers do. Make no mistake. Spiritual gifts are good.
The apostle doesn’t stop there, though. While spiritual gifts are good, they do not always build up the church just by themselves. A gift of wisdom or understanding might. But the less intelligible gifts, like speaking in tongues will not. After all, without interpretation, the speaking may remain a mystery to some. Paul asks in verse 16 how someone will know how to agree with thanksgiving if he can’t undersatnd it. So the apostle urges the Corinthians to seek that everyone should understand. This builds up the whole body of Christ.
If God gives spiritual gifts, that’s fine and good. He is blessing His people. If there’s a way to help others understand what God is doing, all the better. So we make every attempt to explain what we read, see, and hear, in terms that all can understand but which are nuanced enough to deal with the intricate give and take of the Christian life. Thanks be to God for His life-giving Spirit!
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