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1 Corinthians 14:12

Since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.

Building

I don’t know if the members of most traditional congregations fall into this category of those “eager for spiritual gifts.” I have seen that eagerness more in those new to the faith than in those who have had long lives in the church.

Do our member pray for the gifts of healing, prophecy or tongues? Mostly, it seems to me, we pray for our friends who are sick, safety for our families, and occasional help with some personal struggle or problem.

So maybe Paul’s admonition doesn’t immediately speak to us. But underneath this Corinthian concern for powerful manifestations of the Spirit is the essential human problem: me or my neighbor? Towards whom is my heart turned? Where does my concern lie? Am I turned inward towards my own wants and needs, or outward to the welfare of others? Do I want from the church what is good for me or what is good for the community? Have I reached the place where love governs and I receive pleasure in serving others or am I still walking the dusty paths of a spiritual life that is unreflectively personal?

The exhortation in this text does not concern the self-interest of religious institutions, but looks toward Spirit-led lives that seek to build the body of Christ and its serving witness to the world.

With whatever gifts you have, strive to excel in them for building up the church.”

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