1 Cor 14:1-25 - Try to excel in the things that build people up
As far as I can recall, my first ‘un-verbalised’ response as a young man to the comment to me ”Lets go for a win/win outcome” was “Why; that’s just a cave in couched in a compromise”. Over the years I have gradually realised that in many cases, a ‘win/win’ scenario IS the best outcome. Just over mid way through Paul’s discussion about Gifts of the Spirit, and following his section on the place of love in the life of a disciple seeking to live under the control of the Spirit, he writes “Since you are eager for gifts of the spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.” (vs 12) There is an example of a godly ‘win/win’ outcome. From deep within the disciple of Jesus there is a drive to excel, to achieve and sometimes that drive moves us into ungodly activity through ‘un-Christ-like’ thinking.
Paul has already written to them a reminder that they ought be thinking intelligently about Spiritual Gifts – he does not want them to be uninformed so its not at all the case that Paul is thinking “well, if you have to focus on Gifts then at least focus on the positive ones” No, what he is saying is that godly attention to Spiritual Gifts is not only important, its of paramount importance – its how God enables and resources us to do the things that he want's us to do. Paul is telling the Corinthian Church to keep learning about gifts and how to use them and as you eagerly desire them, work hard, master, practice well and look for the beauty that comes from God being at work as you excel in the gifts that will build up the church. As we think about how we apply this individually and as a church today, think about these things; (1) Become proficient in helping others excel – go for a Win/Win outcome! (2) Corporately, as a church community, help each other do well as a team, as a community, so that all of the gifts are used and benefit the whole body. “Spiritual gifts gain their usefulness in the church from the Christlikeness of their recipients” (Preben Vang “1 Corinthians – Teach the Text commentary”) Prayerfully seek God today and ask that he would grow within you a deep burning desire to see your gifts and others gifts, used collectively in the context of love, in order to build the Church.