“Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts especially that you may prophesy….So with yourselves-since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit—strive to excel in building up the church.” 1 Cor 14:1 and 12
Paul is coming off an opus on Gifts in Chapter 12 and 13. In Chapter 12 and 13 Paul not only writes about Gifts, he also puts the guardrail of a proper attitude upon it: Love. In Chapter 14 now he writes about motivation and objective.
I confess: I am an old charismatic. Or am I still new? I don’t know, maybe that is rhetorical. I think in Reformed Theology within a significant charismatic framework. What does that do for me that it doesn’t for others? I am still learning. But that is for me to write about another time.
In the above scripture references I have circled/outlined in various copies of my Bible three words. Significant words. Three words that speak of how I am to approach my Walk in the Gospel.
First word: Pursue. Second word: Earnestly. Third word: Strive.
From our high school English we see 2 verbs and a single adverb. The adverb “earnestly” is a modifier for the verb “desire.” “Pursue” and “Strive” are verbs that connote the sense of effort.
All of these words are another reminder about the effort concerning walking in the Gospel—we are to put some “oomph” into being a disciple. I have these words and many others circled in the New Testament because not that I am clever (far from that) but I NEED the reminder of the Holy Spirt to singularly get off my derrière and do.
But to do what? There are many targets and objectives cited in the New Testament but here in verse 12 it says to “Strive to excel in building up the church.” The idea I take out of this is to give effort to making the local church strong and able to withstand the winds and waves of opposition (in any form it manifests), to perform works of service, and to display the miracle of the Gospel in my life and my mouth.
I have been in churches where I felt alone; not cared for; an outsider. To be sure that is not all those local church’s fault-a good part of that was mine. (Note: If I understand the Gospel I cannot keep score. Other folks don’t make me sin.) My feelings are and should be irrelevant. Another note: I know my feelings are real and need to be harnessed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ll get there by the Grace of God on a daily basis.
Here is the gist of this chapter: Purse, earnestly desire, strive. However I might think of how the Scriptures speak to me, the Scriptures DO speak. When I see Verbs and Adverbs like these I need to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying. I may not know how to respond yet but I need to pay attention for the long term.
Example: Concerning building up the local church: Peter writes “The end of all things is at hand. Therefore….” and in 1 Peter 5 he writes out a list. There is a significant instruction for “end time living” here: “Practice hospitality without complaint.” I confess this is a difficult issue at times. But it is still an objective-keep it in front of the face in the mirror.
Being acutely aware of these strong and decisive action words from the Hand of the Holy Spirit is imperative for Believers so that we can be a building block for a healthy local church.
Aw, Father: A lot of times I feel like I am just scratching the surface of the Gospel. There are things that I write confidently about that I am haphazard in employing. Nevertheless please work in my heart and mind that these things I learn I can put into action, displaying the Gospel and like Paul wrote Timothy “Practice these things; immerse yourself in them so that all may see your progress.” 1 Tim 4:15 Thank You, Father. My prayer. For the rest of my life. AMEN.