Summary: The Corinthian believers had powerful and impressive spiritual gifts, but Paul is essentially telling them those gifts don’t really impress God as much as three others that they seemed to have forgotten. What were those 3 gifts, and why were they better?
Kids learn quickly. But they see life and love from their own point of view. Asked what the thought about “falling in love” several children gave these answers:
· Tom, age 5 - Once I’m in kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife.
· Glenn, 7 - If falling love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.
· Kenny, age 7 - It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.
· Regina, age 10 - I’m not rushing into love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.
· Angie, 10 - Most men are brainless, so you might have to try more than once to find a live one.
· Dave, age 8 - Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I’ve been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me.
· Manuel, age 8 - I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be painful.
That’s how children view love.
But when Paul talked about love to the church at Corinth, he wrote: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I grew up… I put away childish things.
At most weddings - when I Corinthians 13 is quoted– folks tend to leave that verse out. It just doesn’t sound… romantic. In fact, some might wonder why Paul even put that expression in the middle of such a powerful chapter on love.
Most folks don’t realize Paul didn’t write this chapter for wedding ceremonies.
Paul wrote this chapter for a church.
A church that didn’t understand what love was all about.
A church that was speaking like a child/ thinking like a child/ reasoning like a child.
For those of you that haven’t heard the previous sermons in this series, Corinth was a church that wasn’t a very loving place to be. They didn’t treat each other very nicely on occasion. They argued about all kinds of things. They didn’t share with each other. They would even take fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to court over petty issues.
But at the heart of all the conflicts at Corinth was an issue of pride - and that pride could be summed up by the division their God given gifts were causing in church.
In that day, some of the folks there had the “gift of tongues”.
They could speak in languages they’d never learned…which came in handy because Corinth was an “international” city. It was a major seaport (in fact it had ports that served both the Agean and Ionian Seas). People from all over the known world would stop at this city. And many of these travelers spoke in different languages and dialects.
Having the gift of tongues allowed the Christians there to talk with these travelers about Jesus. And that may explain why this first letter to Corinth (I Corinthians) is the ONLY letter Paul ever wrote that mentions tongues.
So some of the Christians in Corinth had the miraculous ability to speak in tongues and it was a powerful useful gift to have.
Other Christians there had the gift of prophecy.
They could foretell the future.
There’s a story in the book of Acts where a prophet named Agabus (Acts 21) came to Paul and declared to him what was going to happening in his life in the next few months.
Now, this wasn’t like going to a “fortune teller” or consulting a horoscope or Ouija Board. God condemns those kinds of activities. People who use those “tools” are seeking to find out something that God doesn’t want us to know about.
Whereas Horoscopes and Ouija Boards are used by those who want to know what THEY want to know - the prophets in the early church only told the God’s people what GOD wanted them to know
Lastly, I Corinthians 13 talks about the gift of “Knowledge”.
The Bible is not real clear on what this gift entailed, but it would seem the Christians who had this gift could proclaim messages that came directly from God. The writers of the New Testament books might have had this “Gift of knowledge”. Scripture tells us that when the Bible writers composed their books in Scripture, they were carried along by God’s Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21) and that God “breathed” His word through them (II Timothy 3:16). This ensured that the books of your Bible are without error. There are no mistakes in your Scriptures.
You can trust what has been written.
Now these kinds of gifts were intended to help the early church get on its feet. And I Corinthians tells us that one day they were to cease tells us: