“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)
Paul pleas to the saints to pursue love first before pursuing spiritual gifts. He then makes it clear repeatedly that the goal of spiritual gifts is to build up the Church. Before we exercise our gifts and speak, we can perhaps ask ourselves the following:
- Does what I speak build up others? or does it cause others to stumble?
- Does it bring peace that is from heaven or confusion?
- Does it exalt Christ or men?
- Even if the experience is real, is it entirely biblical? Could it be a counterfeit spiritual experience?
Ephesians 4:29 reminds the goal of our conversations is for building up,
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Or consider 1 Corinthians 14:23-26,
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
To conclude, as we pursue Christ and His love, let all things — not just a few things — be done for building up.
” There was nothing wrong with the Corinthian Christians’ desire for spiritual gifts. But they made a godly desire into an obsessive pursuit, when the main pursuit for Christians should be love.” – David Guzik
“Gifts of healings and workings of miracles are not for self-exaltation but for the benefit of others. They could easily become the basis of pride just like teaching or preaching or mercy or hospitality or prophecy or any of the gifts. But they are meant to be expressions of love.” – John Piper
“Where Satan does not succeed in taking the Bible from us, he works hard at taking us from the Bible…He does this simply by getting Christians to focus their attention on seeking some supernatural experience. As a result, those who seek after the experiences of others have neither time nor interest in searching the Scriptures for God’s truth.”- S. Michael Houdmann