Good Morning, Siblings!
This is our LAST month for this reading cycle and we will have read the entire Bible together in one year. Glory to the King! I will have more information coming up soon for your friends who would like to join us for the the next reading cycle but if you’re already in the group, you don’t need to do anything but remain where you are.
In writing my notes today the Father put something heavy on my heart and it takes up the bulk of my notes. This was not my intent but I have confidence that it was His. Fair warning.
Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians has Paul going into detail about the various spiritual gifts and the purpose of each of us having different gifts. Sometimes I find that people expect to have every gift as a proof of their spirituality but this is more proof of lack of reading of the Bible.
In my personal experience, I have found the gift of tongues to be the most abused with many imposters claiming to speak in tongues disrupting worship services. This is purely my personal experience but I wanted to explain that so you’ll know where I’m coming from when I say that this is the one gift I tend to steer clear of when others tell me they have it. There is a clear Biblical mandate for the purpose of speaking in tongues and it is so that people present who do not speak the language can still understand what is being said or what is taking place. We see in our reading today that this gift was abused in a similar manner during the time of Paul as well as he speaks to it at great length. With 1 Cor 14:27-28 putting the period to the end of his statements on this matter.
As Paul speaks of the spiritual gifts, he admonishes us not to be jealous of another’s gift and instead to be grateful for the part we are given to play which makes the body of Believers complete. Instead of coveting one another’s gifts, he tells us that he will show us a more excellent thing to strive for and with that we lead into 1 Corinthians 13.
Recall that Messiah came and taught us how to walk out YHWH’s commandments out of love for the Father, not just a sense of duty or as a checklist. With His ascension, we were then given access to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who puts the desire to obey the Father on our hearts and helps us to do that. All things should be done out of love, just as our Messiah taught us through His example.
But just as this is a problem for us now, so it was for the Corinthians. Paul addresses this problem poetically:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
We can preach, we can teach, we can try to lead, we can correct, and we can be one of the most learned people of all time – but if we don’t love our fellow man it is all in vain. Meaningless. For Naught. Wasted. All of our work, our passion, or goals, added up and equal to nothing. Why? Because our heart isn’t right.
Yesterday I spoke of my friend, Mr. Mason, who chose not to cut his grass on Sunday even though he had the freedom to do so, because it might cause some of his Christian neighbors to stumble. He had freedom to cut his grass that day but he chose to use his freedom to humble himself out of respect (love) for his neighbor. As I write this, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and countless opportunities to show love and respect for our neighbors have been squandered by the body of believers because we chose haughtiness and arrogance over humility and love. This statement by Paul is an indictment. It is personal to me and it should be to you as well. In fact, all that we have read should be personal.
You see, the Bible is meant to be a mirror in which we see ourselves, not a magnifying glass with which to examine others.
Paul goes on to tell us how to lovingly respond in any situation:
- We are to be patient and kind
- We are not to envy others or be boastful
- We are not to be arrogant
- We are not to be rude
- We are not to insist on our own way.
- We are not to be irritable or resentful.
- We are not to rejoice at evil but instead rejoice in truth (YHWH’s way)
- We are to bear all things (preferably without grumbling)
- We are to trust in others (The Greek word used here for believe means to trust)
- We are to remain filled with hope.
I wish I could end these notes now and go grieve for how terribly short we have fallen as a body of believers in our time. I want you to know that I’m not saying this with a pointed finger at anyone but a grieving heart for us all. Were men such as Ezekiel present to write of the behavior of YHWH’s people in our time, we would surely be recorded as having put the most sinful Israelite rebellion to shame. We are an arrogant and stiff necked people. In place of humility we have pride. In place of love we have disdain. In place of peace we create chaos.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:8-13
The greatest gift is love. How, then, does YHWH view people who walk under the banner of His name and use this gift the least?
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Notice that these admonitions are not to those outside of the church, but those within. YHWH doesn’t say that if this political party or people with that background will humble themselves and pray – He says if HIS people will humble themselves, pray, seek His face, turn from THEIR evil ways. But we can’t see that it is us because we are constantly using the Bible to diagnose others instead applying it to self.
1 Corinthians 13 is a passage that can be used to lead us to be a better people if we read it as first showing us the behavior we need to correct and then as the roadmap to moving forward.
1 Corinthians 14:33-35 is a statement which needs a little more context. I came across an article that goes into great detail in an objective manner that really helps us fill in the gaps here. I do not know the doctrine of this organization or the author and am not endorsing anything regarding either. However, I did find this article to be objective, well written, and well cited. You can click here to read it.
In closing, I want to share something with you. I like to go out on the porch in the morning while it’s still dark and talk to the Father. It seems He’s always there waiting on me. In the stillness of the morning, I lay out my thoughts and ask my questions but mostly, I just sit and I listen.
One morning, while the world was still dark and the crickets played their nightsong, I asked the Father to make me more sure of myself. He replied, “I’m not going to make you more sure of yourself. I’m going to make you more sure of me.”
And I just wanted to share that in case any of y’all needed to hear it, too.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spend some time repenting and studying 1 Corinthians 13. May we seek to live a life worthy of the calling our great and loving God has put upon each of us.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!